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Friday, August 14, 2009

Orphans and Families

More than 127,000 legal orphans are in America's foster care system today. That's a lot of lonely kids with no permanent, loving, secure place to call home. Yet Scripture sounds a call to destiny for orphans. In John 14:18 Jesus promises “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

And Scripture sounds a call to believers on behalf of orphans. “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.” James 1:28.

The Adoption and Safe Families Act, Pub. L. 105-89, 111 Stat. 2115, codified as amended at various sections of 42 U.S.C., was enacted to encourage adoption of children from state foster care agencies just overflowing with children who need permanent families. The law opens up greater adoption paths and options for kids who have been waiting in foster care for one year or more. Adoption fees cannot be paid for a child. Rather, expenses may be paid for adoption services rendered, and adoptive parents may be allowed to pay for reasonable medical expenses of birth parent(s). Most exciting is the federal tax credit available for adoptive families up to $15,000.

Scripture reveals that adoption is a thoroughly biblical paradigm; it is God’s plan for orphans, and the examples are numerous. Exodus 2 details the interracial, interreligious, and culturally radical adoption of Moses – as part of God’s plan for His people. The Book of Esther explains how the Lord worked through Mordecai’s adoption of his niece, Esther, for the rescue of the Jewish people from extermination. Matthew 2 and Luke 2 reveal Joseph as the adoptive father of Christ, and our adoption as believers couldn’t be more clear in Scripture. “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace which He has freely given us in the one He loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6. And Romans 8:23 says, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, grown inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” From these Christian foundations, adoption for the sake of the child has arisen as a uniquely American concept.

Though an orphan’s childhood can difficult and full of disappointment, believers can be used by God to steer an orphan’s way through life for His glory. You can help an orphaned child find a permanent Christian home--and provide the support an adoptive family needs to care for their child.

This year Focus on the Family® will sponsor a number of special half-day conferences called Wait No More™, where Christian families can explore whether the Lord may be leading them to get involved in assisting orphans. Whether from foster care to a Christian foster home, or to a forever family, or through financial support, believers can make a difference in the lives of orphans. These events help families learn more about adoption, about kids who are waiting, how to adopt from the foster care system and meaningful ways they can support adoptive families.

Believers can give forgotten orphans a reason to hope.

For more information and some Adoption Resources for Christian Attorneys:
Bethany Christian Services – or 1-800-Bethany

National Adoption Center –

National Adoption Information Clearinghouse – - statutory summaries, adoption tax credit information, forms, etc.

Embryo adoption – Night Light Adoption Agency, CA –

Lynne Marie Kohm, What’s My Place in this World? 35 CAPITAL U. L. REV 563 (2007).

Lynne Marie Kohm, Tracing the Foundations of the Best Interests of the Child Standard in American Jurisprudence, 10 J. L. FAM. STUD. 337(2008).

~ Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

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