A Biblical Framework for Adoption
As Christians, we want the Scriptures to confirm everything we do. You may find yourself asking, “What does the Bible have to say about adoption?” As we examine the Scriptures for specific examples and general truths relating to adoption, we can construct a biblical view of adoption.
Adoption embodies the biblical theme of the covenant.
More Than Legal
Adoption in strict terms is a legal process. But it is important to see that adoption is more than a legal contract–it is a relationship of promise. The adoption process goes through the courts and is made legal, but as in all parent/child relationships it becomes much more than that. Law and promise are different in principle, the one pivoting on reward or punishment for conduct, the other on acceptance of an unconditional gift.
God's Covenant Family
Paul describe how Christians were adopted into God’s family, a privilege originally bestowed exclusively on Israel but made available by the new covenant to all who have faith in Christ. Interestingly, according to a Roman-Syrian lawbook, a man might be able to disown his biological son if he had good reason, but he could never disown his adopted son.
This is not to say that children adopted into families today have a greater standing than biological children. But this should clarify any misconception in the other direction–that somehow adopted children are second-best, or not really a member of the family.
Adoption upholds marriage as the building block for parenting.
God Designed Marriage!
Adam’s aloneness is the only thing that God finds “not good” before the fall. God ordained marriage between a man and a woman to create a child. God’s intent was for that unique combination to stay intact in a covenant relationship to raise the child. When this does not take place, for whatever reason, adoption can and should be considered because it upholds God’s original intent for two parents
Families are an Extension of the Marriage Covenant
The husband and wife relationship, centered in Christ, builds a “tent” that not only shelters the couple, but means physical, emotional and spiritual security and shelter for their children. God’s plan for children is that they experience life in the midst of this covenantal relationship between a mother and a father.
A marriage firmly rooted and grounded in Christ is the strongest possible foundation for family-building, whether through birth or adoption. Many birth parents realize the stability of a Christian family and make that quality a priority when making their adoption plan.
Adoption upholds the scriptural emphasis on the role of the father.
Separate and Distinct
Although we have seen the importance of tow parents, the father’s role as illustrated in the Scriptures is separate and distinct from the mother’s. The Bible speaks of the father as a man of compassion, a teacher at home, and a man to be honored by his children. Proverbs especially elaborates on these important roles a father can and should play in the lives of his children.
God purposefully chose to relate to us as a Father. Our earthly fathers are important in modeling or being images of God as Father. It is important to note that many women choose adoption because they see the father as vital for their child.
Joseph Adopted Jesus
Perhaps the most profound example of adoption in the Scriptures is Joseph’s adoption of Jesus. Joseph assumed the role of Jesus’ father for all intents an purposes. It should not surprise us that God desired for Jesus to have an earthly father, consistent with His plan for marriage and parenthood.
Biblical examples show how God has used adoption to provide for children to further His purposes and kingdom.
Pharaoh's Daughter and Moses
We can summarize Moses’ adoption by seeing ti in the context of two loving mothers whose first concern was a child–Jochebed, who parted with her child knowing that his life was at stake if he remained with her; and Pharaoh’s daughter, who felt compassion on a child she knew by edict was to be killed. God used these two women to save Moses’ life and provide him with a safe and secure childhood.
Jochebed’s decision is a great example of a birth mother’s love for her child. Her godly example sets straight the misconception that birth parents don’t love their children. Her love for Moses prompted her to make the adoption plan.
Here are some other examples that are sometimes mentioned as types of adoptions: Esther and Mordecai (Esther; Jacob’s adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48): Abram and Eliazar (Genesis 15); and Eli and Samuel (1 Samuel 1).
The overarching theme in the examples above, as it continues to be today, is that adoptions take place for the well-bing of the child and with his best interest at heart.
Adoption is a scriptural metaphor that emphasizes the permanence of our relationship with God, the rights we have as His children and His redemption of us.
The adoption metaphor is a compelling illustration of God’s covenant love for His people and His desire to see us as a part of His family. Adoptive families can experience a small piece of that in the permanence of the family God forms in their midst, and birth parents can know that they set and enduring plan into motion for their child, just as God, sacrificially through Christ, put our salvation in place. The miracle of that transfer and grafting of the child into his new permanent family, so carefully planned and desired by both families, is a wonderful image of our permanent place in God’s family.
Together on the Child's Behalf
Birth parents plan for permanence, the full rights of and heir, and love lavished on the child in this new family, just as God lavishes the riches of His grace on us. An adopted child know that love daily from his family, just as God lavishes thee riches of His grace on us. An adopted child knows that love daily from his family, and as he grows, he gains an understanding of the love of his birth parents who planned that permanence for him. Understanding this simple truth can break down the myth that adopted children will always experience rejection. It can also break the myth of some sort of animosity between birth and adoptive families, knowing that they have worked together in the life of a child in a way they could not have worked independently.
Adoption is an outpouring of God’s grace on all involved.
Grace in the Time of Need
A crisis pregnancy can cause intense struggle for a young woman. Whatever the situation, she is experiencing emotional pain and a feeling of helplessness as she may have never felt before. She is in the midst of a great time of need–the need for a resolution, the need for compassion, the need for support.
In a different set of circumstances, but feeling similar emotions, is the couple facing infertility. The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term is one of the most difficult obstacles a family-oriented couple can face. Couples dealing with infertility experience a grieving process that can be debilitating and alienating. For both the young woman and the couple, life seems to be “on hold” and hopeless.
Grace Breaks Through
In the midst of these seemingly hopeless struggles we have a loving God who give us gracious answers. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses… Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.
Adoption is for Children
The child also experiences God’s grace through an adoption plan. Adopted children can feel comfort and love, knowing that their birth parents and adoptive parents planned a future for them that was in their best interest. As children grow older this can be palpable evidence of God’s direction and sovereignty in their lives. Adoption can also be a sign of God’s grace for children without parent of children whose parents cannot care for them, children in the foster care system, and children from other countries.
Ad adoption plan, as it progresses and after it is in place, can be a powerful example of God’s working circumstances for good for all those involved. God uses adoption, just as He can any human relationship, to further His purposes and to bring about wholeness and healing.