The Bible describes the Christian’s new relationship with God in many different, often familial, ways. For example, Christians are “sons and daughters” of God (2 Cor 6:18), they are the bride of Christ (Eph 5:32), and Jesus is our king yet also our brother (Heb 2:11).
When Christians get married they often deepen their understanding of what it means to be the bride of Christ. When Christians have children they usually learn new facets of what it means to be a child of God, and so on.
The Christian is not a “biological” son or daughter of God, but the Bible describes the Christian’s relationship as one who has been adopted (Rom 8:15). And so, similarly, for those who have adopted, it is not unlikely that they will be given particular insight into this spiritual reality.
While we have never yet adopted, my wife and I have been licensed foster parents and have done a few stints of respite care. Through one of these seasons of offering respite care, God was kind to teach me, in spite of my horrid sin, a profound lesson regarding my own adoption.
A few years ago, with two boys of our own, we accepted a call to take a little girl into our home indefinitely until they could find a permanent foster/adoptive home for her. She was between the ages of our two boys.
She was full of energy, and the boys loved playing with her, and relatively speaking she was no trouble at all. Though, as someone new to our home, she did not know all the household “rules,” she found taking naps difficult—no doubt owing to the new environment—and, simply being a kid, oftentimes she would break things.
I began to find myself getting agitated and would think awful, sinful, selfish, and entitled things like:
“Why doesn’t she get it that we don’t do that here?” “My boys don’t do that”
“She is in my house, eating my food, that I bought, breaking my son’s toys, drinking out of my cups, using my cutlery, sleeping in my son’s bed…” etc. etc.
And then I’d begrudge, irrationally, the ways she was different: “its because she’s a girl, we only have boys around here” or “she’s not an Atkinson” or “its because she’s a different ethnicity” etc.
And then, one day, the Lord penetrated my heart with His truth and graciously showed me my folly and sin.
It was as if he said:
Did you act like my Son when I adopted you? Did you know all the rules of my house and keep them from day one of your adoption? You still don’t even act like my Son! Do you think you look like my Son? Are you the same ethnicity as my Son? And yet, do I not give you all the things that are my Son’s? Are they not all yours? Are you not a co-heir with my Son? Do you think there was no cost or sacrifice to your adoption? Look at the cross!
The difference between you and my Son is infinitely bigger than any difference between this girl and your boys. The disruption you caused within my house when I adopted you was immeasurably greater than any discomfort she has caused you. The personal cost to you in bringing her into your home cannot even be compared with the cost I paid to bring you into my home. I willingly adopted you in love, and yet you would begrudge? Freely you have received, now freely give.
It was like my own personal “Job” moment: “…therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).
Foster care and adoption are not easy, but they greatly display the gospel of the loving, compassionate, slow-to-anger, merciful, and gracious God. May Christian foster and adoptive parents repent when they stumble, find strength through the reality of their own adoption to love sacrificially, and point everyone to the great Adopter.