What do you think of when you hear the word “orphan”? How about orphan care—orphan train—orphanage?
There has been a surge in the Christian community over the last decade or so to care for “orphans.” This mission stems, in part, from the verse, James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (NIV). This is a great biblical calling, but does it apply to domestic infant adoption?
…to look after orphans and widows in their distress… James 1:27
We work with birth parents whom voluntarily place their child or child(ren) with a couple who has been approved to be adoptive parents. We also provide home studies for couples seeking to grow their family through embryo adoption. Does this mean we minister to and care for orphans? Are the infants we place for adoption, or the frozen embryos waiting to be implanted, orphans? Have they ever been?
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines orphan as:
1 : a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents.
2 : one deprived of some protection or advantage–orphans of the storm, refugee, orphans of the war.
Does our agency provide an option to expectant and birth parents navigating a difficult situation? Yes.
When we look at these definitions and compare them to the services that New Life Adoptions provides we see some dissonance. The birth parents we work with have not died leaving the child parentless. But, what if the birth parents decide that they are not financially or emotionally ready, or do not have the support they need to parent these children? Does our agency provide an option to expectant and birth parents navigating a difficult situation? Yes.
Honestly, we, as social workers, pause when we hear potential adoptive parents who are applying for domestic infant adoption say they want to “care for orphans.” This is primarily because, the children we place for adoption are not orphans as defined above. So, what do these prospective adoptive couples mean when they want to help “orphans?” If the main motivation to be adoptive parents is to “save babies” this can be a great reason to become involved with New Life Family Services as an organization, but the primary motivation for prospective adoptive parents working with New Life Adoptions should be that they want to be parents. Families adopting through a domestic infant adoption program are not “saving an orphan.” To see it that way is misguided because birth parents are voluntarily, and lovingly, making an adoption plan for their child. It can minimize the birth parents’ important role in the adoption and ongoing openness relationship. For families interested in true orphan care—providing a loving family for a child who is an orphan—foster-to-adoption or international adoption can be wonderful options for this rather than pursuing domestic infant adoption.
The primary motivation for prospective adoptive parents working with New Life Adoptions should be that they want to be parents.
New Life Adoptions is a program of New Life Family Services, whose mission is to honor the sanctity of human life by assisting clients in life-affirming decisions with the love and compassion of Christ. Our agency exists to prepare married, Christ-following couples to raise a child whose birth parents have chosen to selflessly place their child for adoption.
Whether you consider our services “orphan care” or not, as social workers, we have the privilege of watching families being built through the challenging and brave decision of both birth families and adoptive families. It is a beautiful and redemptive picture—the love that both families have for this child. We absolutely love being a part of this life-saving, life-changing, life-shaping process!