God is moving among His people

September 6th, 2011

Question [edited for courtesy]:  Do you believe that these children should ONLY be adopted by Christian families?

Answer:  My first response to this question, and the rest of what you said, was genuine surprise.

How could I have communicated that “these children should ONLY be adopted by Christian families,” when the thought hadn’t crossed my mind that “these children should ONLY be adopted by Christian families?”

I have expected all sorts of challenges, but whew!  I didn’t see this one coming!

I am genuinely sorry that you felt hurt by my words, and would welcome the opportunity to openly and graciously dialogue with you about this.  I have in good faith provided my full name and email address for you and others to use.

And your challenge did provide fodder for some good discussion at our house.

We wonder if the misunderstanding arose in part because…

If I sound as though I am writing from a Christian perspective, it’s because I absolutely am.

And if I sound as though I am writing to other Christians, well, I guess I am.  It is a public blog, so anyone may read it.  But this blog started out as the best way to communicate the story God was telling through our family to many beloved friends and relatives who are spread far and wide.  This will quickly become apparent if you skim back through past months.  I have a huge affection for the people–real people–I write to, and yes, nearly all of them would identify themselves as Christians.

I do expect that my language will sound foreign and even offensive at times to those who are living from a profoundly different basis of belief and thought.  The only way to prevent this is to fail to have any beliefs or thoughts at all about anything of significance, or to remain silent about those beliefs and thoughts.

But when I reported in a recent post that our attorney has so far had only Christian families come to her for help facilitating their special-needs adoptions, I was not actually voicing beliefs or thoughts.  I was not prescribing a set of rules, or even sharing a preference.  I was stating the fact exactly as our attorney stated it to me.

That fact struck me then as being particularly intriguing, and it strikes me now the same way.  Many modern American Christians I know are painfully aware of the problems in the modern American church.  We’re not often given glimmers of hope by those who study us and give us reports on our state of spiritual health.   But my husband and I still see great evidence that God is moving among His people and changing us down at heart level.  All praise to Him!



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16 Responses to “God is moving among His people”

  1. Interesting. 
    When I read that line it seemed to be a combination of a statement of fact (as you mentioned, you were repeating something that had been told to you) and, possibly, a call to action to people of other faiths to take a leap of faith as well.
    The fact is that there are children out there that are literally dying from a lack of love.  People of all faiths (or no faith at all) should do what they can to make it right.

  2. Corey says:

    Joe & Susanna,

    Just as with interpreting Scripture rightly, CONTEXT plays such an important role when we share our thoughts with the world…

    Admittedly, my own sinful pride would allow me to say “Yes, only such and such a group of people should be eligible to adopt.”  Then I look at Moses’s own adoption story in Exodus 2.

    As I seek His Grace to better understand and submit to the Truth of God’s Sovereignty and the Doctrines of Grace, I am comforted by how God uses people to fulfill HIS story of redemption.

    Although God may ordain non-Christians to adopt, I am also convinced it is His Will that ALL of His Children within His Church be active in caring for the fatherless…

    May the Lord continue to reveal to your household the abundant Grace He provides!

    Soli Deo Gloria!         

  3. Colleen says:

    Dear Susanna,
    I am just commenting to assure you I am still here reading, praying, and crying with you. I was telling my mom this afternoon that reading your blog is like reading a devotional. The way you portray your struggles isn’t stressful to read, full of neurotic second-guessing and psychobabble, but it is written like a prayer, a conversation between you and the Lord, and it is so refreshing and encouraging.
    Verity has grown beautifully. She amazes me! You have grown as well. From the diagnosis that felt like a crushing blow to traveling to Unnamed Country to meet your little Veronikate (I just loved that nickname), I have been here rooting for you and your family.
    God bless you and keep you.

  4. Meghan says:

    It just occurred to me that in the 11 years I have been an adoption coordinator (both domestic and international), and the dozens of families I have served, I have only worked with Christian families. It never occurred to me until I read your post, and I went through my album of families. Its strange to me that people can know the plight of the orphans, and can see their teeny bodies, and not feel called to do something, regardless of religion, but just as another human being.

    I’ve been praying for your sweet girl and her speedy arrival home! 

  5. Ginger says:

    People read what they want to read. No worries. You communicated the attorney’s statement very clearly. 
    I have struggled with Mormon families adopting these precious RR kids and the Lord convicted me strongly that there is no spiritual hierarchy among unbelievers. A professing Christian who bears no fruit of repentance is no better than a cult member.  The Lord’s plan will always be accomplished. He is sovereign!

