Discerning your call to adoption

Photo via flickr user Wu's Photo Land
 It's National Adoption Month and if you're like me you've probably heard a lot about adoption this month. Facebook statuses, tweets, blog posts, maybe even a sermon or two.  Hopefully in all that information you've read the important truth that goes something like, "Not all Christians are called to adoption, but we are all called to orphan care." I call this an important truth because sometimes in our passion for a cause, we can introduce guilt to people who shouldn't be experiencing it.  Guilt is not a good motivation for adoption. We should never adopt to quell our feelings of guilt.

Conviction, however, is something to which we need to pay attention.  There is a difference between guilt and conviction.

Guilt makes us feel discouraged, depressed, and usually like we have to do something to earn God's favor. Guilt tells us that God's grace is not enough.

Conviction, however, enlivens, motivates, and compels us to change.  Conviction is what we feel when God's grace is so real to us that all we want to do is respond to him in obedience.

If you're a person who's been thinking about adoption this month- or maybe even before- and you think you're feeling conviction, but you're not quite sure what your calling is- this post is meant to serve you in your journey.  I'm not going to tell you what your adoption calling is, but I hope to give you a way to think about it.

This beautiful Venn diagram is complements a friend of mine, Rev. Heidi De Jonge.  Heidi currently pastors a church in Ontario, but way back in 2007 when I met her she was the Pastor of Discernment at my and John's seminary.  Heidi knows way more about calling than I ever hope to know so she graciously allowed me to use her diagram; hopefully I do the explanation justice.

Each circle in the diagram represents a competent of calling:

Blue is the world's deep need.
Red is our desires.
Yellow is our competency.

We discover our calling where our desires and competency meet the world's deep need.

When it comes to adoption, first we recognize the world's deep need is for children without families, or children whose families aren't able to care for them, to find loving parents.

Next we examine our desires and our competency.  Personally I think it is the "desire" aspect that has the most potential for guilt and conviction confusion.  If you are someone who is considering their call to adoption, ask yourself this: do you want to adopt?  Do you want to parent an adopted child?  Very few adoptive parents would say they can't wait to go through all the paperwork and home study and waiting and eventually some of the hard realities of raising an adopted child, but at the end of they day adoptive parents are willing to do it because their desire to adopt is greater than their desire to avoid the stress and pain of adoption.  If you are called to adopt, God should be working in your heart so that adoption is something you want to do (conviction) not just something you think you should do (guilt).

Competency is whole other question.  I've met a few women who expressed a desire to adopt but just were not able to do so.  One woman and her family wanted to adopt internationally in the worst way, but because of their large family size they did not meet the per capita income requirements.  They were not able to adopt internationally, even though they saw the world's great need and had a desire to fill it.  There are a plethora of criteria for every kind of adoption and foster care; your calling to adoption will be shaped not just by what you want to do or by what the world needs, but by what God has equipped you to do- by what you are able to do.  John and I discerned our calling to adopt from Russia only after our first choice (our desired) country- China- was taken off our list because we did not meet the age requirements.  Competency will shape your calling.

Those are the three considerations that should go into discerning our calling.  But I want to add one note- something I've said before.  That is: I believe that as long as there are orphans in the world, there are people in the world who have been called to adopt who have said, "no." If you see the need for adoption and have the desire to adopt, but are not able to do so at this time, keep your heart open for divine changes or leading that could remove the obstacles.  Likewise, if you see the need and are able to adopt, but do not desire to do so- pay attention to any divinely inspired changes that may happen in your heart over the years to come.  The call to adopt happens in time and while you may not have the calling now, I ask that you leave your heart open to the possibility that it may come in the future.

Finally, you've probably noticed that I've said a lot more about the areas of desire and competency than I have about the world's great need.  That's because I want to share another voice on this topic- the voice of a preacher.  The voice of my good friend Dominic.  You might remember Dominic and his wife Kristin from their awesome contributions to my Mother's Day last May.  Dominic preached what I would describe as a "spot on" sermon on November 4- Orphan Sunday. I've asked him if I could share his sermon with you.

He said yes. So I invite you to read what Dominic has written below and then listen to him deliver a spot on sermon about power and anger and what power and anger have to do with orphans.  You might just be inspired to give a little, "Amen!" I know I was! And I'm not just saying that because of what he says about us. ;-)



My name is Dominic Palacios. I serve as a preaching pastor at Harderwyk Christian
Reformed Church in Holland, MI. My wife Kristin is also a pastor and is currently
working on her PhD. in Old Testament at Notre Dame. Our family is rounded out by our
loving American Bulldog named Bruce.

On November 4, my church gave me the great honor of preaching on Orphan Sunday.
This was a Sunday designated to highlight the great need of caring for orphans around
the world. I found this task be an intimidating assignment. My wife and I have no
children. We are not in the process of adopting. We do not have thousands of dollars to
donate to adoption related causes. The closest connection I have with adoption is that I
am friends with the author of this blog. So, who am I to preach on this topic?

Well, I did the only thing I know how to do... preach the Gospel. The bottom line is that
adoption and orphan care is not just a social issue. It’s a Gospel issue. As Christians,
we are called to plead the case of the fatherless. Adoption is also a window into great
mystery of Christ has done for us. We were all once spiritual orphans. Without any
effort on our part, God brought us into his family at a great price. Sounds like the exact
process that many of you are going through to bring your little ones home. This is a
Gospel issue. So, I figured if I preached the good news of Jesus Christ, then the call to
orphan care would be loud and clear.

Hopefully, that is what you experience as you watch this sermon. It is my prayer that
you will not only see the importance of orphan care, but you will see that God loves you
enough to bring you into the family.

I want to thank Jill for letting me be a guest on her blog. It has been an honor to walk
with the Burdens during this journey. They are great friends and an inspiration to many.
Blessings to all of you as you continue to care for the orphan.


  1. I still have that Venn diagram sitting on my counter since John used it in one of his sermons this past month. I find myself thinking about it often and appreciate reading your blog tonight to make me think about it some more.

    1. John will be so thrilled to know that it made an impact! Thank you for your encouragement Lynae. God's guiding to your in your contemplation!

  2. Katie B.11/15/2012

    Love that it's adoption month and you get to bring Arie home this month too! :)

  3. I'm super interested in hearing his message... But it keeps crashing after about 9 minutes. Is there a direct link that I could access? It was sounding like a great message... I want to hear the rest. :-)

  4. Thanks for visiting our blog! In retrospect I should have asked your permission before sharing your blog post! I hope you don't min! :-)

  5. Anonymous11/27/2012

    thank you.


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