When I was in fourth grade, I went through an adoption proceeding. Because of family circumstances that were less common in North Dakota in the 70s and 80s than they are now, my biological father had agreed to give up his legal rights to my brother and me so that Rick could adopt us. This is a subject for a later post because it is a much different view than what is bouncing around in my head right now. Over the years, possibly because of that experience, adoption has fascinated me.
As we saw many trick or treating families come through our church parking lot last night at Faith’s annual “Trunk or Treat” event, there were some families that had obviously adopted children. This is not hard to tell when a Caucasian family has a Chinese daughter or a Honduran sibling set. Alternatively, some are less obvious because the children have the same skin color as their parents. However, connections that I have with some families who came through the parking lot give me knowledge that their children have been adopted into their family.
The concept of adoption fascinates me. What fascinates me even more is the awkward language that we use to explain adoption concepts. We have “biological parents” and “adoptive parents.” We have “parents of origin” and “life families.” We have our “biological children” and our “entire families.” Each year the language seems to change and how we define this fascinating concept changes. The more adoption occurs, the more we want to normalize it for the sake of the children and for the sake of the families themselves.
As an outsider looking in, though, I want to state that adoption is not normal. This is not to say that it is not a good thing. In fact, the very idea that adoption is not normal is to say that it is extraordinary.
Adoption of children requires a need. Adoption, by its very nature, shows the ultimate human separation of child from mother or father. Children around the world and here in our own country experience separation from their birth mothers and fathers every moment of every day. Child limitation laws in China force women to choose between abortion or abandonment – especially of daughters. Civil wars in foreign countries have lefts countless children without their parents. Women or young girls in America choose to give up their child for as many reasons as I have fingers. Children are removed from homes because their parents make wrong personal or parenting choices. Each child has his or her own tragic story; none of their stories start out well. The reasons that adoption exists are tragic.
And then something amazing happens in many of these children’s lives. They are adopted! Someone who was uniquely designed to parent a specific child who has a specific situation says, “Yes! I will adopt a child.” This is amazing…what a gift! It is amazing for someone to say, “I will love this child out of her circumstances, through the needs that arise from those circumstances, and beyond whatever happens because of the circumstances from where she comes…even if she rejects me sometime in the future, I will love her.” This is extraordinary love.
What fascinates me the most about adoption is that God seems to replicate what He does for humanity through the cross of Christ in the lives of children and families. The same love that it takes for one to say, “I will adopt this child!” is the same love that God had for us when He sent His own…His ONLY…son to the cross to save each of us – individually and collectively – from our human, sinful state. Not all children in the world need adoption, but we all need adoption through the cross of Christ. These children’s lives are changed. Redemption of their story occurs when a judge signs the adoption papers. God is all about redemption; He created the business and carries it out in many different ways.
Adoption is one of those very obvious ways.
Challenge: Although not everyone can or should adopt or be foster parents, we all can support those who do. How could we do that today?