  6. Carol says:

    When I read that line I thought the exact same thing as Jessica – statement of fact and call to action of those who may not identify themselves as Christians. I appreciate your gracious response to a misunderstanding, Susanna.

  7. Rachel says:

    Wow! I am awed that you took the time to answer my question in such a thoughtful (and public!) way. People always surprise me so!

    Again, I really hope my question didn’t hurt you. Perhaps (or even probably) I was just over-sensitive to your words. For some reason it IS hard to find people online who are fighting this fight from a non-Christian perspective, and at times it feels like I am in a minority so small it doesn’t even exist. I probably took this out on you the other night, more than I meant to. Your language does indeed sound foreign to me occasionally, but it is clear in every word you write that you are a loving person trying to do what is right in a difficult world. That is something I like to think we share. :)

    You have been gracious, and I’m sorry I can’t reciprocate and give you my email address right now. It’s something I need to do for personal reasons, even though I’m entirely sure my identity would be fine in your hands. In the future I look forward to talking with you more openly, but for now I just can’t give out personal information. Sorry that was cryptic! In any case, tonight you’ve provided me with an opportunity for a bit of self-examination of my own.

    Again, all the best to you and your beautiful family. I am sending all my good thoughts and prayers to you all and to Katie and look forward to reading more as your story unfolds.

    P.S. Verity looks ADORABLE in her glasses! 

  8. Susanna says:

    “Rachel,” you will be Exhibit A in my ongoing attempts to prove to all my wise counselors that some anonymous commenters are real people with real concerns, whether they have the courage to use their real names or not. Thank you SO much for writing back. I did not and do not feel the slightest bit of hurt from you. :)

  9. Heather says:

    We were recently talking about how Jesus communicated truth during his time here on earth. Only than one instance he spoke truth with love. I believe that is what you have done. God has used your blog to speak to my inner most being. One day we will understand everything God is doing, until then we must just continue to seek his guidance. I have been both people in this life, myself, looking out for me and this new creation. The old me did not care enough to even consider adoption, the new me spends time each day praying for God to move. Asking him what he wants me to do. He is doing a great work!

  10. I found that statement interesting, but for my own reasons.  The adoption coordinator from Annalise’s agency made a comment that only large, Christian families (our family was the smallest) sent in paperwork to attempt to match with Annalise.  She wondered aloud why that was and while I had an earful and a soapbox ready, that wasn’t the time or the place to give my opinion and I bit my tongue.  I’ve been praying over that exchange ever since. 

  11. Madi says:

    I am not a Christian. And I have adopted special needs children. 
    I think you’re very correct — most people who pursue special needs adoption (and adoption in general) are Christians. But it’s not necessarily the case. Honestly, I know of several other non-Christian friends who adopted; two had to said they were Christian simply to get through the process. They felt that a falsehood was outweighed by the good that would ultimately occur — saving a life.
    Indeed, I’m not Christian. I don’t believe in/agree with many elements of Christianity. But I believe there is a god. I agree with many of the beliefs (e.g. be kind to others, help orphans, widows and others in need, etc.). I think if you looked at me as a person, you’d agree that I’m a good person, even if I don’t subscribe to Christian ideology (just as some Christians, like priest child molesters, are bad people. I don’t believe that religion is the end all in terms of whether you’re “good” or “bad.”) I teach my kids about Christianity, and Buddhism and Judaism and many other religions. When they’re old enough, they can pick a religion that fits their beliefs or they can embrace them all, or none. I only wish to raise good, loving people who are productive members of society.
    That said, I enjoy your blog. I love what you’re doing; I’ve done the same thing and it’s a life-changing experience. I’m not at all offended by the suggestion that most who adopt special needs kids are Christian. It’s true, from what I can tell, as adoption fits well with Christian ideology. Though whether all of these people are true Christians, or just playing along because that’s what’s required in many cases, remains to be seen! :-)

  12. Katharine says:

    I never comment, but I’ve been touched by your story and so many other reese’s rainbow families and I know one day (I’m a college student now!) I will absolutely adopt a special needs child. I do not identify myself as a Christian, and I am terrified that I will be rejected by the adoption community because of this fact. 
    This question, and Rachel’s reply is really interesting so I thought I would share my thoughts. It is strange that non christian don’t seem to adopt, because I can’t see how anyone could not be moved by those children. Regardless of your religion, it is heartbreaking. I just wanted to let you know, (and Rachel!) that there are people out there who care about these kids that aren’t Christians, even if there are few. 

