November is National Adoption Awareness Month in the United States. According to the Oklahoma Eagle newspaper, "As of November 1, there are 1962 children in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services who have been identified with a goal of adoption. There is an overwhelming increase in the number of waiting children between the ages of 0-5 years; 889 compared to 449 at this time last year" ("November is National Adoption Awareness Month nationwide," Oklahoma Eagle, November 17, 2006, p.1).
For the last week, the radio program FamilyLife Today has been advocating for churches to become involved in adoption and orphan care. As pointed out on the program, at the center of pure religion is a concern for children without parents (James 1:27). God is concerned about orphans, and he calls his people to share his concern.
Dennis and Barbara Rainey of FamilyLife pointed out that the church has been known as being pro-life, but that we have not been as pro-adoption. However, the two should go hand-in-hand. The early church made a difference in the first few centuries by adopting children who had been disgarded in the culture and left to die. We can do the same today. If a couple from each Church of Christ in the state were to adopt a child from state custody, the Church of Christ alone could probably empty the foster care system of waiting children within the next year. If the Christians of Oklahoma were to dramatically increase adoptions, the argument of some that abortion is needed because children are unwanted would ring hollow. If American Christians were to adopt increasing numbers of international children, how many of the world's 140 million orphans would have a future? How many would grow up to know the stability of a loving mother and father as well as the ultimate Father of the fatherless? The evangelistic impact could be huge.
Of course, not every family can adopt a child. However, everyone can do something. We can pray. We can support adoption agencies like Christian Services of Oklahoma. We can encourage adoptive families, love adopted children, and appreciate birth parents who place their children with adoptive parents. We can sponsor children internationally through the Christian Relief Fund. We can be foster parents. We can support children's homes for troubled children. (The December issue of the Christian Chronicle contains several good articles about this type of ministry, written by Bobby and Tammy Ross and Harold Shank.) A small group from Jenks Church supports an orphanage in a former Soviet republic. Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis provides the money for any family in their congregation who wants to adopt a minority child or a child from another country. (Some of the larger Churches of Christ could do the same.) The possibilities are nearly endless, as are the opportunities.