Foster Life

The Problem We Don’t Want to Solve

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while. I hope you’ll read it all the way through.

Let’s start with some math. There are over 104,000 kids in America who are available for adoption. To put that in perspective, it’s roughly the population of Wichita Falls, TX.

It is a massive number. But it’s not the only number to consider. There are around 314,000 Protestant churches in America.

Let’s round the numbers to make the math easy. Say 100,000 kids who can be adopted, and 300,000 churches. With that, one family from every three churches could adopt one kid, and we would be done.

Things are more complicated than that, I know. I’ll deal with that in a moment. But the math is very simple: 1 family from every 3 churches, and all these kids have permanent, forever homes.

We could solve this problem if we wanted to.

Therefore: We have not solved this problem because we do not want to solve it.

Let me be careful here to explain what I mean. I do not mean that we do not want this problem to be solved. Of course we do. We want all children to have loving homes.

But saying “We want the problem to be solved” is not the same as “We want to solve the problem.” We want other people to do the work here, to make the sacrifices, and to bear the burden.

This is not about guilt

I am also not saying that everyone should be a foster or adoptive parent, or that you should feel guilty for not getting directly involved. I don’t believe that is true. There are a lot of good reasons for not fostering or adopting, and they are completely legitimate. This is not an attempt to lay guilt on anyone.

At the same time, you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that we cannot muster one family from every three churches.

What about sibling groups?

I also get that things are not as simple as a math problem. A lot of these kids are in sibling groups. So it is not as simple as one family taking one child. And adopting multiple children is a very complicated proposition.

I know this because my kids are siblings we adopted. I am also painfully aware that, until they came to live with us, this brother and sister had never slept under the same roof. I have also sat in court hearings and heard about siblings who live hours apart because there are not homes that can take them both, even temporarily.

I distinctly remember hearing about two brothers. One lived in Macon, the other on the far side of Atlanta. They had not seen each other in six months. The youngest, who was about two at the time, was beginning to forget he even had a brother.

Yes, adopting multiple children makes things more difficult. It also makes things more urgent.


There are a lot of other things to address. What about the expense? Yes, it can be very expensive to adopt. Kids are expensive in general. I can say, though, that the state of Georgia paid $1500 towards attorney fees for each of our kids, plus we got a big tax credit. So there are offsets. Additionally — and I’m not going too far down this path right now — I think that if churches can build mulit-million dollar facilities, they should be able to finance an adoption or three.

A lot (most?) of these kids are not babies, while a lot of people are only interested in adopting infants. Older kids can potentially come with all sorts of baggage. There are complications involving interracial adoptions and blending families.

More than all this, however, there is the opportunity to display the Gospel.

This is a Gospel issue

Amber and I heard about K and P before we ever met them. Before that first meeting, we had decided that, if everything went as it seemed to be going, we would adopt them. In other words, before K knew who we were, and before P was even old enough to understand, we intended for them to be our kids.

This is a picture of God’s election. It is incomplete and imperfect, yes. But it still points us to the reality that, before we knew God, he chose us (Romans 9:11).

And just as our salvation came at great cost, giving these children homes will cost us dearly. It is not an easy thing. But it is certainly an opportunity to show the world that we take God’s commitment to the fatherless seriously.

As I have said, this is not for everyone. Nor is it about making you feel guilty one way or the other. But I am most certainly calling you, and your church, to think on these things.

Pray and ask, “How can I — not someone else — contribute to solving this problem?”