“A broken hallelujah.” These words have been used over the years to speak of both the pain and joy wrapped up in the reality of adoption. We especially get to see this played out in the world of foster care.
Current statistics show that approximately 24% of children who enter foster care will end up being adopted. The broken and the hallelujah are clear. A child has already lost their family if they are needing an adoptive one. It means their parents could not take the steps to be a healthy, safe place to return. It also means all other family members have been exhausted as possible places for them to return. This is one of the most devastating losses a person can endure whether at birth or at age 16. If we jumped right to the hallelujah, we would miss the depth of this and therefore not care for children in light of this loss. Let us count it worthwhile to lament with children (and adults) who lost their family of origin in this way.
But the story doesn’t end there. Each child in this position has the opportunity to find a new forever family through adoption. What an opportunity for God’s people to be those families when needed! In adoption, where a child could be orphaned, they are not. Where brokenness looks as though it might win, God intervenes and brings restoration to a child’s story and trajectory. We rejoice that “He places the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68) Though the need for adoption is born out of a loss, it does not stop there. God builds families in the most unexpected and redemptive ways. Adoption echoes God’s heart, as he has made us his own sons and daughters. Every time we witness an adoption, let it remind us that God is committed to bringing restoration, both in the now and eternally. Even though we pursue family reunification, it does not minimize our celebration of adoption. We fight to hold in tension these different outcomes in foster care and we can celebrate both, knowing that every situation is completely different. God is bringing restoration to children and families through adoption and we get to be a part of those stories.