Biola professor discusses the similarities between Christian and non-Christian adoption

Motivation for adopting goes deeper than trendsetting

May. 10, 2012 By Ashleigh Fox

California leads the nation in the adoption count, according to the Intercountry Adoption Bureau of Consular Affairs under the U.S. Department of State. From 1999 to 2011, resident parents brought 16,792 children into their homes, putting the state ahead of New York by 601 children. Biola professor Jason Oakes and his family added to this statistic by adopting two boys, 7 and 6 years old.

The Oakes family did not make this decision for the sake of following a trend. Oakes, assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at Biola, said his motivation to adopt is rooted in “a calling from God” — a phrase that may be unfamiliar to nonreligious persons.

For the last year and a half, Oakes and his wife have been experiencing the adoption process through America World. Typically, the process from making the decision to the actual moment you bring your child into your home takes a lengthy amount of time. Oakes and his family were blessed with a short wait. They left for Ethiopia on Feb. 17, 2012. Their two biological daughters, Damaris and Stella, eagerly awaited the arrival of their new brothers back in the United States.

The two boys were apprehensive when Oakes and his wife came to pick them up. The older sibling, Elias, was especially reserved when they reunited again in Ethiopia for the final time before bringing them home. After nearly ten weeks in the states, though, Elias and Yuni are quickly learning and adjusting to life with the Oakes family [as are the girls, Oakes and his wife, Amanda]. Despite the difficult adjustment of having four kids under the age of nine, Oakes comments, “the Lord has been good and [my wife and I] feel like we are nearly finding out our new normal.”

The adoption list has steadily increased within Southern California, particularly in the celebrity realm. Although some stars have received more recognition than others, adoption continues to be a visibly rising trend among the rich and famous.

For both celebrities and average citizens, the initial motivations of people who choose to adopt are more similar than they may initially appear.

For instance, within the last 10 years, actress Angelina Jolie has been in the spotlight for her decision to adopt children from overseas -- her most recent being a baby girl named Zahara Marley from Ethiopia in 2006. Jolie does not credit any type of deity as one of her motivations to adopt children overseas, but rather sees a need to help those less fortunate.

Oakes and Jolie illustrate two very different central reasons for adoption. Oakes felt he was being led by God to adopt. Jolie felt a need to help others within herself and does not accredit the feeling to any higher power, according to the online bio titled “Angelina Jolie and Religion."

“Some aspects of [adopting] would be similar [between Angelina Jolie and I],” said Oakes. “She sees a need in the world that she realizes she has the means to be able to do something about it, that she has her heart stirred by stories or other things.”

Oakes was also very positive when speaking about Jolie’s motivation behind adopting, even though God played no part in her decision. He stated, “I want to affirm anyone who does good, whatever your motivation for it, and I do think [adopting] is a good thing for people to do. The fact is that, yes, I would like for those children to end up in a Christian home, but the thing we really want is for them to be in a home because they do not have a home right now.”

Written by Ashleigh Fox, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at 562.777.4061 or at


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