  13. Meg says:

    As a non-Christian, your words struck a chord with me as well and I haven’t stopped thinking about them. I can’t answer the question of why it is that your lawyer has only dealt with Christian families, but I have read many blogs where non-Christians are called to help orphans as well. I’m not commenting however, to get defensive because I think your words were just a statement of fact, not an attack, not meant to offend, and I wasn’t offended. I’m following your story with such a heavy and hopeful heart, I love watching your sweet Verity grow, and I’m want you to know that all across that globe, people are wishing your Katarina the safe, bright future she deserves. I’m not able to adopt in the country where I live, but I do volunteer “in the trenches” as they say, hour after hour, holding babies, singing to babies, loving on them, and making a difference the best I can. All the best to you and your family.

  14. Susanna says:

    Thank you all for your comments!

    The truth is, I hadn’t been issuing a special-needs adoption challenge to people of other persuasions. That thought simply hadn’t crossed my mind, and I must say it is very far from being my “style.” There are many issues I have not yet taken the time to research, and non-Christian special-needs adoption is one of them. Rightly or wrongly, I was speaking as a Christian to Christians, and nothing more complex than that. Our crusade, if someone insists on calling it that, is nothing more than an effort to reveal the truth that there is a specific need and that the Father of the fatherless has proved Himself able to help us meet that need. I am not going to try to address the needs of the whole world, but I can talk about the urgent need I saw with my own eyes. How many times have the words of others opened my eyes to a reality I needed to know about and act upon?

    Most adoption agencies have no rules about the religious affiliation of the prospective adoptive parents. (By the way, our attorney has no such rules, either.) Before coming to any conclusions, I would want to hear more facts about any situation where someone TRULY had no other option than to lie to Christians about being a Christian in order to adopt a child with special needs. I did a quick internet search just now and found lots of secular options. It would seem very strange to me, and leave me with a bad conscience, to deliberately seek out an agency that worked with another religion and try to convince them that we belonged to that religion in order to adopt, when there are other options out there.

    Katherine, from what I’ve seen so far, there isn’t justifiable reason for your terror of Christian families who have adopted children with special needs. Sounds to me like someone may have been playing with your mind a bit, and I want to reassure you that from an insider’s view, they seem to be a pretty mild bunch . :) They may be more comfortable with others who are like them, but isn’t everyone? That’s not a premise to justify terror. I think you’d find most of them very ordinary, caring, and likable. I hope I’ve helped put your mind at ease about your future as an adoptive parent to a child or children with special needs. :)

    As for the other anonymous, self-identified non-Christian, negative and discourteous comments that continue to come in and be deleted, I want to explain to their writers that you are making yourself look pretty bad. :(

  15. Madi says:

    Hi Susanna!
    I can explain a bit more…
    The two people I know who had to lie and say they were Christian had to do so at the court level. They were faced with judges who were Christian and they made it clear that they would rather send the kids back to the orphanage/institution than give them to a loving, capable non-Christian family.
    Of course, there was nothing in the guidelines that stated “you must be Christian”. But we all know that many judges make up their own rules (e.g. I know with Aaron Nalle, he was brought into court despite the fact that he was in an institution and his parents were given 2 weeks to learn the language! — both rules that this judge invented. Though thankfully, as we all know, Aaron was allowed to come home with the Nalles!) They were faced with an awful dilemma: lie and say they’re Christian or send their kids back to the orphanage/institution to die, after loving them, raising thousands of dollars, traveling for weeks.
    Honestly, I’d have done the same thing.
    So yeah. That was the nature of the situations I was referring to. They didn’t encounter any other problems in terms of the agency or in-country staff; it was the judge.

  16. Molly says:

    I’m one of the few Jewish peeps on Reece’s Rainbow, and I have never EVER felt like you were saying only Christian people should adopt. In fact, I find the Christians of Reece’s Rainbow have really quite changed my thoughts on the Christian population.
    I don’t have an issue with what you’ve said. You are absolutely entitled to your beliefs, but I never got the impression you’d be dismayed if I adopted a child from Reece’s Rainbow.
    When I adopt, it will be through Reece’s Rainbow. Why? Because that’s my family, and one day, that’s where I’ll find my child! I was praying for Aaron Nalle long before Julia found him, and she answered my prayers. We might call our gods by different names,  but I got to hold his little hand and listen to his mother say grace when I stayed with them. It’s not something I do in my house, but I felt truly honored to be welcomed with open arms into their home! As Caleb Lococo and I always say “the bond of Orphan advocacy transcends religion. it’s bigger than US! It’s about the kids!”

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