Monday, January 31, 2011

Whole Life Instead of Pro-Life?

On this final day of "Right to Life" month, this is a wonderful article that fuses the pro-life and adoption issues.

January 28, 2011
by Marc Andreas

More than 50 million abortions have occurred in the US since Roe vs. Wade was decided, 38 years ago, on January 22, 1973. Recent data show that while abortion rates in the US had declined in previous years, they leveled off in 2008 and remain at a horrific level of over 1 million annually. According to international estimates, as many as 50 million babies are aborted worldwide each year.

While the highly charged legalized abortion debate rages on, more and more Christians are taking compassionate action, following what Pastor Rick Warren has called being “Whole Life rather than Pro-Life.” This means caring for the entire life of a child from conception to the end of life rather than focusing only on the lives of unborn children. In a broken world that includes millions of unplanned pregnancies among single women each year, Christian families are called to care for these women and their unborn children.

Across the US, there are more than 2,500 pregnancy resource centers and adoption agencies that offer compassionate, confidential, free counseling and assistance for those facing unplanned pregnancies. These centers and agencies utilize tens of thousands of volunteers each year who counsel women and men struggling with what to do in one of life’s most challenging circumstances. These volunteers include doctors, lawyers, accountants, businessmen, pastor’s wives, and many more who offer their professional services and personal support. There are local boards in every community that need leaders, volunteers and donations to support this Whole Life care for women and children in need.

The Center for Public Justice Guideline on Human Life reflects this thinking when it states, “Opposing abortion and trying to outlaw it are not sufficient ways to achieve the goal of protecting the unborn and supporting life. Protecting life and the life-generating process from before pregnancy (healthy marriage) through birth and human maturation must be the underlying aim of public policies.”

Another important part of being Whole Life is caring for the more than 163 million orphans around the world. God designed children to be raised in loving families. While international adoption can be a wonderful solution for some children, like the two beautiful Haitian daughters in my own family, there are now a growing number of churches and Christian families in countries like China, Ethiopia, Romania and Haiti who are taking in orphans from within their own countries. Churches in the US can now partner with churches in the developing world to provide resources to enable children to be raised by Christian families in their own countries.

In the US, there are still over 114,000 children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted. In most states, these children can be adopted at no financial cost. These waiting children are in all 50 states with dozens or more of them likely in your local county. Recently, author and pastor David Platt, along with his church in Birmingham, Alabama, approached their local county Department of Human Services staff and found 140 children in foster care waiting to be adopted. Their large church was able to raise up 150 families along with the support of their church body to give each and every child a family! Rather than letting children in their own backyard grow up without a permanent mom and dad, this church lived out their Whole Life faith and will impact their community for generations to come.

While it is important to be politically active in the abortion debate, I encourage you to contact your local pregnancy resource center or adoption agency to see how you can be a part of being Whole Life instead of only Pro-Life.

—Marc Andreas is Vice-President of Marketing and Communications at Bethany Christian Services.

To respond to the author of this Commentary:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

DCFS Licensing Training Opportunity

Are you interested in investing in the life of a child by becoming licensed to be a DCFS foster parent?

The DCFS Pre-Service training program Foster/Adopt PRIDE will be offered at Alpine Chapel in Lake Zurich IL. The sessions will start on 3/10/11 and will run consecutive Thursday evenings from 6:30p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The 27 hours of training is based on a co-trainer model of a foster parent and agency social work staff member. If you are interested in registering for this class, you must have an agency refer you for the training.

Joyce Moffit, a member of our leadership team, licensing worker from the Evangelical Child and Family Agency and a DCFS master trainer, will be one of the trainers for this session. Foster families who have successfully completed this training program will be well prepared to meet the needs of the foster children in their care.

For more information, please call Joyce Moffit at ECFA at #630-653-6400, ext. #313. Further training opportunities can be viewed at the DCFS web site,

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Evangelical Child & Family Agency (ECFA) Fundraiser

Please join ECFA for their annual "Have a Heart for Life" Bowl Classic. Individuals, families, friends, small groups, etc., are forming teams of about 5 individuals (submitting a fun name for their team, too) and raising funds for the ministries of ECFA.

