C H U R C H R E F O R M S E R I E S
By Biblicism Institute
Adoption and Surrogacy in the bible are very scarce, so scarce in fact that there are no stipulated laws about them. They’re always choices made by biblical figures who were either desperate or had to help those in despair.
And desperation is not a way of life God wants us to rely on because it is the loss of hope, a debilitating state whereby we take our eyes off God Himself, the God of hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
Adoption is a noble and sacrificial deed that many people choose to make. However, it has become so prevalent in this modern world that we feel obligated to broach the subject.
Though there are instances where adoption is a necessity or even a selfless act by those who undertake it, it is however something we must work hard to relegate to the smallest and infinitesimal quotient, as opposed to the brisk business it has become today, especially given the way many adoptions are currently being processed.
In a perfect world, every child would be brought up by their real parents. In fact, it is the way that God Himself intended it from the very beginning.
“For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice…” Genesis 18:9
However, there are harsh circumstances that push people to either adopt or give up their children. And by harsh we mean harsh.
Let’s check these biblical circumstances.
Moses had to be given up, otherwise he would have been slaughtered. Yet, her mother, under a false identity, was the one who ended up taking care of him anyway. Therefore family was involved in his upbringing. But when Moses realized he was adopted by the Egyptians, it did not turn out good for them.
Esther is the only other biblical figure who was adopted, but she was not a baby when Mordecai took her in, and he only did so because her parents had died. Thus, Mordecai, a cousin, a family member, was the one who took care of her. Still, she never called him “daddy,” even though she afforded him the respect due a parent.
“He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” Esther 2:7
Consequently, the bible shows us only one reason why “breathing” parents should permanently give up their children for others to care for – if they’re about to be slaughtered.
And the only example the bible gives us as a reason for anyone to adopt a child as one’s own is if that child is family and his parents have passed away (i.e., the child is an orphan). Accordingly, that child knows that those who adopt him are not his “parents,” though he still gives them the same respect as if they were. In other words, the adopted child knows the truth from the get go.
Adopting an orphan is the biblical duty of the extended family.
“But if someone doesn’t provide for their own family, and especially for a member of their household, they have denied the faith. They are worse than those who have no faith.” 1 Timothy 5:8
That is why Christian families are commanded to take care of orphans.
However, if these children have no extended families, then an orphanage ministry can be set up, with a system of checks and balances to prevent depravation and abuse, and with the following goals: to provide food, shelter, clothing, education, mentoring, health care, and spiritual guidance.
Christian families are biblically commanded to visit these orphans and help them financially and relationally in their upbringing.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
The Greek word for visit is EPISKEPTOMAI which means to inspect, to go to see, to relieve, to visit. Thus to visit an orphan is to care for them, to protect them by making sure no harm is done to them, to relieve or soothe their needs, and to surround them with new “extended” families with each visit.
If certain families wish to bring in some of these children in their homes to be cared for, it’d be up to those at the orphanage ministry who are caring for them to prayerfully and carefully consider such requests.
Though there are no biblical directives that allow or disallow such a move, the bible in its totality, however, favors the adoption of an orphan by members of the orphan’s extended family or household. Releasing children to the care of total strangers is always a risky proposition, as there are many unscrupulous people and even weirdos out there.
Even Abram/Abraham, when he was childless, was rebuked by God as he was thinking of leaving his inheritance to one who was not of his blood.
“But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a servant in my household will be my heir.’ And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.’ ” Genesis 15: 2-4
People must understand that even if they get to adopt orphaned children, they are not and can never become their “real” parents. Many push these kids to call them “mommy” and “daddy,” which is basically a lie.
In these situations, the worst cases are the children adopted as babies. When they grow up and discover that those they’ve been calling “mommy” and “daddy” their whole lives are not their “real” parents, the majority of them usually become emotionally unstable and launch a search for their biological parents. Such a reaction is quite natural and to be expected; it is one that God intentionally designed in order to draw our attention to the importance He places on blood family.
Even Jesus, as a boy, knew who His real Father was. See how He indirectly rebuked His mother:
“His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.’ And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’ ” Luke 2:48-49
However, many Christians use the following verse as if God had it carved for adoption purposes:
“To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:5
These Christians have a bad habit of taking something God says in one circumstance and arbitrarily applying it to another (like old testament tithing vs church tithing or Ancient Israel vs the modern state of Israel). It’s exactly like comparing apples with oranges.
Just because God adopts all of us Christians into His family is not a general command for Christians to go out there and start adopting left and right. The circumstances that made God “adopt” us are different.
From the very beginning God created all of us to be His own children; but then we rebelled, and sin separated us from Him as we became by our actions subservient children of the Devil.
“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Isaiah 59:2
So God had to “adopt” us back into the fold through the sacrifice of His son Jesus the Christ.
“To all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” John 1:12
The word adopt comes from two Latin words: ad (towards) and optare (to choose). Therefore God moved TOWARDS CHOOSING to take us back as His own. The Greek word in the bible for adoption is itself HUITHESIS, which means the placing as sons.
As sinners we were misplaced and under the sway of the evil one, but with Christ we have been established once and for all as the Sons of God we were created and predestined to be from the very beginning.
