In 2011, little Annika was welcomed into her forever family when her mom, Kirsti, adopted her from Russia with the help of America World. Since her arrival home, Annika has made a big impact on her extended family, as well as her community. She has a strong love for Jesus and anything involving singing, a stage, musicals or horses.
Her aunt, Sara Brunsvold, continues to watch Annika thrive and understandably has a strong stance on the loveliness of standing up for orphans regardless of what country they are in.
When Sara read a recent news story that perpetuated negative views toward international adoption, she decided to make her stance known more broadly in the hopes of encouraging adoptive parents and offering insight to those with less exposure to adoption. This article first appeared on her blog, Find the Lovely, on June 4, 2015.
My sister-in-law with her newly adopted daughter, Moscow 2011.
(Photo credit: Brunsvold family)
“Well, I just don’t understand why she has to go all the way across the world to adopt when there are so many kids right here in our own backyard who need a home. It’s so sad.”
This, or something strikingly similar, was the response one of my relatives voiced when she heard my sister-in-law was adopting a little girl from Russia. This was not the first time I had heard this response to international adoption, and it was not the last.
My sister-in-law is not alone in enduring such criticism. Americans who have adopted internationally hear this time and time again. And to be honest, it’s something that really, really gets under my skin.
Makes. My. Turkey. Fry.
International adoption is not better or more admirable than domestic adoption — but it is certainly not less either. And my turkey sizzles when it is looked upon as less, wrong, misguided or in any way self-serving.
It’s time to direct attention away from preconceived notions and misinformation about international adoption and focus on the lovely contained within it. Because, oh, how much lovely there is to see!
1. What matters is not from where parents adopt; what matters is that they are adopting. It matters they are standing up for an orphan. My sister-in-law is among the few called to give an all-in response to the world’s orphan crisis. She was called to provide a home. Others are called to provide another form of care. What matters is they stand when it’s easier to sit (and criticize).
2. God does not see country lines; we do. When Jesus told us to love our neighbors, He made it clear that “neighbor” did not apply only to those within a 10-mile radius (Luke 10:25-37). The children in America do not have more or less value to Him than the kids in Russia or Uganda or Canada or Haiti. He made them all the same and wants all of them to know the love of a family. The fact He would pair a parent and child of two different cultures is the epitome of His statement that we are all His children (Galatians 3:26) — one large, eclectic family for whom He has a big, big house.
3. Just as missionaries go where God sends them, so do adoptive parents. To criticize an American parent for adopting internationally is akin to criticizing an American missionary for choosing to live abroad. America is so spiritually depraved that other countries are seeing US as a missions field. They are sending missionaries to us. Yet no one here criticizes one of our own for going to Uganda to reach someone in the love of Christ. Why? Because they know the missionary is following God’s leading. The same mentality should be applied to adoptive parents. God may lead them to a domestic orphan, or He may say “Go 10,000 miles from here.” It is up to Him to decide, and it’s up to the parents to listen.
4. The only “sad” part about international adoption is critics can’t see that a child is now in a safe home. Really, that’s the bottom line. Why would anyone begrudge a child this chance simply because the child is from a different country? Why would anyone begrudge my niece this family — or my family this little girl? Look at her. She was not a mistake. She is a gift. Intended for us and us for her.
5. No one who opens their home to an orphan deserves blame for a broken system. Yes, it is heartbreaking that the U.S. has so many children in foster homes without forever families. God does not want these precious souls to wither. There is a lot of blame to be fairly placed on several points in the foster care system issue. But the adoptive families deserve ZERO of this blame. They answered the call bravely, stood up and leaned in where others could not or would not.
6. Neither domestic nor international adoption is easy, and those who go down this road deserve respect. Adoption is the response of someone motivated by pure love and desire to please their Maker when He told us to care for the orphans (Isaiah 1:17; James 1:27). Adoption is an arduous process domestically. International adoption comes with its own set of challenges, such as tens of thousands of dollars required, weeks upon weeks of travel time, international relations red tape, and years-long side effects from hellish conditions their child suffered. Hellish as in war, famine, massacres, disease, and lack of human touch. International adoption is not something to decry. It is something to celebrate, for just like with domestic adoption, it requires a deeply committed and self-sacrificial heart. It is exactly what this world could use more of.
Support groups for adoptive families are a thing for a reason. There is a whole level of trial and guilt and heartache that non-adoptive parents cannot understand. Whether they adopted domestically or internationally, or both, these families need support — not second-guessing and criticism.
Orphans need support even more.
I challenge you to prayerfully consider what your role is in the global orphan crisis. Find out what it is God is calling you to do to stand up for an orphan.
Then go do it.
Are you called to adopt but not sure what the next step is? Countless orphans are waiting for their forever families. Visit the America World Adoption website to learn more about the adoption process and some of the children who wait.
If you are not called to adopt (and not everyone is) we would encourage you to roll up your sleeves and make a difference in the lives of orphans worldwide.
- Take a mission trip to an orphanage
- Financially support adoptive families
- Sponsor a child
- Host an older child in your home
- Give to provide for the needs of orphans