ECFA is a social service agency in Wheaton, IL, that specializes in Adoption, Pregnancy Support Services, Foster Care, Intact Family Services (Both DCFS programs) and Safe Families for DuPage County.

Saturday, February 12, 2011
11:15 AM to 2:00 PM CST

Fox Bowl
1101 E. Butterfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189

The fee for an individual is $15 plus a guarantee of an additional $35 dollars in pledges. Families pay a $45 fee, plus an additional guarantee of $105 dollars in pledges. Of course, you can raise as much over those suggested amounts as your imagination allows.

Schedule of Events:

Arrival time: 11:00am
Be sure and get your homebaked heart shaped cookie!

Pizza Lunch: 11:15am

Bowl: Noon

To register simply click here:

For questions or more information, contact Kyle Homburg at 630-653-6400 x 211 or or visit ECFA's web site at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Below is a very moving and compelling video that I strongly encourage you to watch. With tears in my eyes, I was reminded why we're doing what we're doing to raise the banner of caring for orphans through adoption, foster care and orphan care. We must not grow weary of doing good, for we will reap a harvest if we don't give up. (Before viewing the video, remember to mute the blog music at the bottom of the page.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Adoption Learning Partners offers Webinar

Adoption Learning Partners Presents...
Connecting Your Family Inside and Out:

Helpful advice on how to develop a stronger connection with your child.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 7:00-8:00PM Central Time
Question and Answer Session: 8:00-8:30 PM Central Time
Cost: $15

Secure parent-child attachments are essential to healthy child development, but often adoption can present challenges to the process. Join world renowned attachment expert Dr. Dan Hughes as he shares family centered strategies on how parents can connect to their child as a toddler, tween and teen. Dr. Hughes will be joined by Lynn Wetterberg, Executive Director of ATTACh. Lynn will discuss finding attachment related resources and provide information on finding adoption competent professional support.

*Advice on connecting with your child throughout their development
*Expert insights into attachment and attunement
*Information on finding professional support and resources
*Question and Answer session

Registrants will be contacted and asked to submit questions prior to the event. We will address as many questions as time will allow.


Dr. Dan Hughes, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of children who have experienced attachment disorganization, abuse, neglect and childhood trauma. Dr. Hughes developed Attachment-Focused Family Therapy (AFFT), a treatment model used frequently in attachment therapy. He is the author of Facilitating Developmental Attachment (1997), Building the Bonds of Attachment (2006) and Attachment-Focused Family Therapy (2007).

Lynn Wetterberg, M.S., C.P.A. is the Executive Director of the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children (ATTACh), a national organization of clinicians, advocates and parents of attachment disordered children.

To learn about other webinars in the series or to register

Questions? Please drop us a line:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Say Yes

Please mute the blog music before viewing the following video from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Vote for Royal Family Kids Camp

Hello to my Royal Family Kids' Camp extended family!

My name is Ashley Crompton and my parents and I (Terri and Terry Crompton) have taken over an RFKC here in Southern IL. To help fund our camp we have applied for a pepsi refresh grant and we are only 10 places away from making it into the top 10 and receiving a $25,000 grant that would fund our 1st year of camp. In order to get us into the top 10 we are in need of people to vote for us. Please help us by passing on our voting information to other RFKC family, friends, and supporters so that together we can pull this off and have a successful 1st year of camp.

You can vote 3 ways each day until January 31st

visit login in using your email and your facebook

text votes to phone number 73774 with message 104315

Please help us get the word out so that we can continue to reach out and create positive memories for our campers!

God Bless!

For His Kids,
Ashley Crompton
RFKC Director - Salem

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Global Prayer Gathering

The International Justice Mission (IJM) invites you to join them at their Global Prayer Gathering, April 8-10, 2011 in the Washington, D.C., area. During this weekend of prayer, they will praise our Maker for all that he has done in the places where IJM serves, and they will ask for his continued help in bringing rescue and restoration to those who are still being oppressed.

Throughout the weekend, IJM staff from around the world will share about ways they have seen God show up in their casework this year, as well as the urgent challenges in their field offices and cities. We will meet several survivors, will spend time praying together as a global body and will be led in musical worship.

They would be delighted if you would join with them in celebration of God’s faithfulness and in prayer for God’s continued provision. Your prayers are absolutely vital to this work of justice.