“He predestined us to be placed as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…” Ephesians 1:5
Further, the way many organizations (some Christian ones included) are pushing the adoption process entices many feeble and financially-challenged parents-to-be to give up their babies (who are not orphans), so they can be adopted by well-to-do folks.
When one adopts a non-orphan child, one forever takes that child away from those who were destined to be his parents.
The mission of these organizations should not be to pull families apart, but to keep them together. That’s why their goals should be:
1) help orphans find their extended families, and care for those with none;
2) support parents and parents-to-be who can’t financially take care of their children.
Unfortunately, many of these organizations or agencies have actually constructed themselves as businesses disguised as non-profits, whose fuel is the wholesale adoption by strangers of newly born babies and toddlers.
An average adoption costs anywhere between $5,000.00 when one does it personally and up to $40,000.00 when an agency is hired. Ergo, most of these agencies are nothing but businesses.
Usually the reason people lean towards letting go of their babies – the preferred option of adoptive parents – is because of dire financial circumstances. So why not use these moneys and help these folks become parents to their offspring as God intended?
More often than not these organizations end up facilitating (willfully or not) the giving up of these young creatures to be adopted by total inconnus. To put it bluntly, they are actually ripping these children from their God-assigned parents.
Instead, if financial help were provided to these individuals, God’s command to care for the poor would be fulfilled, and their despair would instantly be replaced with hope as they would get to keep their children. That way the God of hope would shine through.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
To facilitate children to stay with their biological parents or family is the better course of action and the more natural one. However, by making it easy for people to give up their babies, mothers (and fathers) are thus “encouraged” to let go of their own flesh and blood.
“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:7
Again, there are circumstances which call for adoption, and if they are not within the bible’s parameters, we can always rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance to help with such an important decision, while keeping in mind the understanding that the word of God provides.
The first surrogate mother in the bible is Hagar. She was the maidservant of Abraham’s wife, Sarah.
When Sarah realized she couldn’t get pregnant she panicked and sent her husband to sleep with Hagar who got pregnant and gave birth to Ishmael. But when Sarah herself got pregnant, she regretted that fateful decision and forced Abraham to send Hagar and her child away.
The other two famous surrogate mothers of the bible are Bilhah and Zilpah, maidservants of Jacob’s wives Rachel and Leah.
When Rachel couldn’t bear children, out of frustration she sent Jacob to sleep with her maidservant Bilhah. To compete with her sister Rachel, Leah, Jacob’s first wife, also sent her maidservant Zilpah to sleep with her husband. The four women ended up giving Jacob twelve sons who later became the twelve tribes of Ancient Israel. See Can a man have many wives?
These surrogate mothers – especially the last two – were used by healthy women who were impatient and could not wait on God. Their frustration proved futile since later on they ended up getting pregnant.
Surrogacy, the old fashioned way, may be a viable option for women who can never have children (i.e., women whose biological clocks have run out, or are plagued with birth defects, or are sterile for various medical reasons, etc.).
However, the drawbacks in today’s western society can be numerous, especially for the surrogate mother – not to mention the remote possibility of it ever happening. Still, it could happen, and unless the arrangement is legally binding, it may create some nasty surprises.
In other words, it may engender conflicts that not only affect the children themselves, but those who are involved as well. Its negative effects, if materialized, could actually be more widespread than those of adoption since the different mothers may end up hating each other; the strife would then extend to the fathers and the children they fathered, along with their birth mothers.
That is why surrogacy, western style, has become not just a legally-binding and contractual affair, but also a clinical and medical experience that may wind up costing up to $150,000.
Men deposit their sperms which are used to fertilize surrogate mothers’ eggs. These eggs are then implanted inside the wives or inside the surrogate mothers themselves, following legal paperwork.
In the same manner, many single women, and even some married ones with supposedly impotent husbands, also use sperm banks to buy anonymous donors’ sperms in order to fertilize their own eggs.
Such procedures are so impersonal and so detached from basic human behavior and emotions that they usually leave the participants feeling probed, hopeless, and impotent; worse, it leaves the spawned children, who later discover the truth, desperately searching for nondescript fathers or mothers they may never locate.
The psychological, emotional, and spiritual impacts of such procedures leave behind a trail of wounded and lost souls frantically searching for their origins.
Adoption and Surrogacy are not solutions the bible dwells on because they are not God’s perfect problem-solving methods, though in the very rare occasions they may be, especially when it comes to biblical adoption as previously described.
In general, God’s perfect solution for couples facing either dilemma is faith. God wants us to believe that He is the God of hope who can make the impossible happen, and that is usually why He allows these problems to surface in the first place.
“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Psalm 77:14
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
He wants us to rely on Him, within the confines of His established and created physiological rules. For example, a ninety-year old woman cannot expect to ever get pregnant, even though Sarah was around the same age when she got pregnant for Abraham.
There is a difference.
God personally appeared to Abraham and told him that one day Sarah would get pregnant. Now if your wife is 90 years old and you want her or she wants to get pregnant, God had better show up at your doorstep – personally and “physically” – to tell you it will happen, otherwise your faith will be in vain. But if your wife is a healthy thirty-year old who can’t get pregnant, then you’d both better get on your knees and pray and have faith.
Still, the bible does provide solutions for single women who are having difficulty getting married and would like to have children, and for men who want children their wives are neither willing to breed nor capable of giving them. Click here to read it.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8