November is National Adoption Month. According to the AFCARS report from the department of Health and Human Services (HHS): on any given day in 2017, there were more than 442,000 children in foster care. A total of 690,548 children spent some time in foster care. When a child enters foster care, on average, they remain in the system for two years and six percent of kids currently in foster care have been in the system for five or more years.
123,437 children were eligible for adoption on September 30th. For nearly 70,000 of them, the parental rights of both of their living parents have been terminated. That means for them, adoption is the only hope of having a family.
In 2016, more than 20,000 kids aged out of foster care. In 2017, another 19,000 aged out. Another 19,000 will age out this year unless they quickly find forever families. Think about entering adulthood with no social network. Nowhere and no one to call “home.” Research shows that kids who age out with no link to a forever family have a higher likelihood to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults.
Recently on Connecting Faith, I spoke with Chelsea Sobolik who serves as a policy director for the ERLC in Washington DC. Chelsea shared her own adoption story and her advocacy for adoption policies on Capitol Hill (Chelsea is also the author of Longing for Motherhood: Holding On to Hope in the Midst of Childlessness; you can listen to our conversation about the book when she was on Connecting Faith last March). This week on Connecting Faith, she highlighted several resources including the Christian Alliance for Orphans, Russell Moore’s book Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches, and the trauma informed care resources written by Karen Purvis.
If we think for a moment about who we are as the children of God, adopted into His great and good family by grace, then the spirit of adoption ought to be our operating system. None of us comes to the Kingdom by birthright citizenship. We are all born into sin and come into God’s family through adoption.
God himself lays out the foundation of adoption. Not in humans adopting other humans, but in God adopting us! Galatians 4:4-7 reads:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
As adopted children of God, we’re not half-way in – we’re all the way in! Romans 8:15-17 reads:
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
We are the children of God through adoption. What God has done for us, we in turn are to do for those who have no forever family. Not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone is called to adopt an adoption mindset and do their part in developing a culture of adoption in our churches. We can all do something this National Adoption Month to make the world different for one child who has no forever family and no forever home.