Are Fathers Just DNA Donors?

I heard a famous Christian dad talk about his family last week, and he made the comment that they decided to primarily adopt children. And he said, “Because I didn’t feel like I needed to be the DNA donor for my kids. So we decided just to do mostly adoptions.” And man, it kind of hit me. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. I’ve had multiple … I’ve heard multiple families that have opted for adoption, make this analogy that there is zero difference between adopting children and having biological children. And the way that they oftentimes reflect that is they just say, “Why should I care if it’s my DNA or not?” That’s the way that they talk about it. And I understand where that’s coming from.

But I think one of the things that that does, and I wanted to kind of get your reaction to this, Jeff, and maybe tease this out another layer, because this is something that … Because we don’t think about multi generational family any more, oftentimes we don’t think about the different stories that adoption and biological children bring into a family and both stories are beautiful, but it’s really important to understand the difference. And the difference isn’t just the flippant statement that you can or choose to or to not be a DNA donor.

So the stories, the way that I see this, play out like this. And a lot of this, you guys came from a lot of our friends have done adoptions, especially through the foster care system. And one of the things that is happening in the adoption world today is that there used to be a trend of just closed adoptions. Let’s not talk about it. You might find out if you run across some papers when you’re a teenager that you were adopted. Today, we do a lot more open adoptions. There’s a lot more conversation around why that decision was made and where you might’ve come from biologically.

And so I think that is so much more healthy, especially when we’re having this conversation around multi generational family. And so what a lot of the families that were around that are adopting kids are doing is they’re really talking to their kids in detail about their story, and they see as part of what their family is doing, particularly those who are adopting at a foster care is that they are beginning to … They’re really redeeming another family line while they’re integrating this child into their family. And so they’re pursuing grandparents from the adopted child’s biological family line, and they’re beginning to really tell those stories and collect those stories and think about those stories in the same way with their biological kids who are only related to that family line that they’re currently in. Then their story is just a little bit different.

And those that diversity, I think, is beautiful. And the story of adoption, you guys, is not something you see in the Hebrew scriptures. You see it really come out in beautiful ways in the new covenant. And Paul talks about how in the new covenant, those of us who are Gentiles have been adopted into Abraham’s family. And so we are now in God’s household and he talks about that in detail in Galatians, in so many beautiful ways. But if you are in the process of thinking about adopting kids and also having biological kids, instead of just saying, “It’s all one story, it’s all the same. I just happen to be a DNA donor.”

In this case, but that kind of like kind of trying to eliminate the historic story, eliminate the multi generational family line that both children are coming from, and the fact that they’re coming from different multi generational family lines, that’s not helpful longterm, in my opinion. I think it’s better to acknowledge the diversity, to acknowledge the difference to talk about it as a family and to see that our family is redeeming families through adoption, and our family is continuing on this family line as well through our biological children. Those are different stories, they’re beautiful, and they’re integrated now into one blended family. And I think that that’s a great story. And it’s something that I think a lot of families Christian families are pursuing for good reason, but diminishing those stories I think is not as helpful. But Jeff, what are your thoughts about that?

Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. It’s kind of just sometimes good intentions, but it actually, in the long run can sometimes hurt the adopted kid of when you’re trying to eliminate subtly their story, by trying to think that like, “Oh, you’re so in the family.” It’s kind of saying, “I need to do that. We need to delete their story to make them feel so just a part of our family and welcome.” And they both can be true. They’re not mutually exclusive.

And yeah, story is so important. And I think especially kids who have been adopted and I’ve seen families who have done this well. They actually see a lot of fruit when you really engage with that kid’s story. Tell them the honest truth, tell them how good God is, tell them how he redeems, but tell him there’s also harsh realities in this world, and that at some level there was a harsh premise or something sad had to have happened. We can’t negate that for even the adoption to happen. That something … But yet there is blessing and goodness in it still. It’s the perfect picture of the gospel, and that’s why I think adoption is such a prominent phrase and such a prominent lens in which God uses for us in the scriptures, because it tells a particular story. And so I just say, tell that story, be honest with that story. And I think it actually can really reap a lot of huge rewards and blessing and fruit when you then start reconnecting to those lines that actually you’re not a part of, but maybe your kid is.

An adopted child can actually be a really interesting and beautiful conduit to merge different lines, to merge healing, to merge reconciliation. And that is where I see it be really, really powerful.

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