The other day I made up a silly little song and sang it to my nine-year-old: “She’s my daughter! She’s my daughter! So glad we bought her, ‘cause she’s my daughter!” She scowled and said, “I knew somebody was adopted. But I thought it was Anna.”
That’s going into my end-of-year Christmas letter, by the way.
I wonder if anyone who hasn’t experienced adoption can really grasp what it means to be orphaned, to live severed from any connection to kinship, and then to be welcomed into a family and granted full rights as a child within it. I know I can’t wrap my head around that.
But when I look at it from the other side—from the perspective of the one doing the adopting—it’s even harder to make sense of.
When parents adopt a child, they typically don’t know that much about the kiddo. From what kind of lineage does s/he come? What character and physical and medical traits accompany that lineage? What sort of personality will the child develop? What might s/he be when grown up? All of this is a mystery.
When God adopts us, of course, he knows all of that stuff. But if we’re honest, most of it is crap when he first takes us in. We’re all damaged, and we come from damaged families, and our futures (without God’s hand in them) are statistically damage-prone as well.
So why do parents adopt? Why does God want to adopt us?
I think it’s for the sheer pleasure of loving. We want to give to another out of the abundance of our own lives. In material terms, children bring nothing but pain and drain to a family’s sleep, finances, schedule, and space. Kids tax parents to an extraordinary degree. Yet—providing there is no deep dysfunction happening—children are deeply cherished.
I have been adopted into the family of God, through Christ, for no other reason than the pure and unconditional love of God. He loved me before I knew him. Which means he forgave me before I asked him to.
It’s time I began to act like my Father.
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…you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [and daughters], by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!
– Romans 8:15
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