Orphanology author says adoption shouldn’t be ‘Plan B’ Aug 3, 2012 by BP STAFF
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)—Every adoption story is unique, but the tale of how pastor and author Tony Merida came to see he should adopt—essentially, through his own sermon—likely is quite rare.
When Merida was asked to preach at a youth camp on the subject of poverty, he began studying the subject in-depth, looking at the issue from a worldwide perspective.
He started to see, he said later, that "the poorest of the poor are the fatherless." He then examined what the Bible had to say about adoption.
"Basically, I got convicted by my own preaching," Merida told Baptist Press.
Merida and his wife adopted four Ukrainian children—all siblings—in 2009 and then a year later adopted a fifth child from Ethiopia. within a span of two years, their house went from having no children to five children. and he says he wouldn’t change anything.
Merida is part of a growing movement within the evangelical community that is giving a new look at adoption from a theological perspective, comparing earthly adoption to spiritual adoption. In his book Orphanology (New Hope) coauthored with Rick Morton, Merida makes the case for a Gospel-centered approach to adoption and orphan care.
"I’m hopeful for the future," said Merida, lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. "There seems to be a great interest in caring for orphans among evangelicals. I’m no expert in this field. I’m just a pastor and trying to help people connect the dots biblically, and I hope the next generation will take it further, practicing true religion."
Baptist Press asked Merida several questions about his book and adoption in general. Following is a partial transcript:
BAPTIST PRESS: In your book you say that adoption does not relate to whether you can or cannot have biological children. Adoption, you write, isn’t merely plan B.
MERIDA: I certainly wouldn’t challenge people if they were adopting because of infertility. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad reason. But as you look at the Gospel, adoption, to God, was not a plan B but plan a. I just look at Ephesians 1:5 and Ephesians 5:1, with Ephesians 1:5 saying we’ve been adopted and Ephesians 5:1 saying "imitate God." It has great implications for us. as I say in Orphanology, I don’t think everyone should adopt kids, but I think we all should be doing something for the fatherless. Theology is the best reason to adopt, and it’s really sad that most Christians think just like the culture on this issue. the cultural reason to adopt is infertility, but we want to think biblically about everything. a lot of people just want enough kids that they can manage. they don’t want their kids to mess up their career, they want to live out the American dream. Adoption is certainly not that. It’s messy. It’s difficult. It’s expensive. so, therefore, I think theology has to be what holds you.
BP: In the book, you recount a very powerful story of how your four new children had grown up in such poverty in the Ukraine that they were thrilled to get new clothes. describe that experience and the biblical lesson you learned from it.
MERIDA: They were wearing the same clothes every day, and we were there for 40 days. Rarely, during that whole time, did they have a different outfit on. Obviously, what they were wearing they didn’t own, and they weren’t the most pleasant smelling outfits, either. When we were finally ready to go home, we went out to buy some clothes. In the orphanage, you had to leave all your clothes behind you were wearing—underwear, socks, everything. you couldn’t take anything with you. Basically, you’re a child and you own nothing. You’re leaving behind these old garments, and you’re putting on this brand-new wardrobe. the kids, when dressing, were counting their socks; they were so happy with their socks. It was a great picture of the Gospel. as Paul says, Christians are putting off this old garment and putting on new clothes. It’s a great picture of what God has done for us in rescuing us.
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