For more information, please visit Last year’s GPG registration reached capacity quickly; the event developed a long wait list and, unfortunately, we were not able to accommodate everyone on it. To ensure you are able to attend, please secure your spot today.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

10 Ways You and Your Church Can Be Involved in Adoption and Orphan Care in 2011

by David Wooten

“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

There are more than 163 million orphans in the world today. Even in the United States there are almost half a million orphans in the foster care system. Most of these have been abused, neglected or abandoned. These are the ones the Bible speaks of when it mentions the “fatherless.” The Scriptures are clear that the task of caring for these little ones belongs to His people. Christians can not only show the compassion of Christ in caring for orphans, but also display a picture of the gospel.

The question for any believer is not whether to be involved in the ministry of orphan care, but how. Below are ten suggestions to get you thinking about how you might participate in a ministry that can change the lives of children and families.

Pray for orphans and children in foster care who will go to bed tonight wondering if there is any place they belong. Ask God to meet their needs and provide a forever family for them. Pray for prospective adoptive families who are waiting for children and children who are waiting for families. Seek how the Lord would have you be involved in the work of orphan care. Pray that your church would effectively engage in the global orphan crisis. Thank God for the work of His Spirit in calling out His children to visit orphans in their distress.

There is much to learn about the needs, resources, and issues concerning adoption and orphan care. Study God’s Word to see what the Bible says about the fatherless. Learn about children in your local foster care system and what needs they have. Discover the plight of orphans in distant lands. Recognize your responsibility to care in practical ways for vulnerable orphaned children locally and globally.

God has opened His heart to the fatherless and wants us to open our hearts as well. Create a climate in your home among your family and cultivate a culture in your church that receives the little and the least. Give them a sense that they are welcomed, loved and that they belong.

The life of a foster or adoptive family can have its challenges. Show appreciation for what they are doing in providing a loving family to these children. Your encouraging words may be just the thing they need to persevere through a difficult time. You can support these families by providing respite care to give them a night out, some time away, help running errands, or bring over meals. Be creative and have fun finding ways to be a wrap-around family supporting them in caring for orphans.

The cost of private or international adoption and the price of ministering to the fatherless can be high. Your financial support can go a long way to help orphans as you give to ministries and organizations who serve the needs of these children. Many of these ministries depend on the faithful, sacrificial gifts of folks like you. Helping cover the high cost of adoption can help make adoption affordable and accessible for a family that otherwise might not be able to adopt.

6. GO
God commands us to “visit orphans in their affliction.” This word “visit” means “to show care and provision for.” You can do this by participating in a mission trip through your church to an orphanage showing compassion to these children and helping them to understand the special place they have in God’s heart. Become a regular visitor to a local orphanage or group home where children in foster care live.

Give your time to an organization or family who cares for orphans or is involved in adoption. You might mentor or tutor a young person in foster care. You might volunteer at an adoption agency by helping with a special event, assisting in their fundraising efforts or using your talents in a way that benefits their ministry. You might help one of the 20,000 teens aging out of the foster care system this year by including them into your family’s activities. Become a Guardian ad Litem for a child giving a voice to the neglected and abused.

While not everyone is called to foster or adopt, some are. Perhaps God is calling you to open your home to a child who needs a family. You may adopt from foster care or an orphan from overseas. Through adoption your family will display the gospel in a unique and dynamic way. Adopting a child from America’s foster care system carries little or no cost at all. Many would step up to adopt if they only knew that.

Launch a ministry in your church that will impact the global orphan crisis. With the permission and direction of your church’s leaders, you can be a catalyst that can meet the needs of children and families in your church, community and around the world. Your ministry might address foster care, adoption or orphans. Doubtless there are others in your congregation who will want to join you in reaching out through this ministry.

There are many ways in which the current foster care system needs to be revised to be more family friendly. You can be an advocate to speak out for the best interests of children who have been neglected, abused or abandoned. By learning what the current issues are, you will be better able to speak out on their behalf. Let your voice be heard when you can influence legislation or policy change that will benefit children and families and help improve the foster care system.

