Adoption is, I think, the richest term in the magnificent package of blessings God gives to those whom He saves by His sovereign grace.

  • Calling describes the beautiful wooing that God does by the Holy Spirit as He shows us the wonder and glory of Jesus Christ and bids us come to Him in faith and repentance. But calling can sound somewhat mystical.
  • Regeneration (or the New Birth) is the technical term to describe God’s powerful work of changing human hearts so that they receive and rest upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation. But regeneration can sound so formal that it masks the explosive power of the term itself.
  • Justification is the word used for the act of God’s grace by which he declares the one who has come to Christ in simple faith and repentance as “Not guilty”: Both forgiven of the guilt of his or her sins, and reckoned as perfectly righteous in Christ because of Christ’s own righteousness imputed to him or her. But even defining justification can make the words seem coldly legal.
  • Sanctification is the work of God’s grace making the person saved by grace more and more holy. But the heavy-duty term sanctification can sound very mechanical.
  • But adoption sounds warm and inviting – and it is! By nature, we are “children of wrath” and “strangers” to the covenant of grace that unites us to Christ and makes us children of God through Him.  The Lord’s people are predestined to adoption as sons.  Through a faith union with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we receive the adoption as sons – people with the same right of inheritance to eternal glory as Jesus the unique Son of God has.  Wow!  And Christians are given the Holy Spirt to bear witness to their adoption in Jesus Christ.  By Him spiritual children cry out “Abba:  Father” as surely as biological children call their biological parents “Daddy” and “Mommy”.

            Adoption is simply the most poignant term to describe what God does in making us part of His family and becoming our Father in Jesus Christ.

And earthly adoptions – the process and the outcome by which people become parents to children not born to them by natural means are meant to beautifully reflect God’s own adopting work.

But here’s where the touching emotions attached to the term adoption can very easily shroud some very hard realities.

God adopts His children from hard places:

  • By nature, his children are affected by the guilt, moral pollution, and spiritual scars they inherit from their first parents, Adam and Eve.
  • They are each deformed in their inmost beings; and that deformity works itself out in sinful paths and habits that are not pretty to behold.
  • Those sinful paths and habits, coupled with exposure to a world filled with the multiple effects of sin and the curse, often serve to form (or de-form) people with very bad behavior, warped emotions, twisted motivations, and patience-testing lifestyles.

But – with all praise and thanks to Him – God adopts His children from hard places.

And, as romantic as earthly adoption may sound, in many, many cases earthly adoptions (mirroring God’s own adopting work) involve adopting children from hard places; and from hard places not of their own making:

  • Children who gestated during difficult, stressful, or abused pregnancies – children who, in the earliest months of their lives, were exposed in utero to substances, disruptions, or pressures that would bring permanent effects to the child.
  • Children born during difficult births that brought about physical or mental impairments that child will carry for the rest of his or her life.
  • Children who were neglected from their earliest days -deprived of the bonding, affection, and whole- person care that is so critical in the earliest stages of post-natal life.
  • Children who, in their upbringings, have experienced abuse, neglect, and trauma (in some cases, too painful to describe – let alone experience.)

Whether foreign born or born in our own nation, these children from hard places have experienced difficulties and challenges that make them undesirable by many parents who are seeking to adopt.

But God adopts children from hard places; and so do His people.

Our topic today is – as you’ve guessed – Adopting Children from Hard Places.  In the course of the program you’ll hear about organizations and agencies that major on this very challenging area of social concern and social action.  You’ll want to have paper and a pen or pencil available to jot down the names and websites and other contact information.  But, whether or not you consider adopting a child from hard places – I want you to at least be aware of what’s involved.  And I’m hopeful that what you hear in the minutes ahead – and the one from whom you hear it – will stir you to, in one way or the other, help with this demanding enterprise that, in multiple ways, reflects the very heart of our adopting God.  Remember:  Before God, we’re all “children from hard places”.

            My guest today is Mr. Paul English.  He and his large family live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. I’ll let him introduce himself and his family to you – including the children from hard places that he and his wife have adopted.  He’s lectured on this topic at Reformed Theological Seminary on its Charlotte, North Carolina campus.  He’ll be bringing some of that material to you on today’s program; but, more than that, he’ll help you see inside this description of the experience of adopting “children from hard places”:     

            Alongside unparalleled joys, adoption (of children from hard places) can bring deep struggles as well. Times of disappointment, sacrifice, and even sorrow may well be part of the journey. To nurture adopted children to their full potential and connect with them deeply requires not only love but also the knowledge and practical tools for loving well.

Paul English-  welcome to A Visit to the Pastor’s Study….

            Here’s a link to the full program:

Yours in our adopting God,

Pastor Bill