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What Does the Bible Say About Adoption?

If you’re considering adoption or have already adopted a child, you may be wondering what the Bible has to say on the subject. Even though you may not have heard about it much in church, there are actually a lot of Bible verses surrounding the topic and there are people in the Bible such as Moses and Esther whose stories could not be told without mentioning adoption.

More than anything, the stories in the Bible and the verses we share here show that God has a heart for orphans and those without a home. No matter what season of life you’re in, we hope to answer some of the most common questions about what the Bible says about adoption.

Stories of Adoption in the Bible

Looking to the Bible for answers often means learning by listening to the stories of those who walked closely with God. There are two people in the Old Testament who truly understood the meaning of adoption, and reading their stories gives us a small glimpse into what adoption means in the Bible.


Esther lost her parents at a young age and when she became an orphan, she was adopted by her cousin Mordecai.

Esther 2:7 “Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.”

Esther is known for her faithfulness and bravery in the Bible, and her relationship with Mordecai is a big part of her story. Esther had the favor of the King and ended up marrying him. She was led by God to speak up, ultimately saving the Hebrew people but if not for Mordecai’s advice and love for her, she may have ended up on a very different path.


The story of Moses is another one that starts with adoption. Moses was born during a time when the pharaoh wanted to get rid of the Hebrew people. In order to protect her son, Moses’ mother sends him down the river in a basket where he is found by the pharaoh’s daughter. 

Exodus 2:10 “When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.” (NIV)

When the pharaoh’s daughter found Moses, she realized he was one of the Hebrew boys, but she took pity on him and decided to adopt him as her own son. Moses went on to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and across the red sea. The pharaoh’s daughter saved Moses when she adopted him and she chose to care for him without realizing the impact it would make on the world. 

Although their paths were very different, both Esther and Moses’ lives were changed by adoption, and if no one had chosen to take them in, we would not be reading their stories of redemption today. 

10 Bible Verses About Adoption

Although adoption in any form is a big decision and one that should be considered prayerfully, when we look to the Bible it’s clear that the Lord has a heart for those who are orphans and without a home. Not everyone may be called to biologically adopt children, but as followers of Christ we are called to care for and protect those who cannot care for themselves. 

No matter what your personal journey looks like, these 10 Bible verses about adoption paint a clear picture of God’s heart and we hope they will encourage you and remind you of where the Lord is calling you in this season. 

1. Deuteronomy 10:18

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” (NIV)

The Lord not only loves those who are fatherless, he also defends them and he acknowledges those who receive the call of protecting them. Adoption is one way to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, but it’s not the only way. Even if you’re not able to adopt, there are many ways to help those in need.

2. James 1:27

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (NIV)

This verse in James makes it clear that the Lord has called us to look after those who are hurting, distressed, and without a home. Instead of being religious, he asks us to act out our faith and demonstrate the love we have for him by looking after those who are orphans.

3. Psalm 27:10

“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” (NIV)

No matter the situation, this verse is a reminder that the Lord is faithful to take care of those who don’t have the love of a mother and father. The Lord cares for every person, and he has a heart for those who are without family. He has loved us as sons and daughters and asks us to do the same for the children he places in our path.

4. Isaiah 1:17

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (NIV)

God asks us to defend those who are fatherless and stand up for what is right. In this verse, he makes it clear that his heart yearns for justice for every orphan and widow and he is calling us to be his hands and feet in order to protect them.

5. John 14:18

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (NIV)

The context of this verse in John is Jesus is speaking to and comforting his disciples. His promises to us are sweet and when he says he will not leave us as orphans, it’s a reminder that he will always be a comfort to those without a home.

6. Proverbs 31:8

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” (NIV)

Part of adoption is advocating for children who cannot speak for themselves, and this verse calls us to defend and speak for those little ones. No matter how young or old, every person deserves to be spoken for.

7. Ephesians 1:5-6

“he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (NIV)

Although not adoption in the literal sense, the Bible speaks frequently about how we are adopted by God, and the way he adopts us spiritually and loves us is the same way he expects us to love and care for others.

8. Acts 7:21

“When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.” (NIV)

The adoption of Moses by the pharaoh’s daughter is one of the ways God fulfilled the promises he made to Abraham. The story of Moses is referenced here in Acts in Stephen’s speech to the Jewish Council, and the story of his adoption is so important because it’s how God saved Moses and allowed him to fulfill prophecy.

9. Exodus 22:22

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.” (NIV)

God asks us many times in his word to care for those who are fatherless or orphans and this verse is another example of that. In Exodus, the Lord gave this verse as a command about social responsibility, and he promised to hear the cries of the fatherless and bring justice for them.

10. Matthew 25:40

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (NIV)

Whether we have personally been affected by adoption or not, in the book of Matthew, Jesus shares that when you care for the least of these, you are showing your love for God. 

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Tademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Spiritual Adoption

We can’t talk about adoption without speaking of spiritual adoption and how it relates to us as Christians. Adoption is used often in the Bible not only as a way to discuss biological adoption, but also as a way to express how we have been adopted into the family of God through our salvation.

Romans 8:15 says “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (NIV)

When we receive salvation, we are adopted into the Kingdom of God and we become his sons and daughters. No matter what changes in our lives, our adoption into the Kingdom of God is everlasting and the Lord has promised to love us and care for us from here to eternity. 

what does the bible say about adoption

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