We live in polarized times, and it shows up in many issues. One of the unfortunate consequences of this is that if you say that a particular course of action might have any negative consequences anywhere, you must be against that course of action. You must be an enemy of it. If you think home schooling, for example, could ever end badly, you must be against home schooling. This does not follow, and if the sensitivities of our illogical age are honored, the results will be increasingly bad.
We have gotten to the point where knowledge that some people flunk math classes is taken as a deep conviction (on the part of the person who knows it) that math classes ought not to be taken. No . . perhaps a person should enroll in them with an accurate understanding of what it is going to take. Trying to get people prepared is not the same thing as scaring them off.
I say this because I want to urge a central caution about adoption, and I want to do so as someone who honors and respects those who have counted the cost and who have done it right. May their tribe increase, and God bless all of them.
There are numerous other issues that flow out of this one concern, and perhaps I can develop them further some other time. But as I have watched Christian couples adopting children (over decades), I have come to a conclusion, and I would ask every prospective adopting couple to consider this deeply, and here it is. Is the adoption desire and process being led and driven by the father?
This is not the same thing as asking if he is okay with it. This is not the same thing as wondering if he has signed on. I am saying that if the energy for the adoption is coming from the mom, the chances of long-term difficulties in the family are greatly increased. The kind of adoption that is modeled for us in Scripture is an adoption that results in us crying out “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).
It should also be noted that this is not the same thing as checking whether the couple would say that the whole process was driven by the father. In our conservative Christian circles, we know what the appropriate language is concerning headship and submission, and so there are many families where mom runs the show, and yet everybody dutifully keeps up the appearances. So if you were ask them if this were a “father-driven” adoption, the answer would come back “absolutely.” But everybody who knows the family knows that it isn’t true. If we held a conference for men, and we had two registration lines — one for hen-pecked husbands, and the other for men who were not — we might discover that half the guys in the non-hen-pecked line were there because their wives told them to stand in that line. What we do and what we say we are donig are not necessarily the same thing.
Of course I am not belittling or disparaging the important and influential role of the mother — but her role is the same as it is with her natural children. She is the church — the place of nurture, comfort, acceptance. If all that comfort is offered without a decisive and genuine decision from the father, all that sentiment will simply provide abundant raw material for that place to become a place of turmoil. The father’s decision must not be pro forma. He must not be rubber-stamping anything. He must not be driven in this thing; he must drive. And if he isn’t driving, then don’t go.