Save us from a selfish adoption

It would seem nearly impossible for one to make the act of rescuing an orphan sinful.  However, as someone recently thrust into the process, I have become well aware that adopting offers a myriad of opportunities for sinful behavior.  I have even seen adopting Christians forget about the person they are rescuing because they are only concerned with how the process is affecting them at a given moment of delay or difficulty. Blinded by the deceitfulness of sin, what should inherently mean good for another is devoted to the altar of self.   Feeling the natural tendency of my own heart, I have had to pray constantly, “Lord save me from turning the adoption of two Ethiopian orphans into an act of self-serving wicked idolatry.” 

Adoption has many twists and turns that one cannot anticipate from the beginning.  With all the documentation it takes and all the hands that your paperwork has to go through, there is a huge risk for mistakes.  Having to trust a small army of people, who you may never ever see in your lifetime, to approve and deliver everything needed in a timely manner is nerve racking to say the least. For those of us who like to think we are in control of all things, the opportunity for anxiety is tremendous.  It is not to be underestimated.  

However, halfway through the process that person who just loves Jesus and wants to rescue orphans can turn from one who counts it all joy to one who is full of grumbling murmurs.  In the form of prayer requests and ‘journey updates’, they excuse their sin as venting and being open with their feelings.  The scary thing is what those feelings are revealing about what’s going on in their heart.  Who are they really serving in this matter?   

Adoptive parents can begin to think the world should stop and someone should just hand them their child. They sound like the kids in the aisle of Walmart throwing a temper tantrum demanding their toy.  Sadly, the orphan becomes not a child in need but a thing that they want and want now.  Believe it or not, I even read the header of one adoption update that included profanity concerning a family’s recent delay.  I wonder if they will include that in their forever family scrapbook?  
Concerning those involved in adopting internationally, what is just as troubling is when Christians start playing the ‘American card.’  I have read blog after blog that tends to put all the emphasis on rights that the American family should have in adopting kids from other countries.  As if we deserve kids from another country, just because we live in a America.  This coming from Christians!  I am not sure this is the connection between the Great Commission and adoption for which we have been looking.  
Instead of respecting (or just understanding) the state of the adoption system in other countries, we act as if they owe us something, specifically their children.  The prevailing attitude seems to be, “We have the nice homes and money.  Why not just give us the kids?”

It is true corruption abounds and many requirements may seem arbitrary to us.  The process can be grueling when you are relying on folks who may take the rainy season off or may simply decide not to work on a given day, due to a solar eclipse.  But, instead of taking on the persona of a pro-wrestler, thumping our chest and saying, “We deserve them because we are better than you!”  should we not first remember what’s at stake.  Is it just about us getting our kids?  Or is it about rescuing children who desperately need a family.  The American in general may not be on board with this, but the Christian should be.  

I have been honored to encounter the family who is overwhelmed with the circumstances of their soon to be child and weep while they discuss the conditions of the orphanage.  These folks are blessings and remind me that this process is about the glory of God and the condition of the orphan.  Such people are easy to point out because their prayer lists are more about the child, the country, and the orphanage.  Their updates are void of the sort of slander and prejudice toward the systems and people of other nations that many are prone to include.  They pray for mercy and justice for the fatherless, not for themselves.   

Understand I fear such idolatry taking place in my own heart.  By God’s grace I have not posted any complaints or ‘ventings’ at this point.  That’s not to say its beyond me.  

At this moment, we wait realizing that the fate of these two boys is now in the hands of people we have never seen.  There is a man in Ethiopia who is carrying around the last 30 years of my life in paper form.  He will represent my wife and I and who we hope to be our future sons in the Ethiopian court system.  Knowing this, I have been forced to realize that there are a myriad of things that could go wrong.  We could be among the thirty percent of parents adopting from Ethiopia who are given multiple court dates.  Such thoughts are not comforting.

May God help us to be more aware of the sufferings of these two boys than that of our own. Christ’s example teaches us that adoption has never been easy. May we come to grips with the reality that whatever we have to endure for these two boys can never be compared to the suffering they have felt of being left fatherless.  If this is what causes pain and turmoil in our lives so be it.  But, may it not be just because we are not getting our way.  Or because God is not doing what we think He should do. 

