On Transracial Adoption
Following up on my post about the Justice of the Peace who refused a marriage license to an interracial couple due to the harm he thinks it would bring to their children, I thought the following–from an article I wrote for Modern Reformation–might be relevant to the discussion:
We don’t regard our transracial adoption as something especially noble or sacrificial, or anything like a social statement. This is simply the way that God in his providence has designed our family to expand, and we sense his great grace in the way he has knit our family together.
But some people still wonder if transracial adoption is all that wise. What if they are called names in school? What if their friends tell our children that my wife and I are not his “real” mommy and daddy? What if our kids have an identity crisis, unable to figure out who they really are?
All of these things may indeed happen with our children. But the truth is, all of our children are going to face various forms of challenges, and we simply cannot predict with any degree of certainty what particular obstacles they will deal with. Nor can we prevent all of them.
Will our kids be eloquent and persuasive, or stammer with stage fright? Will they be the star athletes, or the class klutzes? Will they be leaders or followers? Trendsetters or always one step behind? Will they be healthy or sickly? Will they be mocked for following Christ and swimming against the culture stream? We simply don’t know, and there usually does not seem to be much purpose in planning our lives around the minimization of challenges we cannot control.
It’s important to recognize that in the midst of talking about spiritual adoption, Paul listed a requirement of kingdom citizens who are to be heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—we will receive an inheritance “provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17). To be a Christian is a call to suffer: “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). If we’re surprised at suffering then it’s because we haven’t read our Bibles closely enough: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Pet. 4:12). If a disciple wants to be like his teacher, and a servant like his master, then we are going to be maligned like Jesus was (see Matt. 10:25).
Now with all of this said, no one wants to create situations of undue suffering for their children. There are times when transracial adoption may be unwise. For example, we have American friends who are in the adoption process and who will be serving in cross-cultural missions in the Middle East. Being an African American child in a white family in an Islamic country that already stigmatizes adoption would be exceedingly difficult.
As long as sin remains—this side of the return of Christ and the ushering in of the news heavens and the new earth—racism will remain. There is virtue neither in overstating or unstating this reality. But the idea of having qualms about transracial adoption (or interracial marriage) because it will create opportunities for more racial prejudice doesn’t ultimately make a lot of sense. As John Piper has commented, “It’s like the army being defeated because there aren’t enough troops, and the troops won’t sign up because the army’s being defeated.”