We're asked this question on a very regular basis. “Why in the world would you want to go all the way to Ethiopia to adopt a child?” Another one is, “Aren't there children available for adoption in the US?”
Of course, there are many, many children available in the US for adoption. There are, however, 143 million orphans worldwide. And there's no way that our family can save or even help all of them. We can though, love and cherish several, and hopefully in the future we can financially sponsor several more.
Our family decided to adopt from Ethiopia because that's where God led us—it's as plain and simple as that. To the non-Christian, this probably doesn't make much sense. And even to some Christians it doesn't make much sense. But we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Ethiopia is where God wants us to go. It doesn't make much practical sense, perhaps. I mean, it's less expensive to adopt domestically. Many times a domestic adoption is even faster. But we know that God has children in Ethiopia that he wants in our family.
After all, God has adopted us as his children:
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Wait a minute—we are God's children?! We are co-heirs with Christ! God has taken us into his family, though we did absolutely nothing to deserve it. It's not because we're special, or because we've done something really good. It's because he loves us. It's as simple as that. How can I receive that love and not reciprocate by loving others? How can I be a part of God's family, without being willing to bring “the least of these” into mine?
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Whatever I do for the least of God's people, I do for Jesus. Notice that Jesus did not say “Whatever you do for the people in your country” or “Whatever you do for the people around you, as long as it's practical” or even “Whatever you do for the least of these, as long as it doesn't cost too much.” No, God says to love and care for the least of his people. I have to believe that includes caring for the child whose parents have both died of AIDS, who has no family left, who is starving.
Why anyone would argue about whether or not that's a good idea is beyond me. I'm obviously in no way perfect, nor have I followed Jesus' command like I could have. But I can only move forward and ask that God would use me, imperfect though I am.
What can I take with me into heaven? Only the people whose lives I have touched. What better way to touch someone's life than to bring them into your family, to care for them when no one else can, to love them.
If someone's offended because I'm not adopting an American child, so be it. I don't think God cares too much about the boundary lines we like to draw on his land. It's all his. All the people are his. It's our job to love them.