Should Single Women Adopt?

Sharon Adoption, Church, Community, Family, Marriage, Singleness 15 Comments

Adoption is the new pregnant About a month ago I was hanging out with some friends when someone raised a really interesting question for discussion: Should single women adopt?

One friend, who comes from a large family in which a number of her siblings are adopted, had an immediate response. She felt that this was absolutely wrong, and contrary to God’s design for the family. As she explained, God created families to be composed of a mother AND a father, and while there are families in our broken world that fall outside that category, and God can still redeem them, it is not a scenario to be sought after intentionally.

Another friend of mine was not so sure. She pointed out that there are a LOT of orphans in the world, and as Christianity Today recently reported, as many as a third of Christian women will have to remain single because they so greatly outnumber Christian men. What is better, for a child to be raised in an orphanage, or to be raised by a godly, caring single woman? The answer would seem quite obvious.

Honestly, I have really mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m sometimes wary of the emphasis that Christians place on the family as being THE fundamental foundation of our community. Now don’t freak out on me yet–I’m not saying it’s not important. It is. But what is more important, more fundamental and foundational, is the Church. As the Body of Christ, we have a responsibility not only to our own families, but to every member in our community, as well as their children. This point is grossly understated in our language about family and the church.

When I got married, I stood before an entire community of people whose very presence was a kind of commitment to hold me and my husband accountable to our vows. I expect that accountability, encouragement and teaching to continue the rest of our lives, and many of my married friends expect the same of me. That said, if a single Christian woman were to adopt a child, I would expect that child to be well cared for by her entire church community, which possesses ample men who can be a kind of father figure for the child. In fact, this should be happening in any church community in which single parents exist. As the Body of Christ, we play a crucial role in our friends’ children’s lives.

So with that in mind, I can see an argument for single mother adoption, not on the basis of God’s created design for the family, but on God’s created design for the Church.

HOWEVER, to jump to such a conclusion is to miss the real problem altogether. If we have come to a place in which the numbers of orphans are so vast that the burden is falling onto single women to adopt them, then married couples are missing their call. Scripture specifically highlights orphans as a demographic we are to care for (James 1:27), and it’s no wonder–is there a better picture on earth of what God did for us? Though we made ourselves strangers to Him through our sin, God adopted us through the sacrifice of his Son and loves us as his children, allowing us to inherit all that He has.

Amidst a culture that values biological children so highly, going to extreme lengths that are sometimes theologically questionable–in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, etc.–we must be cautious of the message we are sending. Our biological children are not more important than adopted ones. So while it is by no means wrong to desire and have our own children, we must value all life equally, consider the way that God, not culture, defines parenthood, and take seriously our call to care for orphans and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). After all, adoption fulfills both those Scriptural commands, while blessing a child in a way that will not only change their life for the better but enhance their love for God.

So should single women adopt? I’m still not entirely sure and I would really love to hear your input, but I don’t want that debate to overshadow the bigger issue. In America where we have so much and countless Christian parents have sufficient financial resources to support large families, why aren’t they adopting? My friend who was raised in a large family of adopted children explained that while her dad was a doctor and they could have lived a more luxurious lifestyle had they had fewer children, her parents chose to live at a slightly lower standard so that they could adopt more children. What a wonderfully counter-cultural, radical Christian idea!

This is truly something that more married couples should be praying about it. God may not call your family to adoption, but you will never know if you don’t come before Him in surrendered obedience and ask. And if He does call you to adoption, I guarantee you will share in many of the blessings and joy that God received in adopting us.

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Comments 15

  1. Brittany Donald

    I agree with your blog, although I would say that I am in full support of single women adopting. It was not God’s initial design for the family, but we live in a fallen world and we are called to live faithfully in light of that fall. If our churches are lacking men for women to marry, and these godly women feel called to take on the task of raising an orphaned child they should have our full support. Not to say that a choice like that should be made lightly, but I see nothing Biblically wrong with it.

    Those are just my thoughts though.

  2. sherri

    interesting topic. one angle I thought about recently though is for a christian couple to adopt, if they’re still fertile, they’re taking the life (in a sense) of a child they could have had themeselves, in not ever giving it a chance to live so that they can bring up someone elses child. In otherwords the adopted child isn’t an extra – it’s a replacement for another life.

