It was nearing the end of a busy year and we had been to an adoption information session. This was very helpful in explaining all the reasons adoption was a bad idea for us and I had all the arguments neatly aligned in my mind.
“We are already too busy doing good things.”
“We already work for disadvantaged children through my paid work”
“It would be too hard to parent two children “normally” and one therapeutically.”
“Our family is too flawed.”
“Social workers might see our faith and criticise us and our parenting and I don’t think I could cope with that.”
“It makes no sense financially or career wise to do this.”
“Our birth children would suffer.”
“I am too flawed.”
The good thing about being busy is it is a great way to avoid those pricks of conscience.
Then one day I was flicking through Facebook and a watched a video a friend had posted about the birth of Jesus.
It was a modern-day retelling. And Mary and Joseph, both teenagers were sheltering on a dark night, in an underpass with the newborn baby Jesus.
Jesus, Emmanuel , God with us.
And it occurred to me, that throughout history, God had communicated with us in many ways, through creation, through the Law and the prophets, through signs and wonders. When he wanted to communicate most fully, when he really wanted us to understand what he is like, what love is like, the maker and sustainer of the universe became a human baby. He became part of a human family. He had a human Mum and Dad.
He was born into poverty, a member of a nationality under occupation by the Roman Empire, his parentage a potential cause of scandal and gossip, who had to flee as a refugee to Egypt. He grew up and learnt to walk and talk and read in a human family.
This was a high risk venture.
“The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.”
Among us. Not at arms length. Not on a correspondence course. Not part-time with frequent respite trips back to heaven.
“He became flesh and dwelt among us.”
In our nation, there are thousands of children taken into care from situations that were unsafe, neglectful or abusive. For some the courts decide that it is not safe and will never be safe for them to return to their birth family. They are in effect orphans, brought up by the state.
As a follow of Jesus, I am called to care about these children. I should and do care about having high standards in social work, for foster carers and the work they do to be appreciated. I should campaign for action to prevent and break the cycles of generational abuse. I believe that those of us who work in education or health have a extra duty of care for these children, whose start in life has been so very hard.
But maybe, just maybe, God is calling me not just to shout and cheer “I love you” from the sidelines, but to step onto the pitch.
Because when God wanted to demonstrate his great love for us, he became a human. He lived grew, ate and drank and learnt to walk; he did that in a family.
If God’s chosen method of child rearing is through family, if he himself joined a human family, then is that what he is asking of us? Is it possible that he wants us to do the same, to offer our home and our family to child without one? For a child to grow up in our forever family, to be nurtured, loved and cherished by us.