Cedarville University implemented an adoption assistance benefit during the fall semester as an example of a biblical response to adoption.
Thomas White, president of Cedarville University, said during chapel Oct. 2, 2015, that Cedarville will provide up to $3,000 to faculty who adopt a child. Faculty may receive this financial assistance for up to two children per family.
“We may expand it in the future,” White said in an email. “But (the administration) wanted to start modestly and wisely.”
The benefit attempts to make adoption more affordable for faculty, he said.
“Unless you work through the foster care system,” White said, “adoption can be incredibly expensive domestically, and international adoption adds even more cost. The university values our faculty and staff, and we want to come alongside them to help those going through the adoption process.”
Christopher Sohn, vice president for business and chief financial officer at Cedarville, said the adoption assistance benefit partially reimburses faculty for the cost of adopting a child. Because the adoption process is generally very expensive, Sohn said the university hopes the assistance program will enable more faculty to adopt children.
“The goal (of the assistance program) was to encourage those (faculty members who may wish to adopt) by offering a financial gift to offset the cost and help streamline the process and make the adoption easier,” Sohn said. “For many, the high cost of adoption can be a deterrent to actually going through with it. This is something small that (Cedarville University) can do to promote adopting in the university family.”
Adopting a daughter
The assistance program began from White’s desire to do what he felt the Lord was calling him to do, White said.
“For those who know me and my family in particular, they know adoption is extremely close to my heart,” White said.
White and his wife adopted their daughter Rachel in January 2005. The adoption process involved a lot of effort and paperwork, White said in a September 2013 chapel message.
“We had to get lawyers in two states. We had to get a doctor, because you have to have a doctor before they let you adopt a child,” White said in the message. “(We) had to have home studies. All of these things had to happen (in the adoption process).”
However, Rachel’s adoption process took only nine days, White said.
“Nine months to nine days,” he said. “That’s actually just a miracle of the Lord.”
White said the adoption of his daughter greatly impacted his life.
“I’m sitting there, holding in my arms a little girl,” White said, remembering the day of his daughter’s adoption. “A girl that I had no relationship with, no legal responsibility with when I walked into that lawyer’s office. When I walked out of that lawyer’s office, she had a new name, she had somebody she could call ‘daddy’ once she learned how to talk, (and) she had somebody who would die at sunup for her.”
The spiritual parallel
White said his personal experience with the adoption process is a picture of the spiritual adoption Christians receive from God.
“(Rachel’s adoption was) just a little-bitty glimpse of what we see with spiritual adoption and what God Almighty does for us,” White said in the chapel message.
White said Christians were originally lost as slaves to sin and enemies of God, but through the spirit of adoption they gained access to a father who loves them unconditionally.
“We were not given (a) spirit to stay in the slavery of sin, but (Romans 8:15) says we are given a spirit of adoption of sons, by whom we cry out, Abba, Father,” he said.
In a further explanation of Christians’ spiritual adoption, White said that as adopted members of God’s family, Christians must live in a way that reflects the one who has adopted them. One way to live like a child of God is to minister to the orphaned, he said.
“True religion is ministry to widows and orphans, so we (the administration) want to support that in any way we can,” White said in an email.
Ministering to orphans
Members of Cedarville’s administration, including the executive team and the business division, worked to implement the adoption assistance program, Sohn said.
“(Dr.White) asked us to look at and see what we could provide, how we could provide and how we could present it to university employees as a new benefit,” Sohn said.
Cedarville researched the adoption assistance programs of other schools in order to implement its own, he said.
“We looked at other schools and universities to see what they were providing to get a sense for how it would be set up, how it would operate (and) how we would be able to present (it) to the employees of the university,” Sohn said. “We decided what made sense from a standpoint for Cedarville. We tried to take the best parts of each benefit that we saw as we researched what was out there.”
Sohn said the program was developed relatively quickly.
“It took probably 30, 45 days,” Sohn said. “This is one (benefit) that we can provide more simply than other benefits.”
Although the developing process was simple, Sohn said the assistance program is significant to the university.
“We wanted to make sure that this was one of the many benefits we provide to employees on campus,” Sohn said. “As a Christian school and as Christians, providing that kind of financial support is important to us.”
The program communicates what Cedarville is as a university, White said.
“(Cedarville is) a school driven by our commitment to the gospel in showing the adopting love of God to the far-too-many orphans who desperately need a home,” he said in an email.
White said the adoption assistance program is an outgrowth of Cedarville’s ideas toward life.
“Adoption grows out of our pro-life commitment as a university. Being pro-life isn’t just relevant to the battle over abortion, but to all (of) life, especially in taking care of orphans,” White said in an email.
While Cedarville students are not physically affected by this program, the program is an example to Cedarville students of the importance of adoption, White said.
“There is no direct benefit (to students),” he said. “But I hope this benefit serves as a means to help them think more deeply on the matter of adoption, how to live out a biblical worldview, and how they might support adoption in the future.”
Information about Cedarville’s adoption assistance program is posted in the online handbook for those who are interested.
Rebekah Erway is a sophomore English major and reporter for Cedars. She is a diehard Disney, Veggietales, and Lord of the Rings fan and enjoys speaking in a British accent.
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