5 Examples of Adoption in the Bible

Megan Moore

Contributing Writer
Updated Oct 03, 2022
5 Examples of Adoption in the Bible

There is no adoption on earth like the adoption of us by our Creator. This is a supernatural event, bigger and better and more meaningful than all of our earthly stories.

The Bible makes it clear that God cares for people who have lost families, and He calls us to do the same. Multiple Bible verses tell us that God defends the weak. “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18). “You are the helper of the fatherless. Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more” (Psalms 10:14,17-18). “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5).

Other verses command us to do the same. “Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get justice” (Proverbs 31:8-9). “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” (Psalm 82:3)

We know that families and adoption matter to God, so let’s take a look at some examples of adoption in the Bible:

1. Moses (Exodus 2:1-10)

When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, Pharaoh and the Egyptians became increasingly afraid of the power and growth of the Israelites. Pharaoh ordered that all Hebrew baby boys be killed at birth and thrown into the Nile, but the midwives feared God and did not obey.

One brave mother hid her son for three months. When he grew to the point where she could no longer hide him, she created a safe basket for him and placed him in the reeds along the side of the Nile River. Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing in the river when she found the baby in the basket. Needing a wet nurse, the baby’s birth mother was able to care for him until he was older. Once weaned, the boy was taken to Pharaoh’s daughter to be her son, and she named him Moses. 

This kind of adoption is representative of many adoptions that still occur today. Moses’ birth mother gave him to Pharaoh's daughter because she felt she had no other choice. Many parents still face this same thing. They may lack resources or opportunities or live in a country where their child would not be accepted; nonetheless, they value the life of their child and are brave enough to place their baby in the safer hands of another. 

2. Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-28)

Hannah had a son, Samuel, whom she had desperately prayed for. She made a vow to God that she would give her son to the Lord for all the days of his life. In this situation, Eli, the priest, would raise and train Samuel. As a child dedicated to the Lord, Samuel had to be set apart and learn to minister under the priest as he grew, which he did in Eli’s home. 

This type of adoption may seem like it doesn’t apply to today’s world as much, but, in a way, it does. Not only did Hannah fulfill her promise to the Lord, but she also allowed Eli to raise Samuel because of the opportunity it provided for Samuel’s life and education. Many parents around the world seek adoption as a way to better the lives of their children. People make this heartbreaking decision daily due to poverty, health, safety, and other challenges. 

3. Esther (Esther 2:7)

This one verse tells us all that we know about Esther’s birth family: “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 mother and father died.” 

Esther’s adoption story is an example of a “true” orphan–a child who has lost her parents. Today, many children worldwide have lost their parents, often due to disease or war, and they need a family. Esther’s story also provides an example of a family adoption, which still occurs today, with grandparents or aunts and uncles raising children. 

4. Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25)

Jesus was not an orphan in the traditional sense of the word, but he was “adopted” by his stepfather, Joseph. In the book of Matthew, we read that Joseph had, upon learning that Mary was pregnant, planned to divorce her quietly. However, Joseph had a dream in which an angel of the Lord told him not to be afraid. Joseph clung to this message and followed through with his wedding vows. We don’t know much more about Joseph from the Bible, but we do know that he gave his son the name Jesus (Matthew 1:25) and raised him in the Jewish tradition by presenting him in the temple (Luke 2:22) and traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (Luke 2:41-50).

Joseph is an example of step-parent adoption, but it is also more. This is a beautiful example for us. Just as God adopts us as His children, Jesus was adopted by Joseph. It is profoundly symbolic that Jesus was given an earthly Father so that we could have access to our Heavenly Father. 

5. Us!

Our adoption as God’s children is not one story; rather, it is a theme throughout the entire Bible. There are specific verses, however, that speak clearly of our adoption. 2 Corinthians 6:18 tells us, “‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” John tells us how easy it is on our part for this adoption to occur: “...to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” 

The book of Galatians says, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:4-5). Paul writes in Romans that this adoption puts us fully in the family of God, with the benefit of calling God “Father," naming us co-heirs with Christ. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in dear again; rahter, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs– heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (Romans 8:14-17).

There is no adoption on earth like the adoption of us by our Creator. This is a supernatural event, bigger and better and more meaningful than all of our earthly stories. This is the only adoption that seals us for eternity and unites us with our Father in heaven! 

"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds." (Psalm 9:1)

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Ridofranz

Megan Moore is a military spouse and mom of 3 (through birth and adoption). A speech-language pathologist by training, she now spends her time moving around the country every couple of years. She is passionate about special needs, adoption, and ice cream.