Adopting a child is a great work of love

Published: November 2, 2020

En Español

"To adopt a child is a great work of love. When it is done, much is given, but much is also received. It is a true exchange of gifts." — St. Pope John Paul II

Many in our culture have a negative view of adoption, but St. Pope John Paul II, in an address to adoptive families in the year 2000, made it clear that creating a family through adoption "is in no way inferior to one based on a biological connection."

"Adopting children, regarding and treating them as one's own children, means recognizing that the relationship between parents and children is not measured only by genetic standards. Procreative love is first and foremost a gift of self. There is a form of 'procreation,' which occurs through acceptance, concern and devotion," he explained.

"The resulting relationship is so intimate and enduring that it is in no way inferior to one based on a biological connection. When this is also juridically protected, as it is in adoption, in a family united by the stable bond of marriage, it assures the child that peaceful atmosphere and that paternal and maternal love which he needs for his full human development."

In the United States alone, there are more than 122,000 children and teens are in foster care waiting to be adopted. "The existence of so many children without families suggests adoption as a concrete way of love," St. Pope John Paul II said.

November is National Adoption Month. The Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, created this initiative through a partnership with AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway, to raise awareness of the need for adoption.

For many of us, it can also be a good time to discern if God is calling us or someone we know to adopt. Adoption can be done in different ways: private, domestic or international, infant adoption through an adoption agency or attorney or the adoption of children of any age through the state foster care system. Have you ever considered adoption for your family? Is it possible God might be calling you to adopt?

This year’s adoption month theme, “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn," highlights the need for families and permanent connections for teens, who are less likely to be adopted and more likely to age out of foster care without strong or stable family support. To learn more about adoption through foster care, read this FAQ from AdoptUSKids, or in Arkansas, visit Project Zero or Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime (CALL), which reaches out to churches, including Catholic churches, statewide to help members become foster or adoptive parents.

National Adoption Day is Nov. 21. More than 400 cities nationwide participate in this event to finalize thousands of adoptions of youth previously in foster care. Organizers of this event work with policymakers, practitioners and advocates to finalize adoptions to show children that one day can be life-changing.

For more than 35 years, the Diocese of Little Rock has operated Catholic Adoption Services, a non-profit, Arkansas-licensed, child placement agency and ministry of Catholic Charities of Arkansas. If you would like information about making an adoption plan for your baby or becoming adoptive parents, contact Antje Harris, LSW, director of Catholic Adoption Services, at (501) 664-0340, ext. 347.

If you are not sure how you feel about adoption, check out BraveLove. This is an organization started by an adoptive mom that aims to erase the negative stereotypes and convey the love at the heart of adoption. Its mission is to: "change the perception of adoption through honest, informative and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption." This is done through storytelling. Read or watch the honest and beautiful adoption stories told here.

For those being called, consider this Novena to St. Joseph for on the path of adoption. If God is not calling you to adopt there are still plenty of ways you and your family can support adoption. Check out this list of 43 Ways Everyone can Celebrate National Adoption Month from Adoption Network Law Center, or these prayer resources and suggestions for how to accompany an expectant mother considering adoption.