The Bible says that “true and undefiled religion in the eyes of God the Father is to care for orphans and widows in their distress” There is no clearer picture of the gospel that that of adoption. God took us when we were slaves to sin and brought us into His forever family to become His children. When you become involved in the ministry of adoption and orphan care, you are displaying the glorious gospel for the world to see. Regardless of how you are involved, by engaging in caring for orphans in their distress, you are practicing true and undefiled religion. Yours can be an investment that can impact many lives and will last a lifetime and beyond.

David Wooten is Director of Operations and Development at Embraced by Grace Inc. Adoption Agency

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Parent Forum at University of Chicago

Project HOPEFUL in partnership with University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital Adoption Clinic are pleased to offer their first Parent Forum of 2011. These parent forums have been hugely successful educational tools for parents and extended family members who desire to learn more about HIV/AIDS and adoptive parenting.

Come join us February 12th from 10am-noon at the University of Chicago where attendees will benefit from expert medical knowledge regarding the latest in HIV/AIDS treatment and care, along with the opportunity to have specific questions answered by University of Chicago medical staff. Project HOPEFUL will offer real-life practical insights into adopting and raising children who are positive. This parent forum is designed to offer prospective adoptive families a realistic understanding of the joys and challenges of parenting a child or children living with HIV/AIDS.

Topics University of Chicago Adoption Team will Discuss:

Medical, developmental, and psychosocial aspects of adoption
Thriving with HIV in 2011
Topics Project HOPEFUL will discuss:

Day-to-day experiences
Medications and medical visits
Educating family and friends
Preparing for adoption
The session will also feature open Q&A time allowing attendees to question the panel along with several experienced adoptive parents.

To register for the forum simply click HERE to use our Donate page. Fill out the form and add "Univ of Chi Forum" in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Please be sure to indicate the number of attendees in your party. Registration is only $10.00 per family.

PO Box 350
Plainfield, Illinois 60544

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vision Night

Don’t Miss ...
A Voice for His Children Vision Night: January 16, 2011

The most important meeting of the year!

Join us as we set the course for the next year of ministry. Help us move forward in our mission to create a culture of adoption and foster care, and build a community of foster, safe families, and adoptive families in our church―so that the fatherless are served and God is glorified.

Location: Willow Creek Community Church, room 100b (under the Chapel)
Time: 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Keynote Speaker, Dr. David Anderson, will challenge and inspire us with a message titled “Unleashing the Ministry of the Family”. The family is a powerful institution which God can use to influence His kingdom. Hear how God can use adoptive, foster care and Safe Families for His glory.

The evening will provide the opportunity to meet other families on various places on their journey in adoption, foster care and Safe Families. Attendees will be seated with other families involved in each of these areas, and our goal is to help you connect with others in your geographic location, so that pockets of community and support would be formed, and so families can share their experiences, hopes, and challenges along the way.

Support Team & Education and Awareness Team members are encouraged to come and meet the families that you will be supporting and find out more about serving opportunities.
All current Safe Families hosts will receive the all-new Willow Creek Safe Families Notebook. The binder includes resources and practical information to support you as you care for your Safe Families children.
All attendees will receive the 2011 calendar of events and speaker line-up for the new year. You will learn more about what our ministry and our church can do to support the cause of orphans and children in need.

A light dinner will be served. Child care is available if you r.s.v.p. with the number of children and their ages.
In you the orphan finds mercy. Hosea 14:3

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. Matthew 18:5

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pray For Haiti Webinar

The Christian Alliance for Orphans invites you to join them to.....


Wednesday, January 12, 2011 4:00pm EST

January 12th will mark one year since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Those few moments and their aftermath took hundreds of thousands of lives, left countless homeless, and affected countless children in profound and permanent ways, including leaving many as orphans.

Join us on January 12th, 2011 at 3:00pm Central Time as we come together as a community to pray for the country of Haiti, for stability and integrity in its government, for ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts, for the Haitian church, and for the children of Haiti we all care about so much.

Click here to register to participate in the the Pray for Haiti webinar.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Safe Families Mom's Coffee

Please Join Us...

