Restored, Not Rescued

    In my many years of walking in the adoptive sector, I have listened to a lot of podcasts and read numerous articles about adoption and one theme that is often mentioned as a no-no is the idea that adoptive parents rescue their adopted children. I imagine it is an idea that has surfaced because those outside of the relationship see only half of the process. Many Christians looking in have the perception of themselves being adopted by God and rescued from a life of sin. This concept is then transferred to the adoptive parents acting out their beliefs. The idea of a rescue in the adoptive world is seen as negative because it would give the impression that adoptive parents are the heroes and that the children should be grateful; two philosophies that I think all adoptive parents would agree should not be propagated. However, there is something that occurs in adoption that is not typical in the birth of a child, and there needs to be a way to express the decision that an adoptive parent makes when they decide to parent a child not born to them, especially if the child is older or has a special need. What response does one give to an inquisitive stranger on why they chose adoption? I think the best response comes from the Bible and the life of Jesus.

Although Jesus came to rescue us from our sins, he came to do more than rescue, he also came to restore and for that to happen he had to Step Into our messy human existence.  A rescue implies that a person goes from a bad position to a better position such as from drowning to being safe on shore. In adoption, we never want to give the idea to ourchildren that the circumstance of their birth was a bad thing. Their birth parents and culture were not inferior or substandard to the adoptive parents. Instead, their birth situation lacked something needful for a child; something that needed to be restored. Mirriam-Webster defines restoring as “to put again in possession of something.” This is a much better picture of what adoption is. In the Bible, Jesus was giving us the chance to reclaim what humans had lost in the Garden of Eden: a relationship with God. How did Jesus go about restoring individuals? He treated them as important, as in the story of Zacchaeus found in Luke 19 and the Samaritan woman in John 4; he treated them as worthy of wholeness, such as the blind man in Mark 10, and the woman who was subject to bleeding in Luke 8; and finally, Jesus connected with each person where they were and walked with them.

    We understand that Jesus is the only one who can rescue any of us; however, he calls all of us to be in the restoration business. This is the mandate for all Christians…go to your neighbor and serve a meal, go to your school and tutor a child, go to a prison and encourage an inmate, go to a nursing home and read to a senior. In each of these situations, we must Step Into someone else’s life. It may be convenient, safe, and friendly, or it may be very inconvenient, unknown, and painful. Adoption is Stepping Into the life of a child not to rescue but to restore.

    One may ask, “What does adoption restore?” This is a question that must be answered carefully knowing that we can restore only a portion of what the child has lost. Additionally, adoptions fall into many different categories: private domestic, international, and foster care. This suggests that a child’s need for restoration will look different for each. Following is a list of some of the things an adoptive relationship may restore.

·       Stability and a sense of security

·       A healthy bond with a caring adult

·       Health and medical care

·       Self-worth and unconditional love

·       A Family Unit in which they can grow and learn


In all these elements, we as adoptive parents simply provide something that should have been present for the child in their birth home or country. The child came to us with the capacity to learn and grow and love and we as adoptive parents only nurture that. The child is not lucky nor deficient, he is only in need of a place to mature. We step into their lives knowing that with God’s help, we can offer a place of restoration.


Don’t wait for someone else to step forward - Be The One!


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