There is a lot of anticipation with the birth of a baby whether you are the actual parents waiting for the child to arrive or you are the rest of the family sitting on the sidelines. Today it is not so much as to what the child is going to be—boy or girl, as that is easily determined long before the child ever arrives thanks to today’s advance pre-natal testing. No, I think that the anticipation is on what . . . or who . . . is the child going to look like. Inquiring minds want to know.
I can attest to that anxiousness of anticipation as we waited . . . and waited . . . and waited for the arrival our newest family member. We all knew that the baby was going to be a girl . . . we even knew what her name was going to be—Finley Kate . . . but, what we did not know was what or who she was going to look like. Despite all the hard facts that we already had—her gender and name, we still did not know what she was going to look like.
Well, now we know . . . she looks like Finley Kate. I really do not like getting into the game of declaring that babies look like this parent or that parent . . . or that he or she has her grandmother’s nose (heaven forbid), her grandfather’s eyes, or her aunt’s chin. How in the world do we even know? And, why in the world would we want to burden the child with such expectations? The kid is going to be who the kid grows up to be.
When it comes to birth, well, you get what you get . . . and, you get a lifetime of unraveling that gift with the child. When it comes to birth . . . you created it and you get what you get . . . it is yours . . . love him or her because it is your child. You wanted that child, you brought that child into the world, and now it is yours to discover and raise.
But, not all children are lucky to have been born into families that love them and want them . . . some children are born and rejected . . . some are born and abandoned . . . some are taken away from their parents because of neglect and abuse . . . some are just thrown away. They’re just not wanted.
In the United States there are over half a million children in foster care waiting for adoption . . . fifty percent of those children are minorities . . . approximately 14 percent of them have disabilities . . . many of them have been abused and neglected. The average age of these children is almost ten years old. In a given year approximately 20 percent of the children will be adopted. By adoption I mean that someone or some family will purposefully chose to take a child to become a part of their family. They will be chosen . . . chosen with whatever known and unknown baggage that child brings into the relationship. They will be loved for, cared for, and wanted no matter what comes with it. It will be a purposeful decision on the part of those who are adopting.
I want us to understand this because in the scripture reading I shared earlier . . . in verse 15 . . . it stated, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” At least that is what our translation of the Bible said. I like the way that other translations say it: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” I think using the translation that states that we come into the relationship between us and God is through adoption is more accurate in describing that relationship . . . and, it is more powerful.
In other words, God chose us. God chose us to be God’s children . . . to be a part of God’s family. God chose us because God wanted us . . . desire us to be in relationship. God picked us all . . . just as we are with all of our strengths and weaknesses, especially our weaknesses. God picked us because God loves us for who God created us to be as God’s children. God adopted us . . . God did not get stuck with us, but desired us.
Now, I do not want anyone to think that parenting of any sort is not a gift or blessing. Parenting of any sort is a responsibility . . . a tough responsibility whether you are a birth parent or an adoptive parent. Parenting is not easy . . . period. Either way, parenting is a lot of work. Trust me, I know . . . and, it never gets any easier even when the children grow up and become adults.
But, there is a slight difference in the way that I came into parenting than does the individual who comes in by the process of adoption. Dana and I chose to make the children that we have . . . in our decision we knew what each of us was throwing into the mix, good and bad . . . and, we waited. We waited to see what the combination of the two of us would create, and for the most part we have been quite blessed despite some hardships along the way.
For people who adopt, well, they have to pick from what is available. As I stated earlier, it is a purposeful choice that they make with very little knowledge of what issues there might be. At least Dana and I had some idea of what could happen and we loved our children no matter what sprung up. For people that adopt they are choosing to bring a child in their lives that has usually grown beyond the baby stage as the average age for an adopted child is almost eight years old. These are not newborns waiting to be mapped out for the journey ahead, these are children who have issues and problems, children who have already collected some baggage, and very little information about their past. Despite it all, these people go ahead and adopt because they desire that child in their lives and want—like any parent—to provide the best for their children. Despite the odds stacked against them, they still chose to adopt.
So it is with God when it comes to each of us. God—knowing us—still desires to take us into the family . . . still desires to make us one of the children. Which is pretty darn special . . . special because it puts us in the same boat with Jesus . . . we, like Jesus, are heirs to the promises of God . . . heirs to the Kingdom of God. What Jesus gets, we get as the adopted children of God. God does not see us any different . . . we are God’s children.
I like that fact. I like knowing that God has chosen me . . . you . . . and everyone else . . . to be God’s children. Unfortunately, as much as I like that I know that the rest of the world doesn’t quite embrace it as strongly as I do. There is still a lot of judgment and prejudice in our world today . . . not everyone is seen as the adopted children of God for a variety of reasons ranging from one’s skin color . . . to one’s abilities or disabilities . . . to one’s place in society . . . to one’s education . . . to one’s nationality . . . to even one’s gender. All of God’s children are not treated the same.
Now I know that the best example of that is what is happening in the community of Billings right now as the citizens of that city argue and fuss and fight over a Nondiscriminatory Ordinance being instituted. Some argue that it is not fair to inflict such guidelines upon people when what it represents is giving the rights that all people have to groups of people that they do not agree with or value. Yet, when it is pointed out that all are God’s children, there is the argument that some people are more God’s children than others. Which is exactly the reason for the ordinance.
Where does God weigh in all of this?
Debi Jackson is the mother of a child in Kansas City who is transgender—transgender meaning that her child was a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Of course upon the slow realization of what was going on with her child she became frustrated, angry, and ashamed . . . this was not what she and her husband bargained for . . . yet, this was their child. Upon acceptance of her child for who she was the family had a lot of hardship as they faced the prejudice of having a child that was not like everyone else. They lost friends and members of their extended family.
Recently Debi Johnson gave a speech to address this issue in her life and to let people know the toll it has placed upon her and her family. If you want to watch and listen to that speech you can do so at Huffington Post. There is one part in the speech where she addresses the statements and questions thrown at her about her daughter. Everything from her being a liberal—which she assured folks she was not as she was raised in the South, Republican born and bred, Southern Baptist, and definitely conservative—to the statement that her daughter, being transgendered, was doomed to hell forever in the eyes of God.
To that question she answered:
“My God taught us to love one another. Jesus sought out those who others rejected. Some people choose to embrace biblical verses that appear to say that transgender people are being wrong. I choose to focus on verses like I Samuel 16:7, which says, “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
“My daughter is a girl in her heart . . . she knows it . . . God knows it . . . and, that is good enough for me.”
God has chosen us as the children of God . . . God has adopted us. We are good enough for God . . . God desires us . . . God wants us. Do we want God? Amen.