3 Helpful Responses When Countries Close International Adoption

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How should we, as the church, respond when countries close to international adoption?

In 2012, Russia closed international adoptions to Americans. Shortly after that, the Democratic Republic of the Congo stopped issuing exit letters for adopted children for a few years, effectively halting processes there, even for families in process. As I write this, my Facebook feed is blowing up with articles about recently passed legislation in Uganda that severely limits international adoption there.

For families caught in process, these situations are hard. However, none of these are new stories. Guatemala. Rwanda. Nepal. Ghana. Vietnam. India. Haiti. Liberia. Ethiopia. All of these countries have closed some or all of their international adoption programs at one time or another.

So how should we, as the church, respond when countries close to international adoption?

  1. Mourn with those who mourn.

Let’s weep with those who thought they were going to adopt a child but then couldn’t. Let’s be heartbroken over the children who were told a mommy and daddy were coming for them, including many who met those prospective parents, only to have that promise withdrawn. Let’s grieve for the children whose options have been exhausted in their home countries when their possible doors to international adoption vanish. And if you’re the one whose adoption plans have ended or dramatically changed as a result of a country’s closure, give yourself the permission to grieve that loss, because it is real.

  1. Cheer with those who cheer.

We are a people of justice who follow one who calls himself the Truth. As such, ethics ought to matter to us. When international adoptions halt or end somewhere in an effort to eradicate corruption and child trafficking, let us say together, “this is good.” Instead of fighting against justice crusaders, we should be linking arms with them. This sort of cooperation can also allow us to nurture needed changes so that the adoption closure isn’t just an empty gesture but rather a step toward better outcomes for vulnerable children and families.

  1. Offer light and hope and help wherever you can.

Our friends at 99 Balloons and Joni & Friends have excelled in serving those with disabilities internationally, including work with orphanages and vulnerable families. Invest in projects like Wheels for the World and global therapy training trips. If you plan a trip for your church without working with a reputable organization, please be wise and go where you can help, not just where you can feel good. Holding babies in an orphanage is fun, but it’s often not beneficial. Bringing skills that you can apply to help children, either in offering a service (such as a dental care clinic) or in training workers to serve kids after you’re gone (for example, by teaching physical therapy techniques to caregivers of children with disabilities). Traveling isn’t the only way to help, though, as sometimes money can make a bigger impact. Consider giving financially toward in-country efforts where the same money that would have funded the international adoption of one child can serve many more. Finally, be prayerful in all these things, including where God might be leading you to care for vulnerable children and families right where you live.

 So how do we respond when countries close to international adoption? Mourn with those who mourn. Cheer with those who cheer. Offer light and hope and help wherever you can.

And above all, remember that while adoption can be good, it makes for a lousy idol. We don’t exalt international adoption. We worship Christ. As countries may be fickle, our God can be trusted. Always.

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