Life never turns out exactly like we thought it would. The Bible is full of these stories. I’m sure it didn’t turn out like Ruth thought it would. Her husband died early on and she had to remarry. It didn’t for Joseph. He was sold into slavery. I’m certain David was hoping for something a little less dramatic and heart wrenching. He ended up committing adultery and losing his son. And life sure didn’t turn out like we thought it would. After 6 years of trying to have a baby we finally ended up at a speciality clinic where the doctors told us we couldn’t have children. You can’t imagine the heartache and the crushing feelings of sadness that followed. Yet, God had other plans: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). God’s plans were not our plans and yet He continued to put a desire for children in our hearts. So, to make a long story hopefully shorter, one of the options given to us was adoption. Specifically, embryo adoption. Now that may sound a little strange (I know it raised a lot of questions for us) so let me explain why embryo adoption is a great way to adopt children.
The process varies from clinic to clinic and couple to couple but the end result is that embryos are made that cannot be used by the biological couple. Since the beginning of in vitro fertilization there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of embryos left over from these procedures. Many of these are destroyed. They are never given the opportunity to develop and mature in the womb to become an infant. So instead of destroying these embryos some parents decide to give these embryos up for adoption.
This is where we come in. As Christians we believe that life starts at conception, that all life is valuable and that we are called to care for the least of these (Matthew 25:40). The Bible clearly teaches that mankind is made in the image of God, and because we are image bearers, we have value and worth. Life is sacred. But as we read scripture we also see that God cares about the unborn child, the embryo. Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” Psalm 139:13. In Jeremiah it says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). It is very clear that life begins, not at birth but at conception, and so we look at those embryos as little children yet to be born. It is also clear that God, in the book of Job, makes life in the womb, “Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?” (Job 12:10). It is also clear that God cares for the orphan, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless” Exodus 22:22-24. So as God cares for the orphan, so must we.
But honestly, if that weren’t enough, what really convinced us that we needed to seek adoption, that we needed to give these embryos a shot at life, was our own adoption. You see, as Christians we stand as adopted sons and daughters of the almighty King. Nothing is greater than understanding that we were orphans, clothed in rags and that God through Jesus Christ gave us new life. He adopted us into His family and now we are heirs with Christ of the eternal blessings given to us by God. There is an Old Testament passage that speaks of Israel’s adoption. Yes, it is long, but it is more than worth its weight in gold. Nothing I know of displays or describes our adoption better than this passage:
“Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.
“And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.
“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God ” (Ezekiel 16:1-14).
This is why we adopted, because Christ adopted us. And so this child will not carry any of our genetic code but they will be our child. We will love them as much or more than many parents love their own biological children. We will not keep the truth from them but we will also call them “son” or “daughter” because they are our child, just as we are the children of God. So we ask that you would rejoice with us. We ask that you would welcome this child into our loving church body as you would any covenant son or daughter. We ask that you would pray for us. And we pray that you would love them as you have loved us. May God bless you as we all try to better understand and live out our own adoptions by our heavenly Father.
Richard & Kate Brueck