Adoption means: to take as one's own. I'm still not sure if donating some gifts to a needy family once a year, or picking up trash on a piece of pavement with your name on it constitutes the fullness of what it means to truly adopt, but I no longer feel called to correct the folks who use "adopt-a-whatever" in these ways.
In fact, I'm now discovering a much larger range in it's meaning. Early in our first adoption process, and in light of scripture, I began to understand what I call "adoption theology". As discussed on this blog many times before, this is where I came to understand that God the Father adopted us (gentiles) through His Son Jesus Christ through no merit of our own and only because of His profound goodness. This was to be our example. This is the image of what he wants from us and how we are called to love one another - to take each other as our own.
Sometimes, obviously, this means literally adopting a child. But in my recent reflections, I'm now coming to understand (since I can not physically adopt all the children I would like - greedy) that most often this means adoption - in a spiritual sense. A perfect example of this would be the way priests, sisters and religious adopt members of their communities with prayer, work, sacrifice and devotion. I'm learning that we, the faithful, need to adjust our social parameters to include more of an adoptive mentality in which we imitate that same generosity already bestowed on us by practicing spiritual advocacy.
We are called to adopt the lonely, the lost, the souls in purgatory, the atheist, the embittered, the imprisoned, the blind rich, the misguided, and any other sorry soul that God puts in our path. If a person doesn't have the fullness of truth, if they are spiritual orphans - we can adopt them - without the paperwork, the home study or the fingerprints. In other words, adopting someone may not necessarily require the provision of their temporal needs. It may just mean more than that - recognizing that certain profound state of poverty in their hearts and interceding on their behalf with our prayer, petition and sacrifice in which we continually beg the Lord for His mercy, His grace, and His intervention in their lives all the while hoping for their conversion.
And this kind of adoption is not limited to a season, a good cause, or even a childhood,
but benefits the soul,
both theirs and ours,
for all of eternity.