I've also been thinking a lot about how I love how God has formed our family. I love knowing that God brought each of our children to us in just the right way, at just the right time. In some ways the old cliche about how if we only knew what God had in store for us in the future we would wait more patiently, is true. We had no idea during those years of waiting what great things God had in store for us. I love too that our kids will see and experience first hand the different ways that God forms families and His goodness in that.
We've been told over and over again about how kids who were adopted often face different trials and struggles related to their adoption throughout life. I know that this can be the case, but honestly I've wrestled with how to prepare for that while at the same not wanting my kids identitity to be completely wrapped up in the fact that they were adopted.
This thought hit me again the other day in the grocery store (you might be surprised by just how many adoption conversations I've had in grocery stores over the last year). I generally don't "advertise" that we adopted, however it's that sticky question of "Oh, do they look like their Dad?" that brings it up every time. In this particular instance, when the checker asked if they looked like my husband and I explained that we had adopted she responded by saying that she was also adopted. To which the girl bagging exclaimed, "What!? I didn't know that! I feel like I don't know you at all!"
Ok, maybe it's just me, but it hit me as an odd comment. Although said with (what seemed like) the best of intentions, the implication was that this woman was somehow a different person, or perhaps had even set up a false impression of herself because she hadn't broadcast the fact that she had been adopted.
I've been mulling this incident over the last couple weeks and thinking through how the Bible talks about adoption in regards to our identity. Here's a few key points scripture makes about adoption:
In Love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the beloved. Ephesians 1:5-6 (ESV)To the praise and glory of God, he chose us purposefully and specifically before hand that we would be his children. And the way that he chose to do that was through adoption.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15 (ESV)Christ came to redeem us so that we could receive adoption, while the "Spirit of his Son" or the "Spirit of adoption" gives us confidence and assurance that we are children of God and helps us to cry out to him as our Father and Daddy. As I've searched Scripture and studied adoption over the course of the last couple years and again in the last few weeks, I keep coming back to the fact that adoption is always mentioned in conjunction with God's redeeming work in salvation. Everywhere else we are simply called the "children of God."
There is never a reference to us as "the adopted children of God" and I think that is key. You see adoption is not my identity as a child of God. Adoption is how I became a part of the family. It's a past tense, finished and done with, act of God's redeeming work in my life.
Is it an amazing way that God chose to redeem his children? Absolutely, and it is a doctrine of the faith greatly to be rejoiced in! But does it define us as the children of God? No! Once completed the Spirit works to give us confidence to approach the throne of God as beloved children confident in their position and eagerly awaiting the promised inheritance that is ours (Ephesians 1:5-14).
That right there is what I want my kids to know: adoption is how they got here. It's how they became a part of this family. But it is not who they are. It does not define them.
Will they have questions about their adoption? I'm sure that they will. But my prayer and desire is that they would also feel assured and confident in our love for them, knowing that they are a Daughter and Son who are loved by us and by God.