Tuesday, January 11th 9:30-11:30

At Wendy Noonan’s Home
26584 Fairfield Road, Waconda (2 driveways north of Milton)

847-487-1354 if you get lost

This month we will discuss the vision of Safe Families as we move into 2011. How can we recruit new Safe Families, how can we utilize all who are interested in our ministry, and how can we support our current families.
Please RSVP to Sheila at

Remember our new monthly coffee schedule:
January, March, May, July, September, and November: second Tuesday
February, April, June, August, October, and December: second Wednesday

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Case For International Adoption

By: Jeneen Interlandi

Despite sensational headlines about Haitian orphans, children adopted from developing nations can thrive in the United States. I know, from personal experience.

Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile have left thousands of children orphaned and revived debates over the value of international adoption. In the weeks since a group of American missionaries were arrested on charges of child-trafficking, Haiti's orphans have continued to trickle across her borders. More than 300 Haitian children have been adopted by families in France, and the State Department estimates that nearly 2,000 will have been placed with U.S. families by month's end. Thanks to enhanced scrutiny by both Haitian and U.S. officials in the wake of the missionary debacle, it appears that the vast majority of those adoptions will be of legitimate orphans and not child-trafficking victims.

That won't silence critics, who argue that taking orphaned children from their birth countries and raising them elsewhere robs those nations of their most valuable resource and leaves the adoptees with a hopelessly fractured ethnic identity, only to satisfy the capricious whims of wealthy Westerners. (The contentious term cultural genocide is sometimes employed.) Opponents of international adoption routinely point to the abundance of orphans here in the U.S. where they claim it is both easier and cheaper to adopt. From there, they typically question the motives of "eager white Americans" who would endeavor "to adopt children that look nothing like them,"—as if every would-be parent who sought to adopt overseas were somehow trying to be Angelina Jolie. There are some persistent myths behind that argument that need dispelling. But first, a quick story:

My own parents suffered through a string of miscarriages and failed attempts to adopt in the U.S. before fetching my older sister, twin brother, and I from a dilapidated orphanage in Medellín, Colombia. It was the late 1970s, and we were infants—two of us premature and very sick. They nursed us back to health, brought us to a working-class suburb of New Jersey and promptly went about the business of raising us. Among the many things they took pains to instill (like work ethic, faith in God, and a healthy appreciation for good lasagna), a sense of Colombian-ness was not included. Nor was it to be acquired elsewhere: together my siblings and I made up about half the town's Colombian population.

But if we lacked a clear blueprint for our ethnic identities, we still had plenty of other parameters from which to forge our sense of selves: we were blue-collar kids from Jersey. We grew up amongst the mostly Irish- and Italian-American children of nurses, plumbers, and store clerks. Like them, we indulged in all the rituals of our particular American upbringing. And like most internationally adopted children, we turned out just fine.

To be sure, there are some significant and seemingly unclosable gaps in our cultural identities. I remember eagerly befriending two Colombian kids that moved to our town in junior high, only to find out that we had nothing special in common. "I'm Colombian too," I exclaimed to one of them, a girl the same age as me. She smiled and started speaking in Spanish. I furrowed my brow to show that I didn't understand. "Where are you from?" she asked in English. "Medellín," I said. "No," she said, laughing. "You definitely aren't."

In later years my twin brother (who is darker than my sister and I) would occasionally be subject to racial profiling. And, as we belatedly discovered, all three of us would have to go through the complicated and lengthy process of naturalization before we could obtain driver's licenses (or register to vote or apply for financial aid for college). We were immigrants and minorities—but only sometimes. The same was true of our Italian experience. I know more about Palermo and my father's upbringing in 1950s Bensonhurst than I ever will about Medellín, but I feel as dishonest calling myself Italian or Italian-American as I do calling myself Colombian. That's OK by me. My loss of ethnic heritage has been more than compensated for in the multitude of opportunities afforded by my adoption. Besides, I kind of like being a cultural chameleon (Colombian by birth, Sicilian by adoption, and American by upbringing). It makes me unique.

I won't pretend my experience is the same as it would be if I were black or Asian, or even a darker shade of Hispanic, and I'm not trying to say that race doesn't matter at all. But race and ethnicity shouldn't be the foremost concerns of adoptive parents, foreign governments, or society at large. The primary consideration should be the welfare of the children in question. Where will they have the best chance at happy, fulfilling lives? How best can the global community ensure their health and safety?

