Singles, Adoption, and “Acceptable Religion”
- Thursday, December 20, 2012
It’s a topic most people don’t associate with our singles demographic:
Should we be encouraging singles to adopt? We generally assume it’s a negative thing when parents become single, either through divorce, or the death of their spouse. Raising kids is hard work – even with two parents. But intentionally adopting a child when you’re single? Wow. That just sounds odd, or wrong, to many of us.
But is it?
No state has laws prohibiting an adult from adopting based solely on their marital status. From our government’s perspective, since plenty of kids need to be adopted, one parent is better than none.
More importantly, though, since we evangelicals are to advocate for what God says is right and good, what part about our religion being James 1:27 doesn’t apply to singles? Would you prefer having the state raise children, even if it’s through the pseudo-familial mechanism of well-meaning foster parents? How many people in our prisons today got there in part because of non-existent parental relationships? To what degree could we evangelicals actively participate in lowering the rate of abortion in North America by not marginalizing the willingness of single adults within our faith fellowships who might be open to adoption?
Religion that God Our Father Accepts
Granted, God created the roles of both father and mother to be complementary, providing between them a solid foundation of support for the nurture of well-developed offspring. This is why leaving adoption to married couples has been the normative perspective among people of faith. And undoubtedly, having both a dad and a mom provides the most ideal environment for any child. No one person can play both roles well.
Still, isn’t having one parent better than having none at all? How much of a crisis do we recognize the orphan status as being? Maybe it’s not optimum, but is single parenting implicitly harmful? Despite the death of a parent, children can nevertheless be raised by their surviving mom or dad into productive, responsible adults. Even divorce doesn’t automatically destroy a child’s future. How much less punitive would be a child’s ability to grow up knowing that they were chosen, even if it was by one person, and not two?
Besides, however they’ve come to be single, spouseless parents and their families should find support networks within our communities of faith to supplement the childrearing skills they inevitably lack being without a spouse. Many evangelical churches already provide robust family programming, but as our society becomes ever more diverse, how stigmatized should single parents remain? Yes, accountability and responsibility are biblical concepts, but they’re also two-way streets, aren’t they?
Which brings us back to singles intentionally becoming a parent through adoption.
Good idea, or bad idea?
Is it better to leave a child in foster care someplace, or for that child to have at least one adult who makes the commitment to raise them as their own? Not that foster parents can’t provide society with considerable emotional resources that children needing foster care would be utterly destitute without. But isn’t having the permanency of adoptive care even better than the tentative nature of foster care?
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