    Which means you’d really want to be sure of Gods will in the whole thing, (because I wouldn’t have been happy if my parents had adopted a child instead of having me.) In addition is one thing, but ‘instead of’ is another.

    And also, most of the orphaned children in the world are in developing countries. For the price of adopting one of those children and raising them to adulthood in the west, you could fund an entire orphanage. Why be selfish and save one when you could save a few hundred (at least) for the same price?

    And children in fostercare often are there for abuse issues. That mean that they can end up with emotional damage and strongholds that can cause them to abuse others in the future – and there have been many cases of adopted children sexually abusing the parents natural children, more cases then are usually admitted to, for fear of putting people off.

    So just some more angles to look at. To be honest I think I’m more supportive of well run orphanages then I am of adopting as a general principel, but I’m not against it either. I think you need to put a lot of prayer into it and really be sure it’s gods will before you go ahead. (Because he takes human lives very seriously.)

  3. sherri

    PS. And at the risk of sounding nasty, most single women that I’ve come across wanting to have children have had relationship issues which is why they want a child outside of marriage and fatherhood. To bring a child up in that kind of dysfunction is not doing them any favours. And God is lord of everything. Try to love people through selfishness and brokeness and you’ll still have to answer to God one day for their lives. Treat people the way you would want them to treat you is the golden rule and if you’re sowing your own dysfunction into someone elses life and generations then you’re being irresponsible when you could just pay for that child to be brought up in a caring orphanage by qualified people who will see them looked after and educated into adulthood.

    Adoption isn’t always based on generosity and kindness. Sometimes it’s fueled by a persons desire to feel ‘whole’ and ‘loved’.

  4. Anonymous

    Sherri, I think your comments regarding single women are uncharitable. I know several single Christian women who have considered adopting a child, and they hardly fit your caricature of them as being damaged, dysfunctional, and selfish. In addition, let’s be fair. Married Christian women don’t robotically heed the Creation Mandate and completely eschew selfish motives when they have biological children. They too look to their children to give them a sense of purpose and make them feel complete. Some do this to a higher degree than others, yes. But they all do it.

    I agree that supporting orphanages and foster care is important, but I don’t see any biblical reason why singles can’t do this in conjunction with adoption. One thing people seem to forget about when discussing adoption is that it isn’t just about taking care of a child until he or she turns 18. It’s about giving a child a home and a family for a lifetime, an anchor. For a child adopted by a single mother, this means that, well into adulthood, he or she can have a mom that will remember and celebrate birthdays, give sage advice, provide a loving home for the holidays, and that will be a grandparent to his or her children (to name just a few things a single adoptive mother can do). Do foster care and orphanages offer all this? No!

  5. Toni

    I am so glad you have posted this as food for thought. Often I have wondered whether or not I should adopt as a single christian woman. By going against the norm of a traditional family, am I going against God’s will and design?
    A few situations were placed into mind from the Bible. Mainly the story of Naomi and Ruth. While some may see this as a stretch, I see it as applicable to this situation. The story of Naomi a wife widowed, with two sons and their wives. The sons pass away leaving Naomi’s daughter-in-laws widowed as well. Naomi allowed them to return to their home if they desired. Ruth however chose to stay with Naomi, a single woman.
    Now I realize that Ruth is a grown woman. However she is a woman from a separate family that became in a sense adopted by a single woman.
    What I think is most important in deciding if adoption in any case is recognizing two things. One, under God’s original design, children are to be under their parents authority. Naomi recognised that both of her daughter in laws were not intended to be under her authority, as she sent them home. Two we must closel y examine the desire of our heart, especially inthe cases of single christian women adopting. Are we adopting because the Lord, has burdened our heart to take care of a child that has been neglected by his or her biological parents, or is the adoption out of vain motives. Motives such as, God has not given me a husband yet, and I am worried that I wont be able to have children of my own, at the age of my liking?
    God bless

  6. Beth

    I’d just like to point out that IVF is actually easier psychologically and financially than adoption. If it were the other way around, I think more childless couples would consider adoption before IVF.

    I know we would. We don’t have $20,000 for adoption, nor do we relish the thought of the intense probing of our lives, home, and finances to determine our fitness to be parents. The screening and matching process can take years. After all of that, we still could end up with a birth mother who changes her mind even after we’ve taken the baby home (and of course you don’t get money back then, either).