Within the U.S., the federal government has long since determined that while race and ethnicity merit consideration, they should not be the deciding factors in any adoption. That's because numerous studies show that transracial and transcultural adoptees don't face any higher risks of psychological problems or identity issues than domestic, same-ethnicity adoptees. As uncomfortable as it makes some people to acknowledge, white parents are capable of raising emotionally healthy black, Asian, and Hispanic children. And that's no less true when the child comes from another country.

Those who argue that prospective parents should "just adopt in the U.S." don't understand the motivations of most adoptive parents. If would-be adopters were acting out of some profound sense of charity, then reasonable people could debate the merits of alleviating greater suffering abroad vs. considerably less suffering closer to home. (In Colombia in 1977, children who weren't adopted by the age of 9 or 10 were turned out onto the street: girls mostly became prostitutes, boys joined the guerrilla armies or found work in the coca fields. By contrast, American orphans of the same generation were guaranteed food, shelter, and some form of education until they turned 18.)

But the fact is, most adoptive parents are like mine: they are unable to conceive but desperately want to experience parenthood—in all its permutations. That means they want babies. In the U.S., 60 percent of eligible orphans are more than 5 years old. Several critics have argued that the supply of Third-World infants is not a natural occurrence but a response to the demand of adoption markets in the West. This is only partly true: yes, Western demand motivates child-traffickers. But even after child trafficking is taken out of the equation, there are still many more infants to adopt abroad than there are in the U.S. (6.6 million compared with less than 60,000, based on an analysis of data from Unicef and the United States Department of Health and Human Services). International adoption is expensive (up to $40,000 in many cases) and takes a long time (one to three years on average)—long enough to consider all of the challenges and complexities that raising a child of different cultural or ethnic heritage will entail. It's not a process one enters into lightly.

In fact, most parents choose international adoption only after being repeatedly stymied by U.S. adoption protocols—from birth parents that change their minds at the last minute, to stringent and sometimes arbitrary requirements on the part of domestic adoption agencies. Speaking of which, it is patently false that the high-profile choices of a few celebrities have triggered an international adoption boom. In fact, in the U.S. especially, international adoption rates have plummeted—from about 25,000 in 2004 to less than 13,000 in 2009. Today, they are at an all time low, thanks to the greater availability of contraception, a global crackdown on child-trafficking, and better economic conditions in places like Russia and China, the birthplace of many internationally adopted orphans.

These days, internationally adoptive parents often go to great lengths to preserve their adoptive children's sense of cultural heritage—a big change since I was adopted from Colombia. According to one Harvard survey, 15 percent of transracially adoptive parents move to more ethnically diverse neighborhoods after adopting, to enhance their child's exposure to other people of the same ethnicity. Many parents take corresponding language and cooking lessons and many more immerse themselves in the diaspora communities of their children's birth countries. Some also participate, with their children, in "homeland tours" offered by international adoption agencies.

At the same time, adult adoptees from Korea, China, and elsewhere have formed national organizations to facilitate homeland visits and lobby for dual citizenship, among other things. There is no reason to think that Haitian orphans won't do the same. To be sure, they will face barriers to forging coherent racial and ethnic identities—almost all internationally and interracially adopted children do. But those barriers won't be insurmountable and they won't necessarily be devastating. In the end, what matters most is not where a child is from, but whether or not that child is well loved and well cared for by a responsible family—regardless of race or nationality.

Jeneen Interlandi ’06J, ’06 GSAS holds dual master’s degrees in earth and environmental science and journalism. She has written for Scientific American and The New York Times Magazine and is completing a fellowship at The Village Voice.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Is the Orphan My Neighbor?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
Posted originally at Q Ideas.

By Russell Moore: Dr. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of "The Kingdom of Christ" and "Adopted for Life".

I will never forget seeing her pull the measuring tape out of her purse as she talked about the skull of her child.

The woman, standing in an airport in Russia with my wife and me, was, like us, an American. She, like us, was in the former Soviet Union to pursue adoption. But she was worried. She had heard “horror stories” about fetal alcohol syndrome and various other nightmares. She said that the measuring tape was for gauging the size of the craniums of her potential children, to “make sure there’s nothing wrong with them.”

The reason I think about this conversation so much these days is because I am finding—more and more often—that one of the primary obstacles for Christians in advocating for the fatherless can be summed up right there in that measuring tape: the issue of fear. As much as we might not want to admit it, many of us don’t think much about orphans because, frankly, we’re scared of them.

