My daughter’s birthday was this month. She just turned fourteen, and all those songs, poems, stories and visual dramas treating the pathos of the passage of time in the lives of our children, they are all true. The day before yesterday, she would fit on my forearm. Yesterday she started school in Germany. Three seconds ago, she turned 14. And as soon as I blink my eyes twice, she will be driving…maybe going to university, maybe going into ministry, maybe getting married….
Those who know us in real life know that we adopted her in 2008. She was born in 2007, and we had received her as a foster child when she was three days old. Her arrival into our house was an answer to years of prayer, some of it prayed in front of that cross in the image above. Those prayers in turn came at the end of three years of seeking adoption, paying out thousands of dollars, sending letters, getting stacks of documents approved by state and federal authorities, and being disappointed over and over again until we were graced with Felicia.
It is often said, especially in Christian circles, that adoption is the act of finding a child who does not otherwise have a stable, safe and even sane, family situation a „forever family“. That is certainly the desire of all adopting parents. Adoption must be forever, the affections and love of adopting parents as real and enduring as those of the best biological parents. It is the profound and beautiful responsibility of all adopting parents to make that proposition real in the lives of the children they adopt. For believers, this is to be thought of as another expression of the parental love of God on Earth.
There have been scores of books written exploring the nature of adoption, its reality as a picture of our relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who is incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. One of the best, I think is this one by Gilbert Meilaender:
I won’t go into a detailed summary of the book’s core thoughts here except for one: The love of adoptive parents for adopted children absolutely must be as real, as deep, as strong as the love of parents for their children conceived and born naturally because your salvation, if you have placed your trust in the crucified and resurrected Messiah Jesus, is predicated completely on that equation. God the father loves you as He loves Jesus the son.
Well, it had better. Our eternal salvation depends on it. Paul gets on this point twice Romans Chapter Eight, first here:
14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
And these are just two of several verses in the Pauline epistles which use adoption as a metaphor for our new life in Christ. Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5 also use this image of God’s love and acceptance of those who put their faith in Jesus as being the kind of love seen in adoption. This places before adoptive parents both a challenge and the responsibility to live as best they can in accord with this supernatural reality. We adoptive parents are all of us imperfect in living out this beautiful responsiblity with the adoptive children the Lord and the birth parents have entrusted to us. Over the years, I’ve heard the question from persons either curious or unwise, „Can you love a child who is not your blood?“ Yes, you can, and if you doubt it, you must perforce doubt the veracity of the Biblical promises that God loves and accepts you as His child. With precisely one exception, God has only adopted children.
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