    We’re going the IVF route. (When done responsibly i.e. not creating more embryos than the number of desired children, I don’t have moral qualms about it. Just my personal opinion.)

  7. MJ

    @ Beth, as a mother who has adopted, I have to respectfully disagree. I think both options are equally as difficult in their own special ways. We went through fertility treatments and when we came to the fork in the road where we needed to make a choice with how to proceed… We stopped everything and went into prayer about 3 months before the truth for our situation was made clear to us. We adopted out son Internationally. We didn’t have the $30 grand plus for our adoption, but prayer does work and we found a way to make it work without sinking the boat. We were amazed and grateful for the financial help we received, the support of our church and literally strangers giving us $5 here or $20 there.

    As for the process itself, I wish more parents-to-be would have background checks, it’s quite eye-opening and sometimes much like marriage counseling. You can both really see a glimpse of who you will be parenting with. I wouldn’t take back a stitch for what we went through. The pain, the joy of seeing his little face ad the ache to want to hold him as soon as possible. And the tears shed for the other children who may never find a permanent home. If the length of time is what you fear, know that a child is worth waiting for. I never understood God’s timing more than during our wait to become a family.

    I wish you so many blessing in your journey.

    God Bless.
    Mama JaJa

  8. Gille

    Thank you for this article.
    I’ve been looking into adoption for a very long time and have recently been trying to make a decision that was in line with God’s words and principles. I’m still struggling/praying and thinking about this but this article has at least let me know that I’m not against God in my desire to adopt children even if that will make me a single mother. I don’t know what the future has but this has come to my attention at just the right time for me. Thank you.

  9. Julie-Ann

    As a biological and an adoptive mother of 2 and in the process of adopting again from the foster care system (for an approx cost of $300 USD)! I believe we as Christians are missing it! Whether single or married, if we are not looking after the orphans we are missing the whole point of the verse in James. What amazes me as an Australian living in the USA is how many Americans feel they need to go overseas to adopt and help a child when there are so many in need right here in this Country. Thousands of US children will “age out” of the foster care system , (statistics say many will eventually commit suicide)They have no solid family to seek help, nor love from, and at 18 they are on their own. How tragic. Don’t quote me however I believe I read that if approx 3 couples from every Church in the USA adopted a child there would be none left in the foster care system! What does that tell us about what is happening? It appears to me to be all about money and comfort when I speak to people. People are “comfortable” within the framework of their biological family and don’t want “problems” of somebody else’s child.

    I see many single mothers in Churches today whom don’t have father figures for their children and the Church does not seem to be stepping up to face that challenge either.

    Single or married… Give a child a home and show them the love of God and the security of family, step out and do it if the desire is there! I for one believe the father heart of God is breaking when he sees us sit by doing nothing for the orphans and that includes foster children.

  10. sally

    I am a single foster/adoptive parent. I have had many foster children and adopted two. Deciding to foster and adopt was no a difficult decision for me. I never committed to a husband, but I am fully, unequivocally committed to doing my Father’s work while I am on this earth. I long to follow the narrow path. I live to be a light and salt in a broken world. In fact, I have trouble believing that Christians are reading the same Bible I am reading if they are not caring for orphans. Okay, maybe you are not caring for orphans…fine. But now you would keep me from loving them? That’s crazy to me. My Bible makes it clear that celibacy is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle and that my celibacy affords me the opportunity to pursue God’s agenda with undivided loyalties. God says over and over, throughout the Bible, what His agenda is: caring for the widows, the orphans, the immigrants, the vulnerable, the sick, the poor, the hungry, the lost, the broken, etc. At the end of it all, when we stand face to face with our precious Lord and Savior, He will ask us if we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, loved the vulnerable, lived our lives in humble deference to God’s will. God’s will for orphans is not some nebulous point to debate. He is clear. There are millions of orphans in the world and over 100,000 in foster care in the US awaiting adoption. If the Church were doing anything even close to its job, all orphans would be in safe, loving families. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I will not lecture you about our collective failure to meet God’s expectations, if you will kindly not lecture about my eager acceptance of the role of single parent to a multitude. My God demands total, radical devotion of me and I gladly serve.

