My wife Kathy and I have five of the most wonderful children in the world. Our oldest three children (Camden, Brady, and Amelia) are ours biologically and our youngest two children (Charlotte and Luke) were adopted from China.
Adoption has been a wonderful experience for our family and we know that Charlotte and Luke will (and are) be blessed by it throughout the remainder of their lives as well.
As Christians, Kathy and I both had our eyes opened to the beauty of spiritual adoption, simply because we’ve gone through the process of earthly adoption. As a Christian, I can understand the basics of adoption as taught in Scripture, but for me, spiritual adoption truly became alive due to our earthly adoption of Charlotte and Luke.
The Bible speaks about adoption so often because adoption is close to the heart of God. After all, God only has one “biological” Son (Jesus Christ), yet He has millions of adopted children.
Here are eight things we (my wife gets all the credit for originally putting this list together, by the way) have learned regarding our spiritual adoption into God’s family, purely because we adopted two children into our earthly family.
1) The person being adopted is helpless to do anything to change the condition/state they are in.
Charlotte & Luke were totally incapable of doing anything to rescue themselves out of their hopeless condition. They were stuck. They had no power, no resources, and no contacts. They were literally abandoned at the door of an orphanage. In fact, because they were found only days after being born, they couldn’t even comprehend the desperation of their situation, let alone help themselves. Spiritually speaking, we’re all dead in our trespasses and sins and are totally depraved. It is only God’s plan and merciful act of adoption that gives us spiritual life. God’s redemption and adoption of us as children demonstrates His compassionate, sacrificial love. A love that we are unable to reciprocate or pay back. (James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress…“)
2) The person being adopted is not more deserving than anyone else in their circumstances.
Just as the child who is adopted is not more deserving of entering into a family than any other child, we are not more deserving of God’s grace than any other human being. In fact, no one is worthy of God’s grace. It is by God’s grace alone that we have been called out of darkness and into the light. (Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God“)
3) The person being adopted will never fully comprehend the life that they have been saved from.
Charlotte and Luke will never fully comprehend the life they were saved from by being adopted into our family. They’ll never have to experience the negative stigma that adopted people in China endure regularly, such as being constantly denied employment because orphans are considered ”unlucky.” They will never experience the lonely, hopeless, and loveless existence that would have been theirs had they not been adopted. In a similar way, Christians will never fully comprehend the eternal wrath we were saved from by being adopted into God’s family. Because of our redemption and God-given faith, we will never know the horrors of hell. As believers in God through repentant faith in Christ, we’ll never be separated from the love of God. (1 John 1:3 “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God“)
4) The person who is adopted is chosen by their parents.
Even biological children never chose their parents! Charlotte and Luke never contacted us to see if we would adopt them and they had no idea that we were preparing to travel half way around the world just to pick them up. Because Charlotte and Luke have “Special Needs” (don’t we all?), they were on a list and we specifically chose them from that list. We intentionally picked them from all the other “Special Needs” children on that list to come into our “forever” family. We knew about their deficiencies beforehand and loved them as much as our own biological children. The Bible says that we were saved and adopted as God’s children even while we were yet sinners. Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. He predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.“
5) The adopted child has an intimate relationship with parents, something they did not have prior to adoption.
Charlotte and Luke never felt the tender affections of a mother or a father. They never called for their “Momma” or “Dadda” while in the orphanage. In fact, they were always competing against the dozens of other children at the orphanage for the “temporary” affections of a paid nanny. And if they ever received those coveted moments of human touch, it was only to have their diaper changed. Hardly what you might call a loving parent/child relationship. Romans 8:15-17 says, “…you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! [Daddy!] Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…“
6) The person adopting needs to be qualified and able to redeem, but must also be willing.
Kathy and I had to endure over a full year of paperwork gathering and preparation, interviews, homestudies, and meetings for each adopted child. During that process many state and government agencies (both foreign and domestic) were checking our history, fingerprints, documents, and qualifications. We had to have enough finances, demonstrate a willingness to bring “Special Needs” children into our family, and produce dozens and dozens of records showing that we are reliable and responsible. Spiritually speaking, only God alone is worthy to receive any praise, honor, or glory. He alone is worthy, qualified, and able to redeem us back to Himself. No angel or other created being in the universe was qualified to redeem humanity. Only God could do it, and according to His marvelous grace, He did. As God in the flesh, Jesus Christ is the only one qualified, able, and willing to redeem us for Himself.
7) Adoption is not an easy task and it is very costly to the one who undertakes it.
The adoption process for both Charlotte and Luke was lengthy. Charlotte’s adoption took 14 months and Luke’s took 12 months. It cost many thousands of dollars to adopt each of them. It was also a challenging process emotionally. There were long waits, disappointments, and sometimes even closed doors. Similarly, our adoption into the family of God was quite costly. Costly to Him, that is. It required God’s Son–Jesus Christ–having to leave His heavenly glory, take on the form of a Man, and shed His blood on the cross. It was this priceless act of love that opened the door for us to enter the family of God. And it was all by grace alone. (John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.“)
8) The very act of adoption itself yields great joy to the one doing the adopting.
Adopting Charlotte and Luke has given Kathy and me great joy. Knowing that we love them both and will care for their needs gives us tremendous satisfaction. Knowing that they’ll be with us, cared for by us, hear the gospel from us over and over again, attend church with us, and read God’s Bible gives us abundant happiness. Knowing that we’ve removed them from both a painful childhood and a troubled future has also given us a great feeling of being used by God. It’s not their potential reciprocation that caused us to do this for them, but knowing that we were available and able to do it for them. From a spiritual perspective, God’s own act of redemption gives Him immense joy, glory, and eternal satisfaction. God can be pleased in us and through us, but never does He need us. He didn’t adopt us to better Himself or to make Himself more happy. Our spiritual adoption provided us with everything and added absolutely nothing to Him. Our heavenly Father takes joy in simply being compassionate to others. He adopted us into His family purely because He is an awesome and loving Father. (Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.“)
How wonderful is that!