I met Brittany Salmon a few years ago, and we bonded over both being adoptive parents. Since then, she has adopted another child and written a book on best adoption practices for families and faith communities supporting them. I don’t often highlight books from adoptive parents as I believe some of the best voices we can learn from are adoptees. However, this book includes the voices of all involved and centers the adoptee perspective, while also sharing helpful stories about Brittany’s personal journey as a parent. This post (& her book) is for adoptive parents, yes, but truly the message is for all of us. It’s a grace to welcome Brittany to the farm’s table today…

I am going through a phase where some of my favorite shirts are graphic tees. One is made of a super soft blue material with white lettering on the front: “Love Makes a Family.” I enjoy wearing it out in public because we often get questions about our family’s makeup, and it’s a great way to educate briefly without much interaction.

“Are all those kids yours?”

“Why yes! Yes, they are.” And I point to my shirt, smile, and walk away.

Love makes a family.

And yet, although “love makes a family” is true, it’s an incomplete truth when coupled with the idea that love is all you need. True, deep, lasting love is the foundation of any healthy family. But love that sustains a family has more nuances than a blind, surface level assumption that it’s all we need. Love isn’t some suffocating euphoric emotion where only rainbows and unicorns live. Rather than hunkering down and claiming it’s the only thing necessary, love does the opposite. It comes in and makes room for more emotions, actions, and space for people to flourish and grow.

“Love is a commitment that through it all, we are going to stick it out together and weather the storm.”

Love is what fuels our pursuit of being a true multicultural family with different colored skin tones represented in it. Love is what motivates our decision to seek out trauma-informed counselors. It’s what makes space for our children to walk through complex emotions like grief and loss, rather than insisting they be thankful for being a part of our family. Love is what fuels us to truly love and honor our children’s birth families. Love is a commitment that through it all, we are going to stick it out together and weather the storm.

Love makes a family, but it makes room for so much more than just belonging to each other. It makes room for each of us to flourish. It makes room for other virtues to thrive. This world sells us a lot of misconceptions about what love should look like, but Scripture says,

“Love is patient. It’s kind. It doesn’t boast. It’s not self-serving. It looks out for the interests of others. It’s not resentful.”

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no accord of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:1–8)

Love is patient. It’s kind. It doesn’t boast. It’s not self-serving. It looks out for the interests of others. It’s not resentful.

So let’s flesh this out practically. When one of our kids asks to call their biological mother, love isn’t jealous. When one of our children starts to wrestle with difficult questions about being Black in a White family, love is patient. Love is kind. It rejoices in truth telling. When one of our children wrestles with being Biracial and developing their racial identity in a world that might see them in a different light, we wrestle too.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This sounds beautiful, but true love? It’s hard work. It’s gritty. It carries the load. It believes in you when you don’t believe in yourself. It hopes goodness and mercy for you when you can’t hope for it yourself. It acknowledges the loss and holds space for grief and joy to commingle. It endures the hard days and celebrates the good.

And when you apply these theological truths to a cross-cultural adoptive family—that’s a powerful picture of God’s love here on earth. Adoption isn’t opening up your home, letting a child in, and hoping that your parental love is enough. It’s loving a child so much that you’re willing to go meet them where they are, and together you and your family wrestle and rest in the love of an almighty God until we meet Jesus face to face. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that love makes a family, but love alone can’t sustain a cross-cultural adoptive family.

“Becoming a healthy cross-cultural adoptive family requires one to move beyond good intentions and focus on good impact.”

Becoming a healthy cross-cultural adoptive family requires one to move beyond good intentions and focus on good impact. In order to do this, you’ll need eyes to see and ears to hear. Our faith requires us to go and do (remember, faith without works is dead). And true love, a love that is pure and reflects the love of God, requires us to love the things He loves and hate the things He hates.

I pray these things for adoptive families because unless we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we are going to miss opportunities to truly love and meet the needs of our unique families. We’re going to miss out on loving our closest neighbors—the family God has given us—and our children will suffer because of it.

So, dear reader, I need you to know that as I type these words I’m praying over you now. I’m praying that when it comes to adoption, the Lord gives you a supernatural amount of wisdom. I’m praying that God gives you eyes to see the needs of your child, ears to listen to them and other adoptees and adoption experts, and hands and feet to go and seek out the help and resources your family requires. I hope your home will be a place of shalom, where joy and grief and confession and repentance are all welcome.

And yes, I’m praying for love, but remember, cross-cultural adoption requires so much more than love.

Brittany Salmon is a professor, writer, and Bible teacher. She has an MA in intercultural studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an MA in teaching from North Carolina State University, and is currently pursuing her doctorate from Southeastern Seminary where she is doing research on racial representation in Christian children’s literature. Brittany is passionate about taking theology and applying it to everyday life. And yet the people closest to her think of her as the friend who loves oversized sweatpants and a great conversation over coffee.

In her book, It Takes More Than Love: A Christian Guide to Navigating the Complexities of Cross-Cultural Adoption, Brittany shares her own family’s story of transracial adoption and offers a biblically-based guide for others following the same path. No one is promising transracial adoption will be easy—least of all Brittany! Yet the extra effort is balanced by a beauty that images our eternal destiny. Until the day God makes all things new, the welcoming of an inclusive transracial family can help fulfill Jesus’s words, “on earth as it is in heaven.”

[ Our humble thanks to Moody Publishers for their partnership in today’s devotion. ]