  11. Heather

    While looking for articles on other subjects, I came across this post. I recently went to an informational session at my church from this place: http://faithbridgefostercare.org/

    The Church could solve the foster care crisis. It involves the “community of care” model. The potential foster family looks around and considers immediate family, friends, neighbors and church members who are willing to help support and provide a place for these displaced children. Faithbridge also dispelled some of the myths that accompany foster children around and around and……
    I’ve been married over a year, we do not have our “own” children yet and we are making an effort to have our “own”. What is that happens? What if it doens’t? We wouldn’t try to prevent our own kids in order to have an “already-there” kid. I’m content is the Lord never gives us a biological child. What about both options? As Sally and Julie-Ann mentioned, the Church could solve this. So easily. I would love to be a part of that.
    Adoption has always seemed like a good idea, even since I was little. Foster care, not so much. Scary is more of the word picture I had. I would not have been able to afford foster/adoption as a single person but I would have been very able to be one of the respite workers, babysitters, mentors for another family’s foster child. Not sure how many other states have a model such as that of Faithbridge.
    What about the support option for single women? There is a huge need.
    This just brings up several things that make me cranky. Christians need to pay off debt, tithe and wake up. Not sure the correct order there, but the finger is pointed directly at my own heart. I paid off the debt, we give, but what else?? Support those who do and go is one option. What did John Piper say? Go, send, or disobey. We can all be involved, whatever that looks like in our stage of life.
    I cannot imagine the beauty of this kind of living in our communites. Ministering to birth parents. Transforming lives. Sharing Jesus. Opening our homes and hearts and mouths and watching God move and save and redeem.
    Check out Faithbridge.
    Thanks for your blog!

  12. Brandy

    I liked that you decided to post on this issue, being from an area with a great need for foster and adoptive parents I have thought a great deal about if single Christians at my church could handle it or not. I even talk about it at my bible study group and we not having a clue looked to the bible for guidence. The conclusion we came to after talking it over for a good hour or more was that since the bible states that it is perfectly fine so long as you are fallowing the Lord lead, and since the bible clearly states that it is the churchs responsiblity to care for orphans, it then is a good thing for single Christians to adopt whenever it is a good match and the Lords will.

    That being said I do have a bone to pick with something you wrote. It was, “HOWEVER, to jump to such a conclusion is to miss the real problem altogether. If we have come to a place in which the numbers of orphans are so vast that the burden is falling onto single women to adopt them, then married couples are missing their call.”

    I don’t really like that you implied that single women would be a second best option. Like single Christian’s are somehow second class or runner-up parents compaired to couples. Don’t get me wrong I strongly believe that children should have both a mother and a father when they are biological but it is not the same for adoption.

    Think of all the different situations that could be a factor in adoption. If a single woman in lets say her late thirties or early forties decides she wants to adopt a child from her states foster care system. So does a couple in their early thirties. Both apply at the same time and want the same gender, age, ect. and both the couple and woman are good honest Christians. The case worker has a nine year old girl who got taken away from her parents because the mother was on drugs and her father sexually abused her. Who would the this little girl probably feel safer with? My bet is the single woman rather than the couple because she may be afraid of men. And this is just one example. God knows what he is doing and I do believe that he gives some single Christians a heart for adoption because they are right for the job not because their isn’t enough couples to fill the demand.

  13. Suveda

    As a young single woman, i am readily considering adoption as a way to further the kingdom of the Lord and bring joy to a childs life. This article has given me much courage and food for thought. I still intend to marry at the appropriate time, but that doesnt mean i cant love a child in the process.

  14. Plain Jane

    I have wanted a husband for a long time. I’m a devoted Christian woman that has always dreamed of having a family and being a mother… I’m kind of average-looking. Not hideous, not obese, but not a great beauty either.

    I’ve been trying to date for years. I’ve dated men at church, and tried four different dating sites. Nothing worked out.

    I can’t help but notice that all of the people against single parent adoption are those who managed to find a spouse like couldn’t.

    It hurts enough to know that I’ll never be a wife, but I can’t give up on being a mother.

    There are so many children out there growing up in orphanages without any parent, isn’t a good, stable, loving Christian mother better than growing up without any parents in an orphanage? Is it really that horrible to want to adopt one?

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