In the spirit of Valentines Day, I thought I’d write about adoption! This may sound strange at first, but Valentines Day is the day the adoption of our son became final. It is a day that has been celebrated in our house as his second birthday since he found out he was adopted in the third grade.
Insert. Traumatic. Flashback. Here. Telling Adrian he was adopted was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I would have gone his whole life with him thinking I was his birth mother because in my heart I actually am. Adrian was having some very serious problems and a counselor told us we had to tell him, a fact I knew was inevitable and long overdue. In preparation for telling him, we read all the books, planned a special evening, and thought of all the right things to say. Everything appeared to go smoothly but you could see the wheels in his head turning. We suspected leading up to this that Adrian knew something but this made it official. I felt so sick about it. I would have gone our whole lives living in denial and never having to face this hard truth.
It didn’t matter what our intention was leading into this, or what the truth was regarding our unconditional love for Adrian, or the life we knew he would have been subjected to in the alternative, he was inevitably going to have some struggles with this knowledge of being adopted – the feelings of abandonment, wonder of what life would have been like, feelings of being loved differently, favoritism, you name it. All of this compounded with the fact that Adrian is not a talker. He doesn’t share his feelings and the more I pried, the tighter he held onto them. As he’s grown older, I think he’s grown to see and appreciate the life he has versus the life he would have had. I truly believe he loves us as his parents no different than if I had birthed him, but that will never erase the lingering wonder in the back of his mind about all the unknowns.
And the bottom line is, there are real differences between our son and our daughter (but not in our love for them). Lexi will never have to wonder what her biological mother is like, what her life would have been like IF ONLY, she will never have to struggle with feelings of abandonment, and we will never have to prepare ourselves for the impending meeting that is just around the corner between Adrian and Ashley. In like, there are things in this life that we will have to face as Christians that non-believers will not – because we’ve been adopted into the Kingdom of Christ as heirs to Heaven. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17)
Just as I feel Adrian struggles with being adopted from time to time, as much as he knows we love him, I think we as Christians also struggle as adopted sons and daughters. Sometimes it’s because we have a hard time accepting and feeling worthy of the unconditional love of God. Sometimes it’s because we hold on to this world and continue to live in denial. I would venture as far as saying we even want to live in denial because it’s easier. We are afraid to fully submerge ourselves in the inheritance of the Kingdom we have been freely given because of all the lingering wonders of what we’re missing out on, what it will cost us.
As strong as I believe my faith is, it has crossed my mind on occasion (usually when things are difficult) that it would be so much easier, not to deny Christ, but to just live in this world and not have to strive so much to live up to what I am called to be as a Christian. It’s like when I have to discipline Adrian and I always wonder if his mind goes right to wishing he wasn’t adopted. But…just as disciplining is a part of parenting, refining is a part of faith. Just as I cannot avoid disciplining Adrian just because he doesn’t like it, we Christians cannot avoid difficulties in this life. “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)
I can tell you on a personal note I’ve struggled with the idea of God being a Father to me because I didn’t have the best examples growing up. I’ve had 3 father figures in my life: 1) my actual biological father, who was absent all but one year of my life, who I’m just now reconnecting with at the age of 35; 2) my uncle (by marriage), whom I lived with from the age of 12 to 18, who’s love has been anything but unconditional, who has belittled me and thrown me away like trash; 3) an amazing “step” father who, despite never having actually married my mother and not knowing anything about being a father when he first entered my life, did his very best, who’s care I was in for only a short time, but who has remained in my life out of genuine love with no obligation. Even still, he was a father figure from a distance, by no fault of his own.
When people/church/small groups/etc. would pose the question, “who is God to you?” I would always answer the obvious “Father” because I was lacking one in my life so of course that’s the void He filled. One time recently when that same question was asked, I answered that same exact way and it immediately struck me, if my image of what a father is is what I’ve experienced throughout my childhood, I didn’t want to project that on God. I’ve had to really evaluate what I mean (or what I should mean and believe) when I say that God is my Father and, luckily, I’ve been blessed with an amazing husband who has changed my view of fathers by the kind he’s been to our children.
How many people go through this life blissfully ignorant of the fact that they are sons and daughters of Christ, with an unfathomable inheritance awaiting them on the other side of this life that they have no access to until they wake up and face the truth, as difficult as the truth may be to face. “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:10-13)