Children of Adoption

Adoption is beautiful.

I have a number of friends going through the process right now – from those waiting for notice that they are going to be parents, to those waiting to receive their child, to those who have recently returned home with their family now numbering three (as opposed to two).

Of course, I personally don’t know anything about adoption. My parents did not adopt me nor did my wife and I adopt our daughter. But following the progress of my friends’ adoption process is entirely absorbing. Seeing their deep love for these children whom they have yet to meet, is stunning. They expend huge amounts of money and time in preparing their dossiers, securing the proper legal forms and permissions, purchasing flights (if the child is far away) and otherwise being put though the emotional wringer. And here’s the real kicker, they do this knowing full well that, even if everything goes as well as possible, these children will try their patience, exasperate them, and maybe even hurt them – emotionally or physically…because they are just like every other child. That’s love.

I want to affirm these friends in the strongest possible way: in undertaking the process of adoption they participate in the work of God. Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood: I don’t want to perpetuate the image of the helpless-child-rescued-by-the-beneficent-saviors. I don’t think that an adopted child owes their parents any more gratitude and appreciation than a biological child. Nevertheless, caring for those who cannot care for themselves is part of what the New Testament author of James called “pure and undefiled religion” (1:27). And, further, adoption is precisely the language the Bible uses for the Christian’s relation to God.

First, according to the apostle Paul, the people of Israel were adopted by God (Roman 9:4). According to some scholars, the decisive act of adoption occurred in the Exodus, when God brought his “firstborn” (Exodus 4:22-23) out of
servitude and into freedom. Importantly, however, this freedom was not one of autonomy but one of theonomy (for those who know their Greek word roots), or better, one of freedom in relationship with God. Of course, this relationship was not always flawless. As the majority of the Old Testament attests, Israel caused God much pain.

Second, Paul states that Christians have received “the Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15) which makes us God’s children (Galatians 4:5). This “Spirit of adoption”, which Paul significantly contrasts with a Spirit of slavery in reference to the Exodus, is also one of relation with God to whom Christians can cry out as a child to their father (Romans 8:15). For Paul, adoption by God is a moment of redemption, the promise of new life and renewed relationship with God.

While the analogy between the New Testament adoption imagery and the adoption process my friends are going though is not perfect, there is a significant connection. In both cases adoption brings a child in need into a nurturing relationship. In both cases, adoption brings with it the promise of pain. In both cases, one factor far out-weighs all others: unconditional parental love.

Ben Edsall

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9 responses to “Children of Adoption

  1. Yes, I agree, there is nothing quite like a parents love for their children which is only a small example of how much God loves each of us! Having children helped me understand God’s love a little better.
    I am very thankful for those couples who adopt and love children who may not have someone to love them unconditionally!
    Thanks Ben and Deanna for being such awesome parents too!! :)

  2. I read an article recently, a puff piece on one of the many “recent studies” that pervade the news these days, on how people with kids aren’t as happy as people without kids. Your article reminds me that happiness on earth is not the ultimate good. Parenting might make us more stressed, tired, worried, and impatient, but it shows us God’s character and His great patience.

    • I totally agree that the myth that my happiness is the greatest good is deeply problematic and leads to narcissistic selfishness. Although, I always wonder when reading those studies how one measures “happiness” and who runs the tests? I think it matters whether those who design and run such surveys are single, married, parents, and how their relationships are with their spouse or children. Also, how old are those they are interviewing? Are they old people who have lived a full life after raising children or are they families living with small children and no sleep? So many questions.

  3. We have two families at our church right now who foster kids, have adopted kids, and have had biological kids. These amazing families are a constant reminder to me of the wealth of love that is available to us, as we are adopted into the family of God.

    One family has two adult children, and have now adopted two sets of twins and have two foster children that will likely be with them for the rest of their lives – six kids in the house under the age of five! And their Mum just told me that she nearly took another baby this week – if there was no where else for the child to go, she would have (the only reason she didn’t was because there is no more room in her van, and no more seats at her table). THAT is how big the father’s heart is. Only the father’s van doesn’t have limited seats, and his table is larger and more bountiful than we could ever imagine.

  4. Pingback: The Epic Story, Part I « Wondering Fair·

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