If you belong to the faith community and you have adopted a little one, adoption questions are going to arise from time to time. The Bible has been an invaluable source of comfort, guidance, wisdom, and direction for believers for millennia. Believers should lean into the Bible and use their wisdom to comfort little ones who have adoption questions. They should know that they are not alone. God loves them. God has not abandoned them. They are not unwanted. Here is some Bible literature you can share with your little one about Adoption in the Bible.
The Bible is the #1 bestselling book of all time. The Bible is a source of comfort, inspiration, guidance, and wisdom to not only Christianity and Judaism but also to people from all walks of life. The Bible’s principles are timeless and eternal. It speaks on everyday topics such as relationships, love, wealth, health, and sexuality. The Bible also gives insight into the supernatural and delves into subjects such as God, angels, demons, the origins of the universe, and life after death. No wonder it’s a bestseller.
Surprisingly enough, the Bible has a lot to say about adoption. Though the ancient, Old Testament culture was vastly different from our culture, God has a lot to say about mothers, fathers, children, orphans, and adoption. God’s heart for children is evident in the Old as well as the New Testament. Psalm 68:5-6 says that God is a Father to the Fatherless and that God sets the lonely in families. In the New Testament, God says in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world.” The good news is that God put into place a system to care for 1) childless women who seek a child and 2) orphans and fatherless children. Let’s take a look.
Adoption in the Bible
There are many people in the ancient world of the Bible who were adopted. Though their adoption looked very different from ours, it was adoption, nonetheless. Their adoption was more of a surrogate mothership. Our involves the Child Welfare System and the Legal System. They needed to be in the presence of 2-3 witnesses, or perhaps a leader at the gates of the city in order to make it legal. But each adoption had its purpose. Here are the most obvious adoptees in the Bible.
Perhaps the most notable adoptee in the Bible is Moses. Against all odds, he survived the genocide of baby boys announced by the Pharaoh. It was sort of population control against the Hebrews because Egyptians were afraid they would grow too numerous and overwhelm them.
Moses was saved due to the ingenuity of 3 women: Shiprah, Puah, and Miriam. Two of them were midwives and the third was his sister. The midwives were ordered to kill all Hebrew boys by drowning them in the Nile River. But they feared God, so every time a boy was born, they would save the boy. When Moses was born, they did the same and his parents hid him for 3 months. When they could no longer hide him, his birth mother devised a plan: she would make a small Ark, put Moses in it, and float him down the river with the hopes that someone would save him. The dangers were crocodiles, drowning and of that, an Egyptian would see him and not have mercy. Of course, his sister ensured that he survived and placed him in the arms of his adopted mom, the Princess of Egypt. (Exodus 1:2-22)
Moses must have dealt with identity issues. Despite what the movies say, Moses appeared to know the whole time that he was a Hebrew raised by Egyptians. In the first part of his life, he identified with Egyptians. But in the second part of his life, he forsook his Egyptian heritage and identified with the Hebrews. But when push came to shove, he violently sided with his Hebrew roots.
Moses must have struggled with loyalty issues. On the one hand, his adopted mom gave him the best Egyptian life had to offer. But his biological mom gave him his heritage. He balanced life with two moms: his biological mom and then his adopted mom. Questions of which mother should I be loyal must have plagued his mind. The bottom line is that it is possible for adopted children to be loyal to two moms.
In the Hebrew book of Esther, Hadassah was a Hebrew girl who was raised by her older cousin, Mordecai. She rose in stature to become the Queen of Persia. However, she hid her true lineage from the King as a matter of self-preservation. But revealed who she really was, when the time came to rise up and defend her people.
Esther was an orphan. We don’t know all of the details, but somehow, Esther lost her parents. When due to natural disaster or war or abandonment or death, Esther was raised by Mordecai rather than her parents. We don’t know if she ever knew them. We don’t know if she missed them. We don’t know the circumstances. But the bottom line is that she was raised by a family member. In today’s terms, this would have been known as a Kinship adoption. Children in kinship adoption can identify with Esther because she too handled a situation that was unique, but she handled it with grace.
Esther struggled with her identity. Esther was a Hebrew girl being raised in the land of Persia, modern-day Iran. She must have been able to blend into the Persian culture for no one to be able to pick up on the fact that she was really Hebrew, not Persian. This is not an uncommon problem in some adoption: Fitting in. Adopted children don’t want to be known as the “adopted child”; they just want to fit into the family and be like everyone else. Regardless of heritage, not all adopted children are going to look like the rest of the family. Especially in Transracial Adoptions, this can be a sensitive topic. They cannot hide their identity. So, questions like: Who am I? Am I white? Am I black? What is my real name? What is my true heritage? All of these questions Esther faced. All of these questions your child will face also.
