“You’re so special!” If I had a dollar for every time my wife and I have been told that I would never have to work again. Jill and I have adopted nine children, all exposed to drugs and alcohol, and most having more severe special needs. We also have two biological children who were so young when we started to adopt they do not know life without our crazy, ever growing family. So people hear our story and often say things like, “You’re so special!” The problem is, it’s not true.
We didn’t get married wanting to save the world, although adoption was a part of our plan from before our marriage. At that time we had no idea it would be kids with special needs, nor did we have any idea it would be nine! But along the way we realized a few things that led us to continue to say yes to welcoming these kids into our family.
First, we knew that it was our responsibility. We are Christians, and as such we are commanded to care for orphans. The Bible is replete with laws and mandates designed to protect and provide for the fatherless. Caring for them is not optional.
Second, we discovered that those who are charged with the care of children in the system are often not willing or not able to really do what is best for the child in need. When the goal for the child is set for adoption, the system is supposed to find the right family for that child. Often, however, they languish in foster care for years, especially if they are older, of color, or have special needs. Many of them age out of the system, and those with special needs often end up in group homes the rest of their lives.
Third, we realized that we could ask for help, but the kids could not. People often ask us how we can manage all of the needs. I will confess that it’s not easy. Sometimes we fail. But we also know that our children are in a much better situation today and for their future than they would have been if they continued to be in state care. They have a family. They are and will be cared for. They have people looking out for them and will continue to as long as they live because they are a part of a family, our family.
Fourth, we saw the massive need. There are over one hundred thousand children in the foster system today that are legally cleared to be adopted. That is a staggering number. There are over four hundred thousand total in the foster system. The need cannot be minimized and the numbers are not getting smaller. In fact, they are growing.
Fifth, the church is not taking up the responsibility to be the solution they are called and commanded to carry out. There is really no excuse for the church to not solve this problem. With nearly four hundred thousand churches in America, every church could take one child in as a foster child and nearly eliminate the need for foster families. If one out of three/four churches adopted one of those children that are waiting to be adopted, we would empty the system of waiting children. This is an eminently solvable problem. But the problem lingers on and continues to grow worse each year. Why?
My wife and I are not some special saints blessed with some extra grace that others have not received. We are two sinful and broken yet gloriously redeemed people who have, by the grace of God, tried to be obedient to the call on our lives.
One of our constant prayers is that the church in America would rise up and lead on this issue. We need to stop depending on the government to solve this problem. It is not the government that was commanded by the Creator of all of these children to protect and care for them; rather, that is the Church’s calling. This is our job, and we need to take it more seriously if we ever expect the world to take us and the gospel more seriously.
My wife and I have found solidarity with other Christians answering this call. One profound example of large-scale obedience is occurring within the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Supported by a partnership with Human Coalition and implementation of the Family Life Campaign, COGIC members are radically answering the biblical mandate to step in for the vulnerable by adopting children who would otherwise be at risk of being aborted or left in foster care indefinitely.
We would all benefit from a little introspection on how we’ve answered this call. If we are not willing to care for the least of these, how will our neighbors trust that God and His people really care for them? This is a gospel issue and the world is watching to see how we respond. If we love the least of these in truly practical ways, through fostering and even adopting, the world will notice and be moved.
Many will ask why — why are we compelled to love so radically. The answer they will find is Jesus. They will be drawn to the One who loves through us. It is up to us to love as He has loved us, “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in…” (Mt. 25:35 NKJV).
Learn more about the Martin family here.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the guest author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Live Action News.