Whether you’re hopeful adoptive parents or a woman thinking about adoption, you may wonder what God’s word says about adoption. The Bible has lots to say about it.
Not only was adoption a legal way families could have an heir, but there are well-known people in both the Old and New Testaments who were adopted. Their lives had a significant impact on what happened in biblical history.
Biblical Meaning of Adoption
In Biblical times, adoption had a two-fold meaning. First, people used the word “adoption” to describe a stranger coming into a family and being recognized as a son.
The second way they used this word was in the legal, public ceremony where the son was recognized as an heir. An adopted child became a legitimate heir to the father’s estate. The family treated the adoptee as if they had been “born into” their new family. They had legal rights the same as their biological children.
God Adopts Us
Interestingly enough, God uses this term to describe our relationship with Him. He says we are adopted into His family.
When we put our faith and trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and his resurrection, God calls us his children. Ephesians 1:5 says it like this:
“In love, He (God) predestined us for adoption to sonship (and daughter ship) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…”
Biblical Stories of Adoption
In the Bible, there are many examples of adoption. The Bible doesn’t show any difference between the roles or responsibilities of an adopted child or a biological child. In God’s eyes of the law, adoptive families are just as real as biological ones.
Here are several well-known people who encountered adoption and God called to do great things for His kingdom.
The book of Exodus says that Pharaoh ordered the killing of Hebrew little boys. Fearful they would kill her son, Jochebed hid him in a small basket and placed it in the Nile River. When the daughter of Pharaoh found the basket with the tiny baby floating down the river, she pitied him. She raised him as her own son. She called him Moses.
He grew up to be a faithful servant of God who led the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt across the Red Sea. God gave Moses the ten commandments, and he led the Israelites through the desert to the promised land. Moses’ adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter was God’s ordained plan for his life.
Esther lost her parents at an early age. Her cousin, Mordecai, who invited her to live with his family, later adopted her.
Years later, as a young woman, Esther married the King. Through a series of circumstances, the King was tricked into making a declaration to kill the entire Jewish community. Unbeknownst to the King, his own queen was Jewish.
Queen Esther bravely appealed to her husband to spare her people at Mordecai’s urging. She saved the entire Jewish population and removed evil Haman, who was behind the plan to kill her, Mordecai, and the whole Jewish population.
In the gospels, we read the story of Mary, who was pregnant not with her fiancé Joseph’s son but with the Son of God.
Legally, Joseph could have had Mary stoned for adultery. But when God spoke to him, telling him to believe her, he obeyed God and took Mary as his wife. Likewise, after Jesus’ birth, he followed God by taking his little family down to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod.
After they returned to Nazareth, Joseph raised Jesus as his own son, along with his biological children. It’s wonderful that Jesus understands adoption since He was adopted while He lived on earth.
Adoption in the Bible
As you read the Bible, you’ll see many situations where adoption was a legal way for families to raise strangers as their sons and daughters. Of course, there are well-known Bible characters who were adopted or chose adoption for their child.
God’s heart for adoption is clear, since He calls us His adopted children. To describe His relationship with us in this way proves how precious adoption is to God and should be to us.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 6, 2017, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”