Esther had a purpose. Esther could have complained about her situation. No parents. Living in a foreign land. Now forced to marry a man she did not know. However, Mordecai helped her to realize her purpose. When it was time to defend her people from the evil Haman, he urged her to speak on her peoples’ behalf. Doing do, uninvited could have cost her her life. But he makes her see that her entire people’s lives were at stake. He states in Esther 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” He was saying that perhaps all of these events happened for a reason. Perhaps Esther was placed in her position for a purpose. Perhaps it was providence that she was placed in a position of influence. She ultimately used her influence to convince the King to defend and save her people. Your adopted child may struggle with why bad things happened in their lives. They need to be assured that they have a purpose. They may not have control over what happens to them, but they do have control over how they respond to the things that happen to them. Let your child know they have a purpose and a hope and a future. It could change the course of their lives.
Bible-believing Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Therefore, in a sense, Jesus was adopted. Joseph was his adopted father or stepfather. The Books of Matthew and Luke, in what is commonly known as the Christmas story explains the dilemma that Mary and Joseph found themselves in. St Luke tells the story from Mary’s point of view. That the Angel Gabriel visited the young lady and announced that she was chosen to bear the Messiah. The Bible makes clear that this was a Virgin Birth. Mary and Joseph were betrothed or engaged but had not consummated the marriage. The Bible makes it clear at least twice that no man had “touched” her. But the dilemma was this: she was, in effect, an unwed mother. In today’s culture, being an unwed mom is no longer a stigma. But in ancient Israel, it was a death sentence. A pregnancy implied a sexual union. And if everyone knew she wasn’t married yet, then the implication is that she committed adultery, which brought with it the death penalty.
The Book of Matthew explains the dilemma from Joseph’s point of view. He had a decision to make: to expose her infidelity and have her face the possibility of death by stoning; divorce her quietly because of her infidelity or marry her. He also was visited by the Angel Gabriel who announced to Joseph that Mary was carrying Christ, the Messiah. Joseph chose the 3rd choice. By doing so, he not only saved Mary from embarrassment and possibly death, but he also took her child into his home and made Jesus his son. Unbelievers knew Jesus as “the Carpenter’s Son”, and He probably received ridicule from it. Followers of Jesus knew Him as The Son of God.
Jesus was adopted. It may have come with all the Pomp and Circumstance with today’s legal proceedings, but by and large, he was adopted. He was raised by someone that was not his biological father, taught didactically, and through example the Hebrew laws and traditions; he was taught a trade. Luke 2:52 says that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with men.” I’m sure Joseph had something to do with that. The Bible says that Joseph was a righteous man. Because of that, his righteousness influenced his decisions: from deciding not to expose Mary, to deciding to raise Jesus as his own son to pass on his faith to Jesus. We need more men like that in our own time. Men who will stand and do the right thing, regardless of the consequences. We and our children will be blessed if we do.
God adopted us
The Bible explains time and again that God adopted us. John 1:12 speaks of this phenomenon: “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…”. In other words, those who believe and receive Jesus enter into the Family of God. Romans 8 explains it this way: those who follow Jesus receive the “Spirit of sonship” and become heirs. The language that is used here is one of adoption. In ancient Israel, a man who did not have an heir was considered a shame. Adoption was the legal solution to pass on his legacy, his heritage, and his possessions to the next generation. Romans 8:12-17 states that God has adopted us; that he took in those who did not deserve to be in His Family and treated us as sons and daughters. What an honor and privilege to be in the Family of God. John 3:1 puts it this way: “How great is the love of the Father that has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God.”
The Bible has a lot to say about adoption. There are other examples of adoption in the Bible such as Sarah adopting Ishmael. Genesis. Jacob adopted Ephraim and Manasseh. Genesis. Joseph adopting Makir. Each one of these is examples of parents passing on what they have so that the family line continues in strength.
But the Bible also has a lot to say about how much God loves orphans and widows. How God set up a system to care for those in the community who may have experienced some type of disaster. It was the People of God who were supposed to care for the least of these. For the widow, the death of a husband could have meant poverty, homelessness, lack of protection. For the orphan, it often meant the same thing. There were no such things as group homes or orphanages in Bible times. God’s plan for fatherless children in need was The Family. Isn’t that a great thing that God has a plan for us? He has not abandoned us but has for us a hope and a future. That is something to be proud of.