The Real Beauty Behind Thomas Rhett’s Adoption

Screenshot 2017-05-15 14.56.02The Real Beauty Behind Thomas Rhett’s Adoption

Country singer Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren recently experienced the day that every adoptive parent dreams of. Their baby girl was finally home. “Willa Gray” Akins has already received more attention on social media in the past three days than most people will in their entire life.  Her famous parents have attracted a huge following among young adults who are mesmerized by their love story and have followed closely the Akins’ journey to becoming parents.

But what is it about Thomas and Lauren that set them apart from every other famous couple? I would argue that it’s Jesus.

Lauren and Thomas are self-professed Christians who spend a good bit of time doing missions work overseas with an organization called 147 Million Orphans. It was through a trip with this missions group that they met their daughter in Uganda. After many months of trying to conceive naturally, Lauren began to feel God’s call to adopt Willa from Uganda. She and Thomas were obedient to the calling and began the process of international adoption.

To admire this couple because of their love story is selling them short. To admire them because of their faith in Jesus and obedience to his call, now that’s on the right track. The real beauty behind Thomas and Lauren’s adoption is their obedience to James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” Their example is one for believers everywhere to follow. Though we may not have musical talent or celebrity status, we are more than able to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.

Article by Haley Horn.

Photo from Thomas Rhett’s Twitter Account.

Give the Gift of Orphan Care

41IVAK906mL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The End of Orphan Care.

“The End of Orphan Care is written by a man who is involved in every area of orphan care to which he speaks in this book: in government, in the home, and in the church. . . . [H]is heart for this book is for the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, written with the prayer that pastors will read, be educated, and inspired to lead their flocks in the biblical mandate to care for the orphan.” -Todd Wilson, Pastor, Grace Covenant Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills, Alabama

“Through extensive Biblical study, a survey of the historical position of the Church, and an exploration of the potential methods that the Church can use today to care for the fatherless, Sam McLure has issued a clarion call to the Church.” – Georgette Forney, President, Anglicans for Life, Sewickley, Pennsylvania; Deacon, Chaplains Jurisdiction, Anglican Church in North America

“Sam McLure makes a scholarly case for Christians everywhere to follow the admonitions in James 1:27 to visit the orphans in their afflictions.  McLure paints a picture which expands the definition of “orphans” and the meaning of “visit” and calls on the Church to care for the unborn, the fatherless and the at risk youth everywhere.” -Samuel E. Upchurch, Jr., Founder and Chairman of the Board, Oakworth Capital Bank, Birmingham, Alabama

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Fatherlessness Pandemic and the Adoption Response

In my estimation, there are three necessary elements for a person to be motivated to care for the fatherless in a way that pleases God:

1.   the Word,
2.   the Need, and
3.   the Holy Spirit.

Quite simply, the Word is the Bible and must be a person’s highest authority.  The Bible tells us that God is the “Father of the fatherless” and compels us to be like him.

Being aware of the Need is also an essential element.  It is quite easy to never see the need.  It can be quite easy to wake up in safe homes, drive to work in stable cars, spend the day in cozy offices, drive home in stable cars, and spend the evening watching entertaining television.

Here we must remember that orphan care is warfare.  What we are talking about is human beings, created in the image of God – the most valuable resource … and worth fighting for.  But where is the fight?  Where are the fatherless?  Are they in my own city, or just in Africa and China?

In my short time peering into the affliction of the fatherless, I have come to the conclusion that fatherlessness is a pandemic.  For Christians, this is a serious indictment.  We are specifically charged with visiting the fatherless in their affliction (James 1:27).

Do you think I overstate the issue?  Here are four suggestions to get you started peering into the Fatherless Pandemic:

  1. New York Time’s article documenting that 51% of children born to some groups of women, 20 – 30 years of age, have no father figure.
  2. Jenny, Michael, and Ty at Alabama Heart Gallery – merely representative of the approximately, 5,700 children in Alabama foster care.
  3. Common Ground Montgomery newsletter from January 2012: relaying the shock of recent speaker who asked how many of the 40 students in the room lived with their father.
  4. 89% of the 10,280 children killed in abortion clinics in Alabama in 2010 had unmarried mothers.

The last, and most essential element is the Holy Spirit.  Hearing the Word and seeing the Need will have no affect on a heart unchanged by the Holy Spirit.  Only when we grasp the great mercy of God extended to us, can we move forward in obedience.  We deserve Hell for our sin, but what we get is forgiveness and adoption – and future glory.

Only when we daily grasp God’s mercy, through the work of the Holy Spirit, will we be ready to act on the Word to affect the Need.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with adoption?”

“Well,” I may reply, “this is where Christian adoption often starts.” Adoption is one beautiful method of visiting the fatherless in their affliction (James 1:27).  Adoption is not the right application for every child and every family.  Other wonderful means of visiting the orphan in their affliction could be foster care, Christian orphanages, and community outreach/mentoring programs.  Whatever the application, we must keep in mind that our ultimate objective is to offer the remedy to their ultimate affliction – separation from their heavenly father.

