4. Some people, for any number of reasons, are uncomfortable with the idea of transracial adoption. Other people, because of their views on race, are outright opposed to the idea of transracial adoption; they believe that adoption across ethnic lines should not be practiced. How might the Bible speak to these concerns?
Well, I think it depends on the nature of the discomfort or opposition. If the discomfort or opposition is grounded in some assumption that “races” are unequal or that “races” should remain segregated in family and social relationships, I think the Bible rebukes and corrects that kind of thinking in several ways. First, it’s clear that there is only one “race” of man, all descended from our original parents Adam and Eve (Gen. 2; Acts 17:26). There is no biblical basis for discomfort or opposition based on racial attitudes. Second, the alienation that sometimes stirs opposition to transracial adoption is really a spiritual problem. It’s a product of the Fall of man into sin. The cure for that problem is saving faith in Jesus Christ, wherein man is first reconciled to God and then reconciled to other men. So, for Christians in particular, those who are adopted into the family of God through faith in Christ, opposition to transracial adoption is tantamount to denying the work of Christ on the cross.
But there may also be discomfort or opposition not based on racial attitudes but some prudential concerns. Some may wonder if they are sufficiently equipped to parent across culture and ethnicity. Others may worry about the tension or conflict they may experience. There we have to remember that we are not called to love only in the convenient places and situations. We’re called to a radical love, one that mirrors the love of God for broken sinners. And the end of such love is unspeakable joy. For the joy set before Him, Jesus Christ endured the inconvenient and uncomfortable agony of the cross to redeem a people who were hostile toward Him. Adoption across ethnic lines may be one of the best pictures of that radical Christ-like love we have available to us today. So, “prudential” concerns that awaken discomfort aren’t finally sufficient reason to refuse or oppose such adoptions.
5. More and more couples are considering adopting transracially. How would you counsel a couple that desires to adopt a child from another race (i.e. ethnicity)? How would you seek to educate them theologically? How should the gospel help shape their view of transracial adoption?
The first thing I would want to do is simply commend and encourage them. I’d want to commend this act of selflessness and love. And I’d want to encourage them to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for their every need. That’s true of parenting in general, and it’s true of the specific case of transracial adoption and parenting. So, first, be encouraged.
Second, I’d want to encourage them to jettison the idea of “race” as it has historically been defined. Drop it like the bad habit it is. Learn to read the Scripture for its accent on our common humanity. Hayes’ Biblical Theology of Race is very valuable in this regard. Think of the children, indeed all people, as essentially “same” rather than “other.”
But third, having acknowledged our common humanity, think and teach your children to think in terms of “the nations.” In other words, there’s a tremendous opportunity in multi-ethnic families to cultivate a deeper concern for missions and getting the gospel to all nations. Try to prevent conversations and cross-cultural education from terminating on man or your family; try to think of those conversations as opportunities for thinking great thoughts about God who wants to be known among all people. The Lord has purposed that His glory will be shown in the bowing of the nations to His name. Our reflection on ethnicity and culture is incomplete if it doesn’t have that goal in mind.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Here's a good Q&A on transracial adoption with Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman: