Are all Christians adopted?

Paul’s metaphor can be harmful to those of us who have experienced adoption—and the abandonment that is usually central to it.

When Harry and Bertha Holt founded Holt International in the 1950s, the American couple saw international adoption as a new kind of Christian missionary work. The Holts themselves adopted eight Korean orphans during the Korean War. In her 1956 book about Harry—The Seed from the East, written with David Wisner—Bertha offers this quote from Harry, in which he contrasts the ease of his American life with the suffering of children in Korea:

I’ve been thinking I’d like to go to Korea. Every night when I go to bed, I see those pictures all over again. It doesn’t make any difference where I am or what I’m doing. I think about those kids over there. I look out here at this beautiful playground God has so generously given us, and something inside of me cries out at the thought of those poor little babies starving to death or being thrown into dumps to be gnawed on by rats. I think we ought to adopt some of the GI children.

As Holt International became one of the largest adoption agencies in the world, Harry and Bertha Holt helped to set the stage for a US Christian adoption movement that involved tens of thousands of children getting adopted out of their countries in overseas closed adoptions.