The other distinctly recognizable path that Christians often travel in getting to adoption is the desire for the kind of godly offspring that Malachi 2:15 talks about.  For more on this topic, visit the blog post, Getting to Christian Adoption.

Photo by Tableatny.

Adoption and Orphan Care

James 1:27 gives the Christian a call to visit the orphan in their affliction. The research of Showhope.org points out the stark reality that “[c]hildren are profoundly affected as their parents fall sick and die, setting them on a long trail of painful experiences often characterized by: economic hardship, lack of love, attention and affection, withdrawal from school, psychological distress, loss of inheritance, increased physical and sexual abuse and risk of HIV infection, malnutrition and illness, stigma, discrimination, exploitation, trafficking, and isolation.” (Citing, Global Partners Forum convened by UNICEF with support from UNAIDS. The Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS , July 2004, p 9. Global Strategic Framework: http://www.ovcsupport.net.)

Adoption is often not the appropriate method of visiting the orphan in their affliction.  The appropriate method of caring for the fatherless may be foster care, community mentoring, Christian orphanages, or simply basic medical and nutritional needs.

However, when adoption is possible, there’s something really special about it.  First, adoption gives a picture to the watching world of what God did for us in the Gospel.  Christ came to save sinners, and one prominent metaphor the New Testament gives to describe this salvation is adoption:  “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1)

Second, bringing previously orphaned children into our families through adoption helps fulfill one of God’s primary designs for marriage.  In Malachi 2, God rebukes husbands for not being faithful to their wives:  “[T]he LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” (emphasis added)  Truly, children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127) and the increase of godly offspring was one of God’s fundamental creation blessings: “Be fruitful and multiply.”  (Genesis 1)

Third, adoption offers an unparalleled opportunity for life-on-life discipling relationship.  The facilitation of life-on-life discipling relationships is a worthy organizing principle of orphan care.  James probably had a more earthy view in mind when he wrote is “pure-religion” equation.  Thus, we should be meeting felt needs.  However, the fundamental affliction of an orphan is the same as every person – separation from and enmity towards God.  The only remedy is the Gospel, passed on through relationships, like a virus.  Of the four methods for facilitating these relationships (community mentoring, orphanage, foster care, and adoption), adoption offers the greatest opportunity for intensity and longevity.  Parenting, whether beginning in biology or adoption, is a 24/7, life-long commitment.

Visiting the orphan in their affliction through meeting physical needs, community mentoring, orphanages, and foster care is good.  But, the reality is that these children often remain legal orphans.  Sometimes, this is the best that we can humanly do.  However, when the opportunity to care for a fatherless child presents itself in the form of adoption, Christian families should leap at the opportunity to do for someone else what God did for us through Christ – not leave us as orphans.  (John 14)

… until there are no more orphans.

Photo by Shootingsnow.

Understanding Adoption

What is Adoption?

Black’s Law Dictionary defines adoption as “[t]he creation of a parent-child relationship by judicial order between two parties who usu[ally] are unrelated.”

This may seem obvious to you, Reader.  However, what does the rest of the world think of when they hear the word “adoption?”  If you just Google the word “adoption,” you might be more likely to get results for “pet adoption” or “dog adoption,” than anything to do with the “creation of a parent-child relationship.”

Now, as Christians, we know there is another layer to adoption.  We know that God’s Plan A for rescuing the world from the reign of evil has a lot to do with adoption.  Paul writes in Ephesians 1 that we were “predestined for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”  John also describes our spiritual re-birth in terms of having “the right to become children of God.”  Even the Israelites obtained their favored position through what Paul describes as “adoption” in Romans 9.

What we have to conclude from this is that there is only one man who can claim a right to be in God’s family by “blood.”  That is God’s Son, Jesus.  The rest of us, all those who have obtained the heavenly inheritance, who have not been left “as orphans” (John 14:18) … the rest of us have gained our standing as sons of God through adoption.

So then, we have a horizontal and a vertical adoption.  It is from our vertical adoption into God’s family that we gain vision to bring former orphans into our families through horizontal adoption.

Photo by Melvin Schlubman.

Know More Orphans Intensive

The Know More Orphans Intensive will be held later this month, on Saturday February 28th, at the Grace Life Baptist Church in Bessemer, Alabama. Topics covered will include:

– Pre-Adoption: Beginning the Adoption Journey
– Special Needs Adoption
– The Changing Tide of International Adoption
– Adoptive and Foster Fathers: Are You Leading or Along for the Ride?
– Older Child Adoption – Do You Have What It Takes?
– Developing Ministries for Adoption, Foster Care, Orphan Care
– Attachment 101: How to Understand Kids From Hard Places
– Connecting While Correcting: The Art of Relationships
– Foster Care: An Overview
– Sibling Attachment in Foster Care and Adoption

The Know More Orphans website also says that: “This conference is intended for anyone who is interested in serving vulnerable and orphaned children. If you are a foster parent, adoptive parent, orphan advocate, social worker, community or church leader please make plans to join us.”