I ask you to pray that we would remember that this particular adoption should not cause us to grieve the Spirit of adoption that indwells us.  We must remember that we were orphans who deserve nothing but God’s judgment.  By grace, we received adoption in Christ.  By grace, we will receive this adoption as well.



  1. Thank you for this great reminder of the purpose of adoption…for God and his Glory.

    Justin Darling

  2. Wow, this post encouraged my heart deeply! Having gone through two adoptions, we certainly can empathize with the rigorous process and all the unknowns. I so appreciate how you remind us all of where our focus needs to remain. Praying for your family today … and your two precious boys waiting. Blessings, Shelly

  3. Daniel LaBry · · Reply

    What a beautiful expression of Christ’s love overflowing from you and the journey God has you on. This post should become “required” reading for every Christian couple entering the adoption process. May God continue to bless your adoption and your witness.

  4. Interesting perspective and well written post. I am also glad that you are gracious and aware that there is only one thing in between you and your new family members: God. We know that God could stuff you and your wife in an overnight envelope and Fed Ex you both to Ethiopia tomorrow if He wanted to speed things up. As Christians, we can rest in knowing that everything happens in God’s perfect timing.

    I don’t get flustered when I see parents frustrated by the inevitable adoption delays that keep them from their children. Most parents ache to hold the child that already lives inside their hearts; and I think that is perfectly healthy. I might even question apathy, a “we’ll get him when we get him” response doesn’t seem suitable either.

    I do agree that we need to guard our hearts from being super-hero Americans who swoop in, rescue orphans, and leap tall buildings. I kind of like to think that they’re rescuing us, in the most modest of cases from a life void of their presence, but in others cases, from so much more!

  5. […] Us from a Selfish Adoption Posted on February 26, 2009 by Jason Kovacs Jeremy has a must-read post on adoption motives: It would seem nearly impossible for one to make the act […]

  6. This is a great post. Good reminder when home studies and paperwork is slow. We are adopting again from Ethiopia and are right in the middle of waiting for our home study to be completed and it is taking longer than we would have hoped. Thanks for the good heart examination and reminder.

  7. Michelle Meader · · Reply


    Thank you for posting such an insightful letter to those still waiting and those newly home. I too have seen too many posts that focus on the parents trials and tribulations with the adption process and the adjustment as a new family once the children are home. For those that blog, please, please, remember that your children may one day read about your “sufferings” as you adjust as a family. This amazing gift from God(adoption) is not about you, it is about the child.

  8. Jessica Hughes · · Reply

    Everyone who is adopting should read this. The children should always be thought of first. They are going through far more than we ever have. God’s will is always in motion and nothing we do speeds it up or slows it down. It is all in his hands.

  9. […] you think you might have.  I was challenged recently after reading a blog post written by Jeremy, whose family is adopting two boys from Ethiopia.  His post is definitely worth reading – […]

  10. Very good article. I agree, all people who are in the process of adopting should read it and always check their motivation.

    I don’t however judge or get angry at the people venting their frustrations at the system. It’s called lack of Knowledge and understanding of the process. A lot of what people complain about in the wait time, later they realize God used it ALL for the good of the entire family.

    I know from experience.

    We serve a God that redeems even the worst of us, when our motivation is wrong and we later realize it, repent and ask for forgiveness, He does forgive and uses it all for the good.

    I sat on a plane returning from Ethiopia with a 30 yr old woman who was bringing home a 5 yr old girl. Her and her husband vocalized their questions about their motives, the wife said she wanted to go home, go to sleep and wake up and her new daughter not be there. She told me “I can’t do this”. Well, I have prayed for that family many days since and from all accounts, things are going great now.

    Children, whether adopted or biological bring out the worst in us, because God wants to clean us of it. We hate what we see about ourselves sometime when dealing with our children, from discipline to expectations. The bottom line is God is working on all of us.

    I sat in my bathroom, two weeks after returning home with our 7 yr old son from Ethiopia and I questioned my motives. Self, and the enemy want nothing more then for us to think we did it all for the wrong reasons, convince us of that. But I believe every parent that adopts an orphan will do the same questioning, and that’s good. God is working in us, changing us. it’s all a part of becoming a family.

    I think, like you said, we have to always trust that the process is in God’s hands, He wants the kids home as much as we do. We have to trust Him and when we get frustrated take it to him. He is good.