Orphans are unpredictable. Often we don’t know where they’ve come from, what kind of genetic maladies and urges lie dormant somewhere in those genes. Moreover, in virtually every situation of fatherlessness, there is some kind of tragedy: a divorce, a suicide, a rape, a drug overdose, a disease, a drought, a civil war, and on and on. We’d rather not think about such things, and we’re afraid often of what kind of lasting mark they leave on their victims.

Those of us who know Christ ought to recognize that fear is often a deterrent to justice, a deterrent that has been indicted, crucified, and buried in the triumph of Jesus. In Jesus’ story of the so-called “good Samaritan,” after all, Jesus presents us with a man who “fell among robbers” and was beaten, nearly to death (Lk. 10:30). With little commentary on why, Jesus tells us, simply, that two passers-by, both religious officials, moved on to the other side, to avoid the wounded man (Lk. 10:31-32).

While many have speculated that there might have been theological reasons behind their neglect (the fear of becoming ceremonially unclean from touching a corpse), the most compelling reason I’ve ever heard was from Martin Luther King, Jr., who wondered whether the passers-by were simply afraid.

After all, there were no streetlights on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho—the setting of this story. There was no police force. A man beaten by terrorists is a good signal that the evildoers are still about, perhaps hiding in the caves along the roadside, lying in wait for their next victim. Moving on along, quickly and quietly, probably just seemed like prudence.

But Jesus never was one for justification by prudence alone. He praised a Samaritan—a reviled outcast from the official religious structures—for the compassion he demonstrated toward this man. And the compassion Jesus commended—and commanded from us in imitation—wasn’t mere charity. The Samaritan didn’t simply help the beaten man; he gave him his own animal, set him up in an inn, and paid for all his expenses for his ongoing care (Lk. 10:34-35). Any Israelite hearing this account would have seen immediately what was going on. The Samaritan was treating the beaten man like family.

Right now, there is a crisis of fatherlessness all around the world. Chances are, in your community, the foster care system is bulging with children, moving from home to home to home, with no rootedness or permanence in sight. Right now, as you read this, children are “aging out” of orphanages around the world. Many of them will spiral downward into the hopelessness of drug addiction, prostitution, or suicide. Children in the Third World are languishing in group-homes, because both parents have died from disease or have been slaughtered in war. The curse is afoot, and it leaves orphans in its wake.

Not every Christian is called to adopt or to foster children. And not every family is equipped to serve every possible scenario of special needs that come along with particular children. Orphan care isn’t easy. Families who care for the least of these must count the cost, and be willing to offer up whatever sacrifice is needed to carry through with their commitments to the children who enter into their lives.

But, while not all of us are called to adopt, the Christian Scriptures tell us that all of us are called to care “widows and orphans in their distress” (Jas. 1:27). All of us are to be conformed to the mission of our Father God, a mission that includes justice for the fatherless (Exod. 22:22; Deut. 10:18; Ps. 10:18; Prov. 23:10-11; Isa. 1:17; Jer. 7:6; Zech. 7:10). As we are conformed to the image of Christ, we share with him his welcoming of the oppressed, the abandoned, the marginalized; we recognize his face in the “least of these,” his little brother and sisters (Matt. 25:40).

The followers of Jesus should fill in the gap left by a contemporary Western consumer culture that extends even to the conception and adoption of children. Who better than those who have been welcomed by Christ to care for the most feared and least sought after of the world’s orphans? After all, who are we, as those who are the invited to Jesus’ wedding feast? We are “the poor and the crippled and the blind and the lame” (Lk. 14:21). Since that is the case, Jesus tells us, we are to model the same kind of risk-taking, unconditional love (Lk. 14:12), the kind that casts out fear.

Yes, orphan care can be risky. Justice for the fatherless will sap far more from us than just the time it takes to advocate. These kids need to be reared, to be taught, to be hugged, to be heard. Children who have been traumatized often need more than we ever expect to give. It is easier to ignore those cries. But love of any kind is risky.

The Gospel means it’s worth it to love, even to the point of shedding your own blood. After all, that’s what made a family for ex-orphans like us.