By Lauren Konkol
Five international adoptions from China, Guatemala, and South Korea—in addition to my four biological siblings—have made me the oldest of 10 children.
As National Adoption Awareness Month has come and gone, I’ve reflected even more than usual on the incredible blessing I am grateful to call my family.
Each of my siblings has a unique story—one filled with countless challenges and moments of suffering, but also many more of great joy, laughter, and love.
But they all have one thing in common. Their addition into our family was made possible through the gift of adoption, specifically through Christian adoption agencies.
But an ongoing court case in Michigan has posed a new threat to the very existence of families like mine.
In Dumont et al. v. Lyon, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued the state of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services over a 2015 state adoption law that allows private adoption agencies, like the ones my family used, to freely exercise their religious beliefs in the way they choose to operate their agencies.
This is not a case about hindering a couple’s choice to adopt, nor is it a case about the establishment of religion.
Rather, it is a case about religious liberty, and whether the government should partner with faith-based groups to provide adoptive services to families while allowing them to simultaneously maintain their religious views.
Even more so, it is a case about how these agencies envision children flourishing in family structures.
In addition to Michigan, six other states—Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia—have enacted similar legislation to protect these adoption agencies from closure.
Additionally, Congress is currently considering the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would implement protections for these faith-based agencies at the federal level.
But if this law is overturned, and these agencies are forced to close, countless children will suffer in incomprehensible ways.
The plight of over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. (13,000 in the Michigan foster care system alone) and 110,000 waiting to be adopted warrants a resounding call to gladly welcome children into our families.
Until every child has a home, we ought to make great efforts to remove barriers between waiting children and loving families. One of the surest ways to do this is by making it possible—legislatively—for more adoption agencies to exist.
We ought not to create new barriers by decreasing the number of groups actively assisting in child placement, groups that played an instrumental role in the formation of my family.
My family’s story might not have been possible if it were not for these Christian adoption agencies—and countless staff—who walked with us every step of the way, from the first photo to the first hug.
Adoption is easily one of the hardest, but most beautiful journeys my family has traveled.
For the Christian, adoption is central to the gospel. We adopt because when we were most destitute, we ourselves were adopted into the family of God.
In his book “Adopted for Life,” Russell Moore writes,
When we adopt—and when we encourage a culture of adoption in our churches and communities—we’re picturing something that’s true about our God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise. And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans, making them sons and daughters.
Christian adoption agencies serve families and communities in a unique way. They provide spiritual support throughout an arduous process that comes with many tears and heartaches over the course of many months, and often times, years.
The years of waiting our family experienced with five adoptions could not have been sustained without prayer—prayer from our family, community, and the staff of our adoption agencies.
There was a deep sense of comfort knowing that the people we were opening our family, home, and hearts to were caring for us and our future family members in a way that had a profoundly eternal impact.
Rather than this being a time of unfounded hope and yearning, we had assurance—and regular reminders from our caseworkers—that it was a time sovereignly ordained by God.
Every single child, both born and unborn, has inherent dignity. Through adoption, we demonstrate to these children that they are valuable, wanted, and loved.
We must protect the most vulnerable among us, and signal through both word and deed for our communities to do the same.
Editor’s note. Lauren Rae Konkol is on staff with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in Washington, D.C. This appeared at the Daily Signal.