There are half a million kids in foster care. More than 100,000 want to be adopted. Focus on the Family, Rick Warren, and other evangelical leaders are encouraging evangelical Christian families to see foster kids as, in effect, the orphans that the Bible instructs us to care for.
I think this is a great idea. We have had speakers in our family life class talk about the desperate state of foster care, and the truly life-saving help a good foster family – and even better, an adoptive family – can be to kids with no reliable families of their own.
There are, naturally, some people who object, and some who are just suspicious. Leaders of the movement are sensitive to the charge that evangelicals care about kids until they are born, so this is an effort to complete the pro-life agenda. I think the charge is mostly false, but even if it were true, adopting orphans is still a good thing to do. Foster agencies forbid corporal punishment, which many conservative religious families use. I can see the case that kids assigned to foster care have probably already had a bad experience with hitting at home, so corporal punishment would be worse for them than for other kids. Some are concerned that evangelical placement agencies would not work with homosexuals who wanted to be adoptive parents, but that is really about the agencies, not about the evangelical families. And to those who worry that Christian families would take their adopted kids to church – I can only hope so. Evangelicals invite everyone in their household to church – that is what makes them evangelical. Whether they can convince the kids is another matter, but any family might face that problem no matter how they came by their children.
An evangelical Christian movement to care for the orphans of our day seems to me a very good thing.