I can hardly breathe,” I told my wife. And I meant it. We were in an old elevator headed to the third floor of a battered women’s shelter in downtown Taipei City, Taiwan just seconds before meeting our two new daughters. They were five-and-a-half and three-and-a-half years old respectively, and were just as nervous as we were. The social workers blandly announced to the girls, “Here’s your mama, and here’s your papa.” They handed us a bag of clothes that didn’t fit and sent us on our way. No fanfare. No celebration. No instructions.

It was one of the greatest days of our lives. It was also the culmination of years of conviction, hard work, bureaucracy, patience (impatience) and prayer. The most common question we heard through the whole process was, “Don’t you already have kids?”

What those people meant was, “Why would you adopt when you can obviously have kids biologically?” We had three biological children but it never crossed our minds that we should not add to our family through the gift of adoption. Here are the factors that drove our decision to adopt:

 

We are committed to life 

For our entire marriage we have supported many pro-life causes. But we always felt that if we were going to encourage unwed girls to give birth to their babies, then Christians should be in line, ready to adopt those children given up. It was our way of putting our “money where our mouths were.”

 

We are committed to the helpless and disadvantaged 

James (1:27) makes clear that one of the evidences of our faith is how we respond to the “affliction” of widows and orphans. Taking care of these two groups is time consuming, messy and sacrificial. But it’s a central part of the Christian life. We wanted to make sure that our family was heavily invested in this important admonition.

 

We are committed to biblical manhood 

God calls men to lead, provide and protect (Gen 1-2; Eph 5:22-33; 1 Kings 2:1-9; 1 Pet 3:1-7; Col 3:18-25). This is a fundamental teaching in the Bible and it does not merely pertain to the four walls of the home. Men should look for those who need protection and provision. There are fatherless children all across the world. Every year I meet women burdened for adoption but their husbands won’t budge. It’s usually something about retirement, college costs or finally being able to afford that boat they always wanted. In our home, the men lead and sacrificially give of themselves for the good of others.

 

We are committed to gospel-centeredness 

The doctrine of adoption is at the heart of the gospel. We are born outside of Christ, but through Christ we receive “the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom 8:15). Physical adoption is a daily, living picture of this spiritual reality. It is a constant reminder to our family and others of the grace and mercy of God and his love for the lost and care for the fatherless.

 

We are committed to the nations 

God doesn’t call everyone to international adoption, but the result is a reminder of God’s love for every “nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev 14:6). Every week the Lord adds people to his church and tells you and me to love them. They may not look like we do, smell like we do, have the same socio-economic background as we do or talk like we do. But that’s the beauty of the gospel. Twice we have brought into our home children from another country and told our other kids, “They don’t talk like you or look like you, but here’s another one; love them.” It has been one of the biggest blessings in the whole process for us and has dramatically shaped our view of the whole world.

Maybe the next big decision in your life will involve a vacation house or a boat or a car that you don’t need. Maybe it will involve trying to stock away more money for that early retirement for which you’re hoping. It might even involve contributing to a monument or building with your name on it. Or, just maybe, it will involve an old elevator in another country with your mind in a whirl, your heart racing, adrenaline rushing and your lungs struggling inexplicably for their next breath. And in making that decision, it might not even cross your mind that you already have kids.

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Randy Stinson serves as Senior vice president for academic administration and provost. He is also associate professor of leadership and family ministry. You can follow Dr. Stinson on Twitter at @RandyStinson.

*Editors note: This excerpt originally appeared in the Guide to Adoption and Orphan Care edited by Russell D. Moore. You can learn more about this guidebook at press.sbts.edu.