Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Adoptive Dad, Adoptive God

I am an adoptive father of two young boys, five and two. The bible speaks of God's children as being adopted by God. In reflecting on my relationship with my sons, I think I've gained an insight into our relationship with God that I wouldn't have if I had never adopted any children.

Most children are natural, biological children. My wife is pregnant, so we hope to have a biological child four or five months from now. Most naturally born children are born to their parents without the intent to bear that specific child at that specific time. For a lack of a better term, the birth is "accidental" to what caused the birth, namely the union between a man and woman. That is to say, child bearing is not the primary purpose of the sexual union. God did not say, "man needs somebody to bear children for him," He said, "it is not good that man be alone." In addition, many acts of intimacy may result in few or no children at all, and there is no control over each one as to whether children will result, and children may not even be on the mind of the parents at the time.

In our adoptions, on the other hand, each child was a direct, one-to-one correlation of our decision to adopt them. We want this specific child to be a part of our family. This child already exists, and we can love him ahead of time, and even know who he is.

Our children being so young, they have a limited capacity to understand their adoptions. Our oldest was adopted before he turned two. Our youngest was adopted at birth, and at just two years old, he has no clue at all. We've decided to be open and up front toward our children about their adoptions. God is that way with us. But the ability for young children to understand that they lived with another family before ours, or that they grew in another mommy's tummy and not our mommy's tummy (the mommy they know), is limited, and sometimes funny. Our oldest had said some fairly funny things in repeating his adoption story back at various times. In terms of adult thinking, these things are wrong, but we know he's only a child, so we have mercy and take it with a light hearted attitude.

But our ability to understand God's adopting of us can also be limited. We can have skewed ideas about our adoption into God's family, and where we were beforehand. We can say things about God as our Father that aren't quite right, or maybe even very wrong. But does that make us any less children of God? Hopefully as we grow in our Christian lives, we will gain a much better understanding. When my children don't comprehend their adoptions, are they any less my children? Of course not. I still love them even if they say goofy things about it. I think I've learned to be more forgiving about other Christians who don't understand things the way I do, in part because I understand adoption more fully because I am an adoptive father.

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