Editor's Note: Megan Hill's recent Her.meneutics post, "Adopting a Kid, Not a Cause," challenged some of the thinking driving the pro-adoption surge among evangelicals. The following is a response from Dennae Pierre, educational coordinator for Together for Adoption, the Reformed group mentioned by Hill in her essay.

As a foster and adoptive mother, I resonated with Megan Hill's thoughts on adoption; I never want my children to think of themselves as a "cause." Still, I found that Hill's post only scratched the surface.

We have children because we want them. That is an easy way to describe the prospect by which people begin to have a family. But is it enough to stop there? As thoughtful Christians, we must ask ourselves, Why do we want children?

The first few pages of the Bible show that procreation is very much a part of God's mission. God entrusted Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth with image-bearers. These image-bearers were to spread the image of God over the face of the earth. Why? Not primarily to meet Eve's instinctual need to nurture a child, although that was a result. It was not primarily to secure Adam's family lineage, although that happened as well. The primary reason was to spread God's name throughout the earth.

From the beginning, there has always been a missional aspect to having children. We certainly don't think God called our first parents to "be fruitful and multiply" so they could "rescue" a few children. This mission was broader, wider, and deeper. Our children, biological or not, are part of the mission God's entrusted to us.

What's in a Name ("Adoption")?

This is a piece of the backdrop that hangs behind the word adoption for us. When Together for Adoption speaks of adoption, we are talking about something specific and distinct. We are not talking primarily about adopting orphans. We do not believe that adoption is primarily about embracing a diverse kingdom or fulfilling our duty to the needy. The word adoption in our organization's name refers to the doctrine of adoption. We believe adoption is all about salvation. In fact, adoption is a wonderful way to describe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dan Cruver, the founder of Together for Adoption, says it wonderfully: "God is an adoptive Father. Jesus, our Elder Brother, is God the Father's eternal, only-begotten, natural Son. We believers are his sons through adoption. This identity is fundamental to who we are. As adopted sons, we enjoy all the rights and privileges of the relationship that God the Father enjoys with his eternal Son. To be God's sons through adoption means that we are co-heirs with Jesus. This is an amazing reality and an eternal privilege! We will forever be God's sons through the miracle of adoption."

The doctrine of adoption matters when it comes to orphan care. Of course, families who adopt must want and love children, but much more is needed if we are, on a macro level, to meet the needs of the hundreds of millions of orphaned and vulnerable children, and, on a micro level, to unselfishly love and the children in our homes in a way that provides answers and healing to their painful losses.

On a macro level, our message is not just for people who are currently involved in orphan care. We believe we must remind the church of the doctrine of their adoption precisely to awaken their minds to the idea of loving some of the most vulnerable children in our world. We are convinced that our message is necessary because the global orphan crisis is massive and unacceptable. The more than 130 million children who are orphaned will never get their physical and emotional needs met without the church taking extreme action. What should motivate the church to social action? Every single time, it needs to be the gospel. If we remove the gospel as the main motivation for the church to take action, we are left with individuals being motivated out of works righteousness.

What the Crisis Needs

Americans adopting children cannot solve the worldwide orphan crisis. Together for Adoption has never suggested that every Christian needs to adopt children, or even that every orphaned or vulnerable child needs to be adopted. Roughly 130,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. That is a miniscule drop in the bucket of the 130-million-plus children orphaned or at risk of being orphaned.

A family "wanting children" is necessary, but not enough, to solve the global orphan crisis. Together for Adoption's message is important because we need a movement of believers who will not rest until the suffering cry of every orphan is heard. And the church is still largely unaware of this cry. There are countless roles for Christians to play besides adopting children. If we want that type of movement to happen within the church, and to happen in a way that brings great glory to God, then it must be motivated by the good and wonderful work Christ did for us, not by our own desires.

Those are just a few of the countless examples of why, on a macro level, our message is necessary. There are innumerable examples on a micro level as well. As Hill noted, the adoption-blogging world well documents that adoption is not an easy task. Difficulties and pain are often involved. But the theology of adoption can equip Christians to have a persevering love with children who resist our love.

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We must have a love that is so unique, so counter-cultural, that we are able to love children whom the world does not want, the kind of children whom the world deems undesirable and unlovable. This unique love can come only after drinking from the well of God's love for his Son, which, by the wonderful grace of adoption, has been poured out to us.

Dennae Pierre is educational coordinator for Together for Adoption. A longer version of Pierre's essay can be found at T4A's website.