If there’s one thing that’s widened and deepened my understanding of God bringing us into his family, it would have to be my family’s adoption of my two youngest siblings. They came home a little more than six years ago, a brother and sister pair from Liberia, West Africa. I have candidly shared their story here
. It is a long story, which is my favorite kind.
Some of the imagery is obvious. It’s the fact that they were destitute and suddenly welcomed into a family wealthy with love. It’s that they were given a future and a hope where they had none. And that they left behind an identity of bondage, given a new name, and now live in freedom and joy. But the symbolism doesn’t stop there.
While every adoption is its own unique story, the overarching theme in every adoption – paralleling our own salvation – is that a new beginning is offered where there was once only a dead end, a story with a plot instead of a discarded draft, and a chance to really belong and be cherished in the home you were made for. Where there’s a commitment to your identity: Who you are is inextricably linked to where you belong.
And most of all, maybe? Adoption starts with the role of the prospective parent. God sought us out first. We can only hope to respond because he reached out first. He made the first move.
Freeman and Joyce couldn’t have been adopted into our family if my parents hadn’t gotten the ball rolling. My parents crazily say again and again that there’s always room for one more – and in this case, two.
this is the last time we were organized enough for a family photo. note I said “organized,” not “cooperative.” there have been 3 more added to the crew since then. we’d like a table for Crazy, party of 20.
But the glue that really holds it together came last October. It was my dad’s birthday. One tradition our family keeps is giving birthday blessings, where we all sit around and shower kind truths on the Birthday Kid (or adult). It’s gotten a lot louder over the years, and more chaotic, as more kids – and grandkids – have been added into the picture. To give you an idea, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to hear, “Shut your mouth, it’s my turn to say something nice!” But I digress.
Anyway, last October, we were gathered for my dad’s birthday and it was Freeman’s turn to pipe up. “Happy birthday, Dad,” he began. “I’ve been in America for the same amount of time I was in Liberia, and what I’d like to tell you is that if I had to pick now, I would choose you to be my dad.“
Yes. That was it. The last piece coming together in demonstrating the adoption was complete. Final.
I choose you back.
I’ll be in your family.
We’ll want each other.
It’s not always that easy or tidy. This is just one sweet story in a process that consumed every minute of the years leading up to that point and has swallowed up all the minutes since. Close to half of my friends around the globe have gone through the adoption process, and each story is different. As it should be. Bonding looks unique for each child in each family. The topic of bonding leads the pack in adoption books and conferences and resources. Without the bond, the shared name is simply a legality, the shared home is only a formality, and the sense of belonging isn’t truly a reality.
Bonding has to happen. The legal process isn’t what makes it official. It’s the relationship. The choosing of each other.
That’s something that’s harder to grasp as a biological child. I wasn’t grafted in. The bond didn’t have to be manufactured. And being manufactured doesn’t make it any less authentic; it simply speaks of the extra intentionality required. And that intentionality comes at the cost of investment of all parties involved.
The first move has been made. The Father opens his family. I have made a way for you to be mine. Will you let me be your Daddy? Will you choose me back?