NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The
adoption agency Bethany Christian Services says interest from couples in
adopting is significantly ahead of what it was last year, a trend that is being
seen elsewhere and, adoption leaders say, is an example of a growing adoption
movement among Christians.
International adoption placements through Bethany are up 66 percent this year
compared to last year while inquiries about international adoption are up 95
percent, the agency reported July 19. Domestic infant adoption interest also is
up: Applications are up 23 percent and home studies up 15 percent.
Representatives from Nighlight Christian Adoptions and Buckner International —
two Christian-based agencies — say they, too, have seen an uptick in interest
from couples wanting to adopt.
The increased interest comes as ministries and churches renew their focus on
adoption. The Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in June had a special
emphasis on adoption and donated its offering “overage” to adoption
scholarships for pastors and missionaries. Saddleback Church, where Rick Warren
pastors, hosted a Forum on Orphans and Adoption in May, and the Christian
Alliance for Orphans in April held its sixth annual Summit conference, an event
that grows in popularity each year.
Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, said there’s
“no doubt” that there’s a growing adoption movement among Christians.
Nightlight — which has offices in California, Colorado and South Carolina — is
a member of the National Christian Adoption Fellowship, which is comprised of
nine adoption agencies and programs. All nine, he said, have seen an increased
interest this year from couples wanting to adopt. In addition to an upswing in
interest in international and domestic adoption, Nightlight also has seen in
increase in interest in its embryo adoption program, in which couples adopt
donated frozen embryos.
“I think the reason for the upswing in the number of home studies that are being
done and the number of families that are applying is because of this increased
awareness within the church of the need to take care of kids,” Stoddart told
Baptist Press (BP).
Estimates of the number of orphans worldwide varies wildly, although all stats
put the number in the millions. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Russell
D. Moore and his wife Maria adopted two boys from a Russian orphanage. He has
since written a book about adoption, Adopted for Life, and he often speaks to
groups on the subject.
“The Spirit of Christ is on the move among evangelicals, and this is just the
beginning,” Moore, dean of the seminary’s school of theology, told BP. “… (M)any
Christians are awakening to the radical nature of the gospel itself. We, the gospel
says, were adopted. This reality tears down any artificial notion that adoption
is some kind of ‘less than’ or ‘Plan B’ family. Christians are also waking up
to what Jesus and His brother James define as pure religion: the care of the
least of these, the orphans and widows.”
Other factors are at work, Moore said. Christians have seen “the plague of
fatherlessness” and been convicted to make a difference. There’s also a
multiplying effect: As couples adopt, their friends see that adoption isn’t so “strange”
and they, too, begin to “pray and ask God if this is where He’s leading them,”
Moore said. Pastors also are leading the way, he said.
“Pastors are starting to preach the whole counsel of God about the Father’s
love for the orphan, and calling churches to support the effort in all sorts of
ways. Not every Christian is called to adopt, but every Christian is called to
care for widows and orphans,” Moore said, pointing to James 1:27. “I literally
do not go five minutes these days without hearing from at least one family, via
e-mail or social media, who testify that God has called them to adopt.”
Kevin Ezell, who served as the president of this year’s Pastors’ Conference,
has seen firsthand that pastors are taking action. He expected around 70
Southern Baptist pastors and missionaries would apply for the adoption
scholarships; however, 140 did so.
“I’ve never been more proud of SBC pastors than the last month,” Ezell, pastor
of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., told Baptist Press.
Ezell learned of one pastor’s family who was adopting a child with spina bifida
and another pastor’s family who was adopting twins with Down syndrome.
“The stories are incredible,” Ezell said.
Although the funds were limited for the scholarships, Ezell is trying to find enough
money to cover everyone who is eligible. Church members who see their pastor
adopting a child will be more likely to do the same, said Ezell, whose family
has adopted three children.
“If a pastor does it, it changes the atmosphere of the church,” he said.
Buckner International, which places children in families through domestic and
international adoption, also has seen an increase in inquiries and applications
this year, said Debbie Wynne, director of Buckner Adoption and Maternity
Services. She credits much of it to churches adding adoption, foster care and
“There is a grassroots movement of churches building these advocacy ministries
to support and inspire their church members to actively help ‘the least of
these,’” Wynne said.
The Haiti earthquake also impacted couples. Buckner’s international adoption
program received more than 3,800 inquiries in January and February about
adopting children from the country, Wynne said.
Bethany Christian Services said the Haiti disaster had a big impact in
demonstrating to Christians the plight of orphans.
“The figures Bethany released show strong improvement as we confront the global
orphan crisis, but the need still remains as there are still an incredible
number of orphaned children who wait for their ‘forever family,’” Bill
Blacquiere, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, said in a
Stoddart, of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, said despite the positive increase
in interest, some children — older ones and minorities, for instance — remain
the toughest to place into families. The outlook is not good for an orphan from
a foreign country who never finds a home.
“That still is a great need,” Stoddart said. “With those kids, if they’re not
adopted, we know what happens when they age out of the orphanage. They become
victims of one sort or another. The girls get into prostitution and the boys
into petty street crime and drugs. The number of kids who commit suicide is
staggering. Here in the United States we have kids that have problems during
their teen years and rebel, but there still is that family that is there as a
safety net. When you get out of an orphanage at age 17 or 18, there is no
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. Visit the ministries
SBC Adoption Fund for Ministers. Bethany Christian Services is providing a
matching grant for the first 25 pastors who are approved for the SBC Adoption
Fund and who use Bethany for their adoption service.)