Excerpted from: Louisville Courier Journal – Click here to see the original article
By Peter Smith
David and Tera Melber always knew they wanted a large family, but they didn’t expect it to grow the way it did.
The southern Jefferson County couple already had three biological children when David’s overseas visit several years ago to a crowded, seedy orphanage convinced the couple that there were too many children in need of a home to ignore. In 2005, they adopted a daughter, Maritess, from the Philippines, followed by two sons from Ethiopia, Jonas in 2007 and Isaac in 2010. Their six children now range in age from 4 to 16.
“We believe that’s part of our mandate as believers, to be able to go and help those who are in need,” said Tera Melber.
The Melbers are part of a growing adoption movement among evangelical Christians. They see taking in children — whether locally or from different countries — as fulfilling biblical mandates to help the needy and to evangelize children. Adoption has unquestionably risen as a major focus of evangelical churches and organizations through sermons, conferences, support groups, subsidies and orphan-awareness Sundays.
Tera Melber coordinates an adoption ministry at Highview Baptist Church, where 95 families have adopted 140 children — the majority since the ministry started five years ago, she said. At least 13 families have adopted or cared for foster children, she said. ”We have various people who are adopting little babies from right here in Louisville, Ky., or going overseas and adopting a sibling group of three children”, said Tera Melber. Other church members volunteer their time to care for orphans or donate money.
“We don’t really believe every Christian is called to adopt, but we do believe every Christian is called to do something,” Melber said.
Evangelicals also depict adoption in theological terms — as a real-life parable of biblical texts describing salvation as adoption into God’s family. Christians who are adopting “get a new sense of the Gospel that they’ve already embraced,” said Moore, who adopted two sons from Russia and authored the book, “Adopted for Life.”
For the Melbers, where the children are home-schooled together and cooperate on child care and other chores, the adoption experience has broadened the perspectives of both parents and children. “It’s given me more thought about more countries,” said Jonathan. He said “we’re so blessed” to live in this country, but he realizes the world is “not just America.”
David Melber agreed with those who say crises of poverty and child welfare can’t be solved by trying to “adopt every orphan in every country.” He cited church mission teams that work alongside locals to improve conditions for everyone in a country, including its orphans. Oldest son Alex Melber, 16, for example, has already volunteered to work with orphans in Haiti and plans to do so again. “Having siblings that didn’t speak English, it helped me communicate with kids down there,” he said. “I had already done it here.”