Spalding and Magan Collection


Adopting Infant Children

From time to time persons have asked my counsel in regard to the advisability of adopting infant children. Among these several wives of ministers. Before answering these questions, I have tried, as far as possible, to learn all the circumstances of the case. And I have not dared to give counsel unless I knew that the Lord was leading me. SpM 114.1

There are persons who have no little ones of their own, who may do good by adopting children. Those who have not the sacred responsibility of proclaiming the Word, and laboring directly for the salvation of souls, have duties in other lines of work. If they are consecrated to God, and are qualified to mold and fashion human minds, the Lord will bless them in caring for the children of others. But let the children of believers have our first consideration. There are among Sabbath-keepers very many large families of children that are not properly cared for. Many parents give evidence that they have not learned of Christ the lessons that would make them safe guardians of children. Their children do not receive the proper training. And there are among us many children whom death has deprived of a parent's care. There are those who might take some of these children and seek to mold and fashion their characters according to Bible principles.... SpM 114.2

But I dare not counsel our ministers and missionaries who are continually moving from place to place, to encumber themselves by adopting children, especially helpless infants. Those who have children of their own must share the responsibility of training them to do service for God. It is the wife's duty to care for the children and husband. The Lord will give her strength to do this work if she will put her trust in Him and obey the laws of life and health. The husband and wife are to unite in the work of bringing up the children in the love and fear of God. A well ordered and well disciplined family will have a powerful influence for good. But if you have no children of your own, it may be that the Lord has a wise purpose in withholding from you this blessing. It should not be taken as evidence that it is your duty to adopt a child. In some cases this might be advisable. When the Lord bids you take an infant to bring up, then the duty is too plain to be misunderstood. But, as a rule, it is not God's will for a minister's wife to encumber herself with such a responsibility. SpM 114.3

The work of God demands most earnest labor, and the Lord would have ministers and their wives closely united in this work. The husband and wife can so blend their labor that the wife shall be the complement of the husband. The Lord desires them unitedly to watch for his voice, to draw closer and still closer to Him, feeding upon his Word, and receiving light and blessing to impart to others. They should be as free as possible to attend camp-meetings and other general gatherings. And the wife may continually be a great help to her husband in visiting, and other personal labor. SpM 114.4

If the companion of a minister is united with her husband in the work of saving souls, it is the highest work she can do. But the care of a little child would absorb her attention, so that she could not attend the meetings and labor successfully in the visiting and personal effort. Even if she accompanies her husband, the child is too often the burden of thought and conversation, and the visits are made of no effect. Those whom God has called to be colaborers with him, are to have no idols to absorb their thought and affection which he would have directed in other lines...... SpM 115.1

We need carefully to search our hearts and study our motives. Selfishness may prompt the desire to do what appears to be an unselfish and praiseworthy act. The reason that many urge for desiring to adopt a child - the longing for something on which to center our affections - reveals the fact that the heart is not centered upon Christ: it is not absorbed in his work. When I have heard a wife mourning that her husband did not show her all the affection that she thought he should, I have sent a silent petition to God, that this soul might be refreshed with the Word. From the light that God has given me, I knew that she needed to drink the deep, cool waters of Lebanon, instead of the turbid streams of the valley. When women will feed upon the Water of Life, they will have far less sentimentalism, and far greater spirituality. They will purify their souls by obeying the truth. If a woman's life is connected with one whom God has chosen, to be a laborer together with God, let her consider that she can make his heart tired, and his soul sad, by her unconsecrated course of action. If self clamors for attention, and unless great devotion is shown her, she becomes unhappy, and she may greatly hinder him in his work. She needs to learn of Christ, who lived not to please himself. He is our example in all things. SpM 115.2

If the wife is a colaborer with Christ in the work of saving souls, she will keep abreast with her husband in cultivating mind and heart. She will endeavor to stand equal with him in knowledge of the Word of God, and in obedience to all of His requirements. She will keep her own soul refreshed by eating the Word and drinking the waters from the wellspring of life. Then the words she speaks will not be prompted by envy or jealousy. They will proceed from a sanctified heart, that has been daily learning lessons at the feet of Jesus. Thus, instead of making herself a helpless burden, to be the object of her husband's solicitude, and to demand a large share of his attention, the wife may strengthen her husband to do the highest service for God. SpM 115.3

The light which God has given me in regard to ministers’ wives is, if their lives are kept in close consecration to God, as is the duty of all who are laborers together with Him, they will find so many souls to minister unto, that they will have no opportunity to be lonesome or to cultivate selfishness in any line. Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Those who heed this invitation will have no thought of repining, no thought of loneliness. Their work is to do the will of Christ. As they do this, they will have sweet peace and rest of soul. SpM 115.4

The question of adopting a child, especially an infant, involves a most serious responsibility. It should not be lightly regarded. One who has herself taken a baby to bring up, may feel that unless other ministers’ wives shall follow her example, they are remiss in their duty. But this is an error. Our duty is not decided by what others may plan for us. The question for each to settle is, in doing this, shall I be merely gratifying my own wishes, or is it a duty the Lord has appointed me? Is this His way, or the way of my own choosing? All are to be workers for God. Not one is excused. Your talents are not your own, to employ as you may fancy. Inquire, what would the Lord have me do with the entrusted talents? Shall I labor for the salvation of souls? Shall I follow the directions of Isaiah 58:6-11? SpM 116.1

There are deep, earnest lessons for us to learn, else self will be our center, the controlling power of our lives. The duty is of the present, vigilant, working, and earnest, solemn waiting in view of the solemn event of our Lord's appearing. Workings, watchings, praying,—these constitute the ideal Christian duty and responsibility, making the perfect man in Christ Jesus. Our life is not to be all waiting, not all bustle and activity and excitement, to the neglect of personal piety. The door of the heart must always be open to Jesus, that we may always hear his voice and invitation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” We are to be “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” There is always a danger of taking upon ourselves a work the Lord has not placed in our hands, and neglecting that which he has given us to do, and which would better honor his name; that which to human eyes may appear praiseworthy, may be the very thing the Lord has not placed in our hands. Then let us individually consider the many branches of the work. There are various kinds of work to do. Consider prayerfully what would best tell for the cause of God. If there is a humble, unselfish heart, and a contrite spirit, in seeking to know the Lord's will, he will lead each of us in the path where he would have us walk. SpM 116.2

Let no one feel condemned because she does not take a child to care for. The Lord may have a greater work for you to do in teaching those who know not God to do his will. Thus saith the Lord: “Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself unto the Lord, speak saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people; neither let the eunuch say, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord to the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant: even unto them will I give in mine house a place and a name better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.” SpM 116.3

I have written these things that Satan may not allure any of my brother ministers or their companions into positions where they would be prevented from doing the very work that the Lord has assigned them. We must watch, we must pray, and when the Lord says, Whom shall I send to do this errand for me, we should be ready to say, “Here am I, send me.” Serious work is to be done. It has been waiting for unselfish, consecrated workers. Brethren and sisters, open your hearts to the Spirit of God, and devote your God-given abilities to working as for your lives to pull some soul out of the fire. Keep in the channel of light, for there is to be more direct communication from heaven to earth. We have not a moment to lose. There is a heaven to win, and a hell to shun. SpM 116.4

I call upon my brethren to come to the help of the Lord against the mighty. I call upon my sisters to stand by their side, and help them in the work. “Ye are not your own, for ye are brought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. SpM 117.1

Mrs. E. G. White