“She is a miracle, you know.” My brother gazed at the child wearing an over-sized polka dotted bow celebrating the crown of her sun-splashed head. Our entire family, several from out-of-town, had gathered to indeed celebrate this little girl’s third birthday, and to introduce her to just one part of her very large family.
Elizabeth Grace was officially adopted by our daughter and son-in-law just a couple of months ago. Even though she had been embraced by all six members of her new family, it took months of supervision, negotiations, legal red tape, domestic regulations, and expense before the child without a home was pulled out of her nowhere and placed into her forever family.
My brother’s thoughtful observation opened my eyes to the unfathomable love of our heavenly Father. God will stop at nothing to tear us away from the dark, lonely and dangerous world we lived in. He fights our tangled bondages and brings us home to His heart.
Elizabeth came to the home of our daughter, her husband, and family for foster care because, at almost three, she still did not have a family. Other than an agency charged with finding her a home, she had no one in the world. She was lost, unfound, and abandoned. Elizabeth Grace needed a miracle.
Having been a foster mother to newborns while permanent families could be established, our daughter was used to tending to the needs of infants. A three-year old child who had already experienced instability, confusion, and damaging rejection, would be a different kind of challenge. Informed of the dire situation, our daughter’s family nevertheless opened their door to the foster child. Less than five minutes after Elizabeth arrived, their hearts were filled with love. Elizabeth Grace was found.
Adoption reveals the grace of God. It comes with sacrifice and an endowment of love.
Seeing how Elizabeth has flourished in her new family environment gives me an inkling of how we can flourish in the Kingdom of God as His adopted children. God didn’t have to adopt us. He had His own family – the Hebrews. But He chose us even before we were aware. His love is so magnanimous, overflowing, and unfathomable that He provided a way for all people to be grafted into His Kingdom to enjoy the riches of His Glory in this life and with Him in heaven. He did this by His own sacrifice, the death of His only real family member – His Son, Jesus. By faith in Jesus Christ, we are adopted as the children of God.
With adoption comes sacrifice. I’ve seen how our daughter who thought she was finished raising toddlers, wiping spilled milk, cajoling potty training, changing wet beds, settling sibling tantrums, and driving to and from pre-school, has given up freedom she had earned. But her sacrifice has been deeper than what shows. It has required her to give up all of her expectations of motherhood, as she had known it, and to love her new child unconditionally.
Where once she had been confident in her parenting because she was familiar with the patterns, quirks, and needs of her four children, the mother of five now has not been quite sure how to best guide and provide for a child coming from a strange paradigm and unknown experiences. So she has had to depend on God, the Father of adoption, for wisdom, discernment, and patience. Above all, she has had to be open to all of the love God has poured through her to affirm Elizabeth that she is adored once and for all.
The grace of adoption is holy work.
I imagine God has had some real challenges with our not-so-holy-as-He-is-holy personalities, idiosyncrasies, and adversities, not to mention our out right disobedience. Each one of us is a case to contend with, but He loves us still. If the mother of an adopted child can devote herself to helping that child adapt to a life of joy and love, how much more devoted is our Heavenly Father toward our well-being and happiness?
Elizabeth’s new family has opened their hearts, rooms, toys, and activities to accommodate her and give her pleasure. She has taken ballet lessons, attended plays, gone on camping trips, learned to swim and ride a bike, and she is the Teacher’s Pet in pre-school. She is anxious to please and is actually grateful to be found obedient. Definitely God’s Star Pupil! Everyone in her great big extended family, including her Church family, loves her and she gleefully returns her love to all of us.
Her Mommy and Daddy are meeting Elizabeth’s greatest need, for their love has been absolute. She clings to them for comfort, safety, and security, and looks for their reassurance whenever she tries something new. Elizabeth is learning to trust again.
What adoptive parents give to a child is what God gives to us. He wants to pour His blessings all over us, fill us to overflowing with His joy, keep us in good health, make us prosper, and above all, cover us fully in His abundant love.
Parents who adopt children are agents of miracles. We who have been adopted by God are recipients of miracles!
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:5-6)