  11. Holly · · Reply

    I think you make some excellent points and reminders I will hold on to. I don’t agree with judging others reactions to this process. I think that part could have been left out. Many are not dealing with the adoption process alone. Perhaps they are adopting due to another painful experience. It is wonderful that you refuse to post venting or anything negative. I applaud you for that. I also applaud those who are honest. Too many Christians never express true need for fear of sounding negative. Regardless of how each family deals with this process, God’s grace is sufficient and he knows we are human.

  12. Thank you for your thoughtful post. As an adoptive mom who is preparing (w/ my husband and daughter) to start our second adoption, you have raised some very important issues. It is all too easy to focus on ourselves rather than the child who will soon be part of our family. I count myself blessed to be a mom through adoption, but God never said the process would be easy. In fact it is one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.

    This time we are praying about adopting an 8 1/2 year old girl who had a very rough early life. In all honesty, the prospect is very intimidating and not without fears on our part. But I want this journey to be about HER and our walk with Christ. I will keep your words in mind when I am tempted to complain or feel sorry for myself when the bumps and frustrations come. God is always right on time in everything he does.

    But I am also glad we serve a gracious Father who is loving and patient with us as we whine and “miss” the child who is not yet home with us. After all, it was HE who put the desire to adopt in our hearts to begin with! 🙂

    Blessings on your journey!

  13. Excellent, excellent post. Thank you for saying this. We must, as Christians, remember that we are reflecting the gospel in what we are doing. We are showing the world what God did for us. What kind of God and Christ do we want to reflect? When my eyes are on that, my selfishness is quieted.

  14. sally · · Reply

    I sometimes wonder if we adoptive parents in waiting (I include myself) complain and act self absorbed because it is so painful to meet the circumstances where they are. To adopt a child is to carry the pain of their loss for life. To adopt a child is to face the reality of life as it may have been had they never been adopted. To adopt a child is to balance this and many other thoughts beyond our comprehension with the Hope, Joy and Life that only One can provide. I know this has not always been an easy thing for me, which in turns gives me a large degree of compassion for those willing to walk through the doors of adoption. Even if their motives and actions may not speak directly of God’s love and grace, their obedience to serve, may it be immaturely, is still obedience. And we know loud and clear, that God can and will take care of the rest.
    I fear I adopted completely out of selfish reasoning. I am so grateful that those I met along the way loved me where I was for it was there I saw the face of Christ and was encouraged to take a step closer to His Love.

  15. […] Haskins Adoption: Save us from Selfish Adoption […]

  16. What a godly perspective on the process. It applies to all aspects of life – even going through traffic in a godly manner.
    Please check out Tekeme Studios as I have read several blogs re adoption.

  17. […] Haskins Adoption: Save us from Selfish Adoption […]

  18. Lowell Cox · · Reply

    Mr. Haskins:
    First let me commend you on what your church is doing for adoptions and trying to create a culture in your church – I am truly happy to see a church take that responsibility and refelct what Christ has done for us.

    With that said however, I do not agree with some things you have said in your post. I do not understand why you are equating being upset with the process and people being frustrated and venting with sin. My wife and I are in the process of adopting our baby girl from China and there has been many times when I have needed to “vent” because I am angry with what is going on. I do not think this is sinful. Just this week we have been angry because we found out our little girl was in the hospital through a blog but yet no one could tell us anything because there were “protocols” when giving medical information.

    Yes we as Americans do want everything right now and that is not always good – but in the case of adoption – it is not just “an orphan” that I am “rescuing” – it is my little girl that God has intended for me and my job as a parent is to protect her at all cost. Does God not get angry when his people are harmed? God was so passionate about “us” being part of his family that he did the only and hardest thing he could – he gave his son to die for us so we could be adopted – he was constantly angry at the jews – was it sinful or self serving for him to be mad at the process he was going through to get them to be his children?

    Lastly, I admonish you to re-think using the term “rescue” when talking about adoptions. Never once I have I considered myself to be “rescuing” my little girl. Simply stating it that way brings up a term of selfishness – of pride. It inherently makes one prideful that they are doing something great. We need to remember – Love(Charity) is not prideful and does not boast.
    Thank you for your post and may God bless you and bring you closer to him through your journey to bring your children home to you.
    Lowell Cox

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