In August of last year (2016) God laid it on my wife’s heart to begin the process of adopting a little girl. I’ll be honest here and say from the onset that this is something we both agreed we would NOT do. God has blessed us with 3 healthy biological daughters and expanding our family was not something we were actively pursuing. However, God has a way of changing our minds and hearts. I agreed to pray…hesitantly. There have been times when I’ve had to search for God’s direction pretty hard and even after making the decision was questioning: “Is this really the correct choice?” This was NOT one of those times. As I set out to pray for the first time, I couldn’t even finish the question. It was as if God threw in the penalty flag, stopped me dead in my tracks, and asked “Really, is this really something you have to ask direction on?” Within a matter of days we were bringing Mia Gabriela home with us. What a contrast to our ride home with our first-born! Anyone who has children remembers that first car-ride home from the hospital; never have you driven so cautiously than with this fragile little life carefully placed into a car seat. The day we brought Gaby home we had 6 extra passengers in our 5 passenger vehicle, not counting ourselves (yep, that makes a grand total of 8). For any of you familiar with Dominican traffic, you’ll understand when I say that cautious isn’t really a thing on the road here…imagine driving through the set of Mad Max and you’ll have a pretty good idea. The fact is that adopting a child is very different from giving birth to one, but that doesn’t make her any less our child.
It’s pretty awesome to hear this child that looks nothing like us and sounds nothing like us call us: mom/dad. This didn’t happen immediately, it took some time, and it was actually a bigger deal to me than I would’ve thought. To me, this signified her acceptance of us as parents. We brought her into our family, and for us, she was immediately our child. However, her acceptance of this was and is extremely important to us. When she began calling us mom/dad, for me, it felt as if she had officially accepted her place in our family. This brought to life one of my favorite verses: God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure – Ephesians 1:5. I have pulled great comfort from this verse in the past because it defines my identity. I am a chosen child of God and nothing can change that. God has paved the way, paid the price, and prepared a place for me in His family. However, after doing all this, He does not force me to take that place. It is up to me to accept it. He waited for me to call Him, Father. Here in lies one of the many differences with adoption…both sides must be in agreement. Our biological children had no choice in the matter. They were born into this family and know nothing else. There are certain days that I’m sure they wish for different parents, but that’s another topic. Gaby, on the other hand, is 11 years old and has a voice. If she had rejected her place in our family, we would not have forced her to stay. Opening a place in our family for her was a great feeling for us, but the real joy has been in watching her open up to us and begin to accept her place in this family.
So, this is where the second part of the verse has new meaning for me: This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure. The creator and God of the universe wants to adopt ME! And what’s more, He doesn’t do it out of a sense of pity or obligation, He does it because it gives Him pleasure. I believe the pleasure comes from our acceptance of the place He has prepared in his own family. The Bible speaks of great rejoicing in Heaven when even one person accepts their rightful place (Luke 15:10). This is the moment when an adopted child of God decides to call Him, Father. Let’s make sure we understand what we’re talking about here. We talk a great deal about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and rightly so. Jesus paid a price that we could not pay. However, God did not stop at salvation, he adopted us into the royal family. Once again, I compare this to our own experience. Preparing to adopt Gaby has been quite a process (one that will last for a couple more years). The investment of funds and time has been large. The preparation has been costly, but it is necessary. We’ve happily done what we’ve needed to do, but the JOY has come through watching her slowly but surely accept that she is a part of this family. It has come through watching her begin to do things the way we do things, and even hearing this Spanish-speaking child learn to speak English with a southern accent. The joy comes from knowing that she wants to be here; not because she has to be, but because she was given the option and she chose to accept.
The fact is, we are all faced with that same decision and the implications are huge. There was a great price paid for each of us. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners – Romans 5:8. God has paid the price, he has prepared the place and awaits the joy of your acceptance. The choice is yours. You can choose to take your rightful place in God’s family for eternity, but He will not force you if you reject it. You have been adopted! You are a child of God! The question is, will Heaven rejoice because you’ve called Him, Father?