Monday, October 25, 2010

Covenant Adoption vs. Legal Adopion

What is adoption? This is a compilation put together from two definitions; adoption is a legal action that voluntarily brings a child into one’s family. (1) Adoption as we know it is a legal arrangement. It is usually administered by the courts usually with direction from various government bureaucrats. When looked at like this adoption is a rather sterile subject.

Unfortunately, too many people treat adoption as nothing more than a legal action. Some people when the going gets tough, they just go. In one notorious case an adoptive mother in Tennessee placed her son, Artyom, on a plane to Moscow and abandoned him to the Russian government. (2) Many other adoptive children have been abused, abandoned, and even murdered by the hands of their new adoptive parents. (3)

One of the deeper issues that adopted children struggle with is permanence. "Will I be sent back?" Vitali, our youngest son, early on would often ask when we were going to the “Detsky Dom,” the Russian word for orphanage. I finally got the Russian translation of "You are never, never, never going back to the orphanage. Mama and Papa are your parents and they love you and you are going to live with them forever." Vitali just smiled the biggest ear to ear grin when he heard this.

I can't help but think of the passage from Psalm 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west He has removed our transgressions from us." For the Christian it is only through the death of Christ that we never, never, never have to face the consequences of our sin.

In Jeremiah 31:31-34 we are given the New Covenant:

"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.(NIV)

The good news of this New Covenant is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God of very God, became flesh, lived a perfect life, died on a cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, rose from the dead on the third day, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father so that we may have eternal life by placing our faith in the Messiah. The Christian was totally lost in his sin prior to reconciliation with the Father. In Romans 8 we read that is only through spiritual adoption that we are joint heirs with the Christ.

So what is the New Covenant? For starters it is an agreement; a non-revocable agreement between God and man. What makes this covenant better than prior covenants God gave man is that it changes our nature. God actually writes His law on the believer’s heart. The New Covenant provides for forgiveness of sin and eternal life with God the Father. The New Covenant is eternal adoption.

There are approximately 150,000,000 orphaned children worldwide. (4) There is a growing adoption movement in the Christian church to minister to these children by following the biblical mandate to care for the orphan. Recently the Wall Street Journal (5) and CBS News (6) have even taken note of this phenomenon. The world is watching us. As we bring these children into our families I would like to see the church take a new view of adoption based on a covenant.

When we bring these children into our homes at this point it is by a legal arrangement. In light of this understanding of the New Covenant I would like to propose Christians approach the earthly adoption of children in a new manner. Let us as we bring these children into our homes offer them a covenant of adoption. I would like to see the creation of a ceremony based on a binding pledge before God to the adopted child. I imagine most families already have acknowledged this in their hearts but I would like to see it formalized. We need to show our children and the world that this is REAL and we are serious and fully committed to caring for the orphan.

I would love your feedback. Here is a verbal pledge I have put together:

I __________, an adoptive son/ daughter of God the Father through the New Covenant, love you ___________ and in obedience to the command of God to care for the orphans through the power of the Holy Spirit, I adopt you as my son/ daughter. I pledge to raise you in a home based on Christian values and train you in the ways of God. I will provide for your material needs. When you cry I will be there to hold you. When you fall I will pick you up. I am your father/mother and there is nothing you must offer me. I love you unconditionally and nothing you say or do will stop that love. I understand that you will struggle with issues from your past and I will help you overcome these through the grace of God. I promise to listen and answer your questions with honesty and integrity. Your name is_____________ you are my son/daughter. I pray that you will accept my love and become a man/ woman of God. I covenant today to do all this before God and men in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

An additional benefit is there are times when legal adoption is not possible but covenant adoption is always possible. Any input?


(1) The Free Dictionary by Farlex and Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

(2) Tennessee Adoption Angers Russia After Woman Sends Boy 7, Home, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Kristin M. Hall,

(3) Adoption Season For Evangelicals, Wall Street Journal, Naomi S. Riley,

(4) 150,000,000 estimated orphans based on 143,000,000 orphans in the developing world according to UNICEF’s 20004 report Children on the Brink plus estimates of children in North America and Europe.

(5) Forever Family Forever Dead

Evangelicals Start Adoption Push, CBS News, Joel Roberts,


Marti Times said...

What a wonderful idea! Now I have to wondery why I didn't think of it and more importantly, why this isn't already common practice? God willing, we are travelling to Ukraine the first week of December to adopt our little girls.

Unknown said...


Once we become members of Christ’s family, he does not let us go hungry, but feeds us with his own body and blood through the Eucharist.

In the Old Testament, as they prepared for their journey in the wilderness, God commanded his people to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle its blood on their doorposts, so the Angel of Death would pass by their homes. Then they ate the lamb to seal their covenant with God.

This lamb prefigured Jesus. He is the real "Lamb of God," who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Through Jesus we enter into a New Covenant with God (Luke 22:20), who protects us from eternal death. God’s Old Testament people ate the Passover lamb.

Now we must eat the Lamb that is the Eucharist. Jesus said, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you" (John 6:53).

At the Last Supper he took bread and wine and said, "Take and eat. This is my body . . . This is my blood which will be shed for you" (Mark 14:22–24).

In this way Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacrificial meal Catholics consume at each Mass.

The Catholic Church teaches that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross occurred "once for all"; it cannot be repeated (Hebrews 9:28).

Christ does not "die again" during Mass, but the very same sacrifice that occurred on Calvary is made present on the altar.

That’s why the Mass is not "another" sacrifice, but a participation in the same, once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

Paul reminds us that the bread and the wine really become, by a miracle of God’s grace, the actual body and blood of Jesus: "Anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Corinthians 11:27–29).

After the consecration of the bread and wine, no bread or wine remains on the altar. Only Jesus himself, under the appearance of bread and wine, remains.

Christie M said...

Steve, I think our kids need to hear this over and over and over. :)

They need to know that we love them no matter what.....

Do you think doing a ceremony like this, would help struggling parents?

I ask because of so many who DO struggle with the real concept of what they have covenanted to do legally.
To see it in writing, put into words, is fantastic. :)

Christie M said...

btw- I just linked your adoption video to my blog for adoption Sunday. :)

Cindie said...

I love the covenant adoption idea. When we returned to the US with our daughters we also felt it was important to have "more" than a legal adoption. So we went before our church and had a dedication ceremony with the girls. We wanted them to know, as you have pointed out, that we promised the government to be there parents but what we promised God was really what mattered. Especially now when everything made under the legal system seems to be able to be broken, look at the divorce rate alone, we wanted our girls that this was more than that to us. We didn't your words exactly but the intent was the same. We gave them written copies of our words, signed by us. We also had a full church to witness our promise to them and to God. It was very powerful for all of us. Thank you for writing about Covenant Adoption so beautifully. God is using you in mighty ways.

The Runyans said...

where are you at in east tennessee? we are in new market!

currently in process of adopting 2 from uganda

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gream said...

where are you at in east tennessee? we are in new market!

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