It had been a busy July day for 7-year-old me. I had been on an airplane back from the grand state of Texas, down near the Southern border. My mother had been visiting some of her stores out their and dad and I got to tag along for the small vacation portion of the trip. We had enjoyed ourselves and had eaten well, of course. When we arrived home, the sun was setting and a knock came on our door. When the door opened, some of our family walked in with a baby boy… Truth be told, I’m sure I knew where babies came from at that point, but special delivery had never really been one of the options. From that day on, that baby boy lived with us, and we loved him. He was the roundest baby you have ever seen, and had trouble walking for the longest time because he was a such round baby.
Sometime later, I vaguely remember some legal proceedings, seeing some stress on my parents faces, and a final court date that still didn’t get me out of standardized testing. We all gussied ourselves up and went to the courthouse where the judge declared my brother an official, legal part of our family. (To be clear, he was part of our family the moment we first saw him, but leave it to the legal system to feel like it can declare when that sort of thing happens.)
I watched as my aunt took in foster children and adopt them. Christmas was always exciting there for a while, because we never knew who might be coming! Eventually that family hit its sweet spot, and I count all of those adopted kids as my cousins.
I grew up around adoption, though I haven’t actually been through the process as a parent, yet. I am watching friends go through the process, and their stories are different and wonderful, full of tension, compassion, and hope. I have met mothers who have presented their children for adoption in the hopes of giving that child the best life possible. I have met adopted children all over the world and from all over the world. I have even considered international adoption myself and wear a ring to remind myself of that dream (as well as to remain connected to Asia and China, in particular.)
I have a respect for all sides of the adoption process, from the adoptive parents, to adoptees, to the many counselors, case workers, and administrators that make adoption possible. The idea of adoption is so rich with spiritual implications that it is difficult to pick just a few to touch on.
Consider that adoptive parents have the opportunity to understand more deeply what it means for God to choose us, not on merit, but out of love, compassion, and grace. The adopted child has done nothing to earn adoption and acceptance, but these parents give of their love, space in their heart, and acceptance willingly, and gladly. How great the Father’s love for us, that we are adopted as co-heirs with Jesus, the King!
Take a moment and think about the selflessness of birth parents, who, wanting the best for their child, present as a precious gift this little life to open arms. These are not men and women selfishly removing a child from their lives, but men and women willing to place their trust in other family to raise a child. These parents are not “giving up” in any way, form, or fashion, they are stubbornly, admirably providing for their child in whatever way they can. This is much like when we entrust our lives to God, selflessly placing ourselves in his hands.
And everyone who helps to mediate this process: isn’t Jesus called our mediator? He is the one who bridges the gap between heaven and earth, who makes knowing the Father possible. These counselors, case workers, and other administrative personnel work tirelessly to make this process as smooth as possible.
Regardless of the reasons, participating in the adoption process on either end is an honorable, even holy, action. I say holy with no reservations, because in it, parents are imaging God and telling His story. Adoption, whether being a birth parent, adoptive family, or otherwise, is Kingdom-building work – it is holy work.
I have never personally experienced any negativity on account of my brother and my family’s adoption story, but some friends I know have. I wonder why fellow Christians take issue with adoption, treat birth parents with such contempt, or seem uneasy when the topic is addressed. Perhaps, this is just inexperience talking, a lack of knowledge and empathy.
If you know people involved any any aspect, past, present, or future, of adoption, support them. Encourage them. Listen when they tell their story – theirs are fascinating. Be willing to set aside whatever notions you have and replace them. Be open. Be Jesus.
Does your family have experience with adoption or the foster system? What conversations do you have at home about adoption? Who do you know who is or has been involved in adoption? How can your encourage them this week?