We will definitely be there – and we hope to see you there, too!

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Finding Mercy, Part 2

hosea143_revisedThe Prophet Hosea is telling the people of Isreal about the need for repentance and the promise of an all-loving and all-forgiving God. In 14:3 he says that the orphan finds mercy in God, and to no longer attribute the good work of God to ourselves because He is the true source of goodness, mercy, and compassion.

I think this also applies to human orphan care when we take care of orphaned children because God asks us to, and we share God’s mercy by doing that and then attributing that act of compassion to God—who deserves all the glory. 

“I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.” (14:4) This reminder of how deeply and truly God loves and forgives us can humble us and remind us of how important it is to extend that absolute, unreserved and fearless love to orphans.

The message about caring for orphans is so clear throughout the Bible. Not only does God specifically ask us to care for orphans in James 1:27, but we also see many examples that describes us, God’s children, using orphans as a metaphor. God knows us in all our sinfulness, and yet over and over again He has chosen to care for us. If we can see the whole world as a part of God’s family, then extending compassion towards orphaned children comes naturally as a way of showing an understanding of what God has done for us. 


 

caroline_bioCaroline Peoples recently moved to Prattville with her husband from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in Public Relations.

Caroline believes that adoption is an inspiring way of sharing Christ’s redemptive love. She hopes that, through her position as Community Relations Manager at The Adoption Law firm, she will be able to share the importance of this act of love and servitude, and to help bring others into and through the process of adoption.

Finding Mercy, Part 1

For the next few weeks, we would love to share some of our thoughts with you in the spirit of inspiring hearts to orphan care and adoption. Please know that we would be delighted to hear your comments too!

 

hosea143_revisedIn Hosea 14:3, Israel is repentant of their sins and crying out to the Lord for His help. Israel relied on their own strength and their own gods to help them, instead of relying on God’s promise of protection. The Lord was righteously angry, judged Israel for their sins, and separated Himself from them. This chapter is the cry of Israel begging God to return to them. God graciously hears their cry, and turns his anger from Israel.

 

Hosea 14:3 uses the phrase, “In You the orphan finds mercy”. In other translations, the term “fatherless” is uses instead of “orphan”. From the different commentaries that I have read, the term “fatherless” is used to describe the destitute state of Israel. They were helpless and in desperate need of a Savior, similar to the condition of an orphan.  Israel realized that they have sinned and tried to find help and strength through their own manpower. They realized that they are in a sense “fatherless” because they were severed from their True Father. They learned that they could not find mercy and forgiveness through themselves. Israel confessed that they can only find mercy in God who never fails to be our Helper in our time of need.

 

When Israel confessed their sins and surrendered their lives to God, God was quick to give them mercy. If you are a child of God and you are straying from Him, we can find rest and mercy in Christ our Savior alone. If we are truly fatherless and separated by God through our unconfessed sins, then again God is quick to provide His love and mercy to us; but only if we confess our sins and surrender our lives to Him and Him alone.

 

We learn from this phrase that God is our merciful Savior and He will come to our rescue when we seek Him and confess our sins. However, gathering from the text of the chapter, we also learn that God will punish us for our sins. Even though Christians strive to walk in the Word, we are sinful beings and our selfish wants and desires will guide our path. We need to rely on God’s strength and mercy, because ultimately He is in control. But as a Christian, it is so encouraging to know that I can always find mercy in my Savior. 

Rachel Hines srachelerves as the Office Manager/ Paralegal for The Adoption Law Firm. She is a native of Montgomery and studied Psychology at Liberty University. After several mission trips and her involvement with the foster care system, she developed a desire to counsel young boys and girls in need of families. She is passionate about demonstrating the love of Christ by finding orphans forever families through adoption and foster care. Through the legal field, she aspires to establish justice for children who are abandoned and in desperate need of permanent families.

Friend of Adoption – Altar84

altar-logo

We at The Adoption Law Firm continue to take the opportunity to further publicize organizations who are partnering in the care for the fatherless.  Today we would like to take a look at Altar84.

Altar84 is a Birmingham, AL based, non-profit organization founded on Christian principles.  According to their website, Altar84 serves in the following four areas.

  • Speak up for those without a voice and demonstrate the Gospel
  • Ongoing education and equipping for the Church and the family
  • Nourish both their physical and spiritual needs
  • Gather and provide resources to fight against the root causes of the orphan crisis

Altar84 is a great resource for churches looking to start an orphan care ministry.  They will partner with a local church to equip the church in the ministry of orphan care.  They will also provide resources needed to carry out this work.

Altar84 is another great organization who we at The Adoption Law Firm gladly consider a “friend of adoption”.

To further understanding the ministry of Altar84 and how they can be a help you your church, visit their website at www.altar84.org.