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It’s something several people have asked as we’ve headed down the adoption path recently. (For more on our adoption journey so far, you could read this and this.) “What do they think about your faith?” “Do they mind that you’re Christians?”
I guess they have in mind horror stories like this one, where a Christian couple were not approved as prospective adopters, essentially because of their beliefs. But, like most ‘real-life’ stories in the media, this is just one isolated example and, terribly sad though it is, I’m (optimistically?) guessing it’s not indicative of how most people-of-faith are treated up and down the country.
Certainly it hasn’t been our experience thus far. So much about our faith has given us positive answers to the many questions asked by our social worker. For one, it is vital that prospective adopters have a strong support network, to help them weather the challenges that adopting a child will no doubt bring. Being part of a church gives you this support automatically – we know so many people who would bring round a meal, look after our birth kids, or come and clean our house at the drop of a hat – not because they know us that well, but because this is simply what a functioning church family does for each other. Add this support network to our other friends and family, and it starts to look pretty attractive to any assessing social worker.
In addition to friends asking us whether the adoption agency ‘minds’ that we’re Christians, some follow the question with a statement such as “…because it must come up, surely?”, as if we could go weeks and weeks in the process before the issue of our faith was raised. Not so. Our faith underpins everything we do, every decision we make and every relationship we have. We don’t always do the right thing – far from it – but everything in our lives comes from the starting point that we trust in Jesus as our Saviour and friend.
So, to give you a few examples, we get grilled on our relationship with each other (as in, four hours of grilling!). How did we meet? Christian Union… How did we know it was right to get married? Prayer… How do we make decisions? We pray… I’m giving you the abbreviated, simplistic response just to make a point – clearly there’s slightly more to it than that – but you get the idea.
Then we talk about finances, and the social worker sees that our approach to money is quite different. “So, you decide how much you need to live on, and then give the rest away?” asks one, cocking her head to one side as she tries to get into our clearly-extremely-warped minds. “Er…no…it’s kind of like the opposite…” we reply – clearly not a very satisfying answer.
We discuss identity, and have the privilege of chatting about Christ’s love for all, regardless of ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation – and, hence, the welcome and acceptance that is found in our church family for everyone.
We talk about values and morals and how we nurture and educate our birth children. We’re asked about our early experiences, through childhood and adolescence, what kind of educational experiences we’ve had, and our employment history. We discuss how we spend our time, how we use our home, how we celebrate occasions. Through all of these questions our faith has ‘come up’, so it’s no surprise to find that it’s a big part of the final report which has now been written on us. Whether it hijacks our chances of success at the adoption panel remains to be seen – but, for now, the most important thing is that we’ve been able to be genuine and honest, and our social worker has responded positively to the fact that we’re Christians. What happens from now on is in God’s hands, and we have total peace about that.