Well-known Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson made some widely publicized comments on the 700 Club earlier this week that have received much attention in the adoption ministry and disability ministry communities. His remarks were in response to a question from a single mother with three children, each adopted from a different country…
Our friend and colleague Shannon Dingle wrote a marvelous response to Mr. Robertson’s remarks on her personal blog last week that I strongly encourage you to check out and share with other adoptive families. I hope Shannon’s blog post circulates to everyone who needs to hear her message. I wonder how many adoptive parents have experienced statements similar to Mr. Robertson’s from people in positions of leadership or influence within their churches. As a physician with a fair amount of experience in treating adopted children with emotional, behavioral and developmental disorders and a working knowledge of the Bible, allow me to suggest an alternate response to Mr. Robertson or any other Christ follower if a similar question comes up again.
Susan…you don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk. I’m sure Jesus is pleased with your worship as expressed through the love and care you give to your children. After all, the Bible says caring for orphans is a reflection of true religion.
Your children are your ministry…and your ministry has the potential to be very demanding. Children available for adoption are more likely to have been exposed to significant trauma, neglect or abuse, the effects of which may not become fully evident for many years. They may require medical treatments that are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive in their countries of origin. They are more likely than biological children to require treatment for mental health disorders.
Consider this…How many men would be interested in committing to a relationship with you if your ministry were overseas mission work? Life could be pretty good if you’re called to a place that’s temperate and peaceful with lots of modern conveniences. But what if the future were unclear? What if you were called to a place of isolation or hardship where the threat of poverty, danger and persecution is ever present? Would that limit your potential dating pool?
In some ways, your ministry could be viewed by others as more challenging than the overseas missionary. If their assignment becomes too demanding or unpleasant or destructive to family life, missionaries generally have the option to go home or request a reassignment from their sponsoring organization. But you’ve made a lifetime commitment to your ministry with your children…a commitment you can’t walk away from in the event life becomes too hard.
You have an extraordinary faith. While my wife and I haven’t felt called to pursue adoption as you have, I’m not sure I’d have sufficient faith to follow such a call if we received one. I don’t know that I have the spiritual maturity to commit to the sacrifices that might be involved. I suspect that the men who lose interest after they learn of your children are doing you a service in considering the possible cost before making a commitment. You and your children deserve someone who would consider serving as your husband and their father as an honor as opposed to a burden. You also deserve a church family who would consider it an honor to come beside you as you raise your children with the knowledge of Jesus and His love for them.
Mr. Robertson was clearly unprepared for the question he was asked earlier this week. We can learn from his experience and be better prepared to respond as Jesus would have us respond to the adoptive families who cross our paths.
Note…Shannon Dingle’s personal blog richly chronicles her family’s experience during their recent adoption of Zoe Amanda. It’s a pretty impressive living testimony of God at work through the lives of Shannon, her husband Lee and their three children and an inspiring read.