TRANSCRIPT: Should singles adopt?
Hello, this is Russell Moore, and this is Questions & Ethics, sponsored by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, broadcasting here from our studio in Nashville. And this is the program, of course, where every week we take your questions, whatever is going on in your life situation. Maybe it’s something you’ve come across reading the Bible or something that you are facing in your neighborhood or in your school or in your workplace. And we try to look at it and say what should we do? How should we figure this out?
And this is a question that is coming from Tracy. Tracy says, “Dear Dr. Moore, I read your book Adopted for Life, and I have become very convicted on the issue of orphan care. I am interested in adopting a child. The issue is, I am single, and there is nobody in the picture. Is it a wise thing for me to do, to go through the adoption process?”
Well, Tracy, that’s a really good question. I am glad that the Lord is starting to move in your heart toward caring for orphans and adoption. I think this is probably the most controversial issue that I ever speak to, and I speak to a lot of controversial issues all the time. But people tend to become very emotionally involved in this question.
I remember being at an adoption conference one time, and a woman in your situation stood up and said, “Should I adopt a child?” And I said to her, “I think in your case, adopting right now, as a single person, is probably not the best course of action for you to care for orphans.” And there was a lady in the room who just was very hurt by that, and she said, “Well, what you are saying is since I, as a single woman, adopted a child, that means that you are saying that my child would be better off back in the orphanage or back in the group home.” Of course, that’s not at all what I’m saying, anymore than if someone were to say should I have a baby biologically out of wedlock. I would say no. That doesn’t mean that I am saying that everyone who was born out of wedlock would be better off not existing. Of course not! What we are saying is what is the best course in the best interest of children in order to care for them.
Now, in your case, what you are wanting to do is a good thing and a good motive. And I know what you are thinking is to say look, I am single, and we have all of these children out there in foster care and in orphanages and in institutions all over the place. It would be better for them to be in the home of a good, loving single mom than to be in a group home or in foster care. We are agreed on that. However, I think the best case scenario for a child is to come into a family with a mother and a father.
Now, I think there are some exceptions to that. I think there are some situations in which it is unavoidable. So, for instance, there is a grandparent adopting a grandchild whose parents were killed. I’ve seen that situation many times. But I think it is generally best for a child to be adopted by both a father and a mother. Again, there are all sorts of people who are raised by single moms or by single dads. Those single parents often do a very good job raising those children. But I think that every one of those single moms or single dads would say we did this because it was necessary providentially. Somebody died or somebody left or something happened. But we would have preferred to have had both mother and father involved.
When we think about adoption, think about this for a minute. Adoption doesn’t create an entirely different sort of family. In the Bible, the biblical imagery of adoption is rooted in the natural family. Adoption is something that creates a family that we already see designed by God in the natural order, a family that has both mother and father. So I would say to you, again, with some exceptions—so I’m not speaking to you here with a “Thus sayeth the Lord;” I am speaking to you here with “Thus thinketh Moore;” Those are two very different things. If God is leading you to adopt, then I think God is probably preparing you for marriage as well as for motherhood. So I would say to God, lead me in that direction toward marriage and then open up those opportunities for me to adopt. It may be that what God is calling you toward is to care for orphans, which doesn’t necessarily mean adoption. There are all sorts of ways that you can be involved in caring for orphans without coming to the point of adoption: Doing many, many other things caring for orphans, including some orphans who cannot be adopted right now.
Now, again, your motive is in the right place. The scripture says in James 1:27 to “care for widows and orphans in their distress.” If you adopt, I am not saying you are an evil person. I am not saying you are in a state of sin toward God. I am just saying that it is the best scenario for a child to start out with both mother and father. So that would be my counsel to you.
What’s your question? Give me an email, email@example.com, or on Twitter with hashtag #askrdm, and we will take up your question here on Questions & Ethics. In the meantime, check out our website, erlc.com with lots of resources for you, for your family, for your church and following Christ. See you next time, this is Russell Moore.