In his book, The End of Orphan Care, Samuel J. McLure attempts to define the scope of orphan care, persuade the reader why caring for orphans is a good and Biblical thing to do, and present practical applications of Biblical orphan care. McLure begins his book by defining an orphan as “a child left without adequate familial provision”. Through a deeper and more extensive theological study of the concept of orphan care, it is revealed that for all intents and purposes the word “orphan” may very well be defined as a synonymy for the word “fatherless”. Christians are specifically instructed to care for the fatherless numerous times throughout the entirety of the Bible. As children of God, Christians are also instructed to emulate God in an attempt to advance His kingdom. The God we serve becomes a father to the fatherless- He protects, provides, and cherishes His children. All of these roles should also be filled by earthly fathers.
How then should we approach the idea of single-mother adoptions? Should children who are adopted by single women still be classified as orphans? The ultimate goal of orphan care, as defined by McLure, is to bring orphans into the Kingdom of Light. Another pertinent goal of caring for the fatherless is to provide for their temporal, earthly, and immediate needs such as food, clothing and shelter. A woman raising a once parentless child has the capacity to not only provide for all of these needs, but also offer a safe and encouraging home. Single-mother adoptions are filled with dignity and goodness.
Proverbs 31 is often viewed in the contemporary church as an outline of what a godly woman of noble character should look like. Proverbs 31:20 says that such a woman “opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy”. This is precisely what a humble and pure pursuit of orphan care looks like. As children of God there is a certain joy and comfort in doing what we were created to do. Adoption is an arduous and demanding process. When a person engages in adoption they are devoting themselves financially, emotionally and spiritually to a time-consuming and uncertain process. Proverb 31 also states that a woman of the Lord “dresses herself with strength”, and that due to her strength and dignity she can “laugh at the time to come”. The strength it must take for a woman to enter into the process of adoption without a husband is almost unimaginable. Greater recognition is warranted of the wisdom and obedience possessed by a daughter of Christ who is so confident in her place in the Kingdom as to take on an adoption as a single woman.
Having established that single-mother adoptions are good and virtuous, how should women walking down this path begin to prepare their hearts to parent their children in light of these realities? One of the most practical things to do is to engage deeply with the local church. If there is no immediate father in the picture then finding a man of the Lord to step into a father-figure role is very important for the development and well-being of the child. The church is intended to be a beautiful well of community and support. However, our society has fallen into the pattern of too often adopting a passive attitude. It is up to the individual to make a conscious effort to engage with those around them, and this is specifically true in a church setting. The Lord works in amazing and mysterious ways. Just as a single woman may feel a call towards adoption, it could very well be the case that there is someone within her local church that feels the call towards fulfilling a fatherly, mentor role in a child’s life. It is possible that this connection could never be made if it were not for individual engagement and vulnerability within the church community.
One of our clients at The Adoption Law Firm, a single adoptive mother, has seen how the support of her church community has blessed her children – “As a single adoptive mother I’ve made sure that I’ve surrounded my boys with Godly men who can help raise these boys and pour into them things that they need from a father. I’ve watched men of the church step up to this role and it has been a wonderful thing to watch. My boys will tell you they have lots of father figures and each of them play an important role in the lives.”
I must confess, not being a parent myself my knowledge of parenthood is limited. However, I do know that our security and confidence as believers stems from a heart rooted in Biblical truth. Jesus assures us in John 14 that the Holy Spirit will dwell in the hearts of His children. Romans 8 promises that this same Spirit will intercede for us, and help us in our weaknesses. Elisabeth Elliot writes, “the fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman”. With the hope found in Biblical promises and a heart posture similar to that of Elliot’s, I would venture to say that the best way for a single mother to parent her adopted child is to walk daily in prayer, and cling unwaveringly to the Holy Spirit that undoubtedly led her towards adoption in the first place.
Rachel Dees is from Hoover, Alabama and is currently a senior at Auburn University. She is majoring in Global Studies with minors in Political Science, Philosophy, and Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. Rachel has a passion for helping people that stems from devotion to the Lord. She hopes to attend law school in order to further the Kingdom through the practice of law.