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Adopted Into the FamilyNovember 28, 2022
We adopted our fourth child from China. When we went to adopt her, she was two-years-old. At one point she is sitting in my lap looking around at what is happening, and her face says, “A sister, two brothers, a mother and father. Cool! I can live with this.” But could we learn to love one another. In the early years she struggled with attachment issues as is common for adoptees. My wife and I used the parenting tool called “Holding Time” to help her learn to love and trust us. Basically, when the child is pushing you away, so they don’t have to have emotional attachments, you respond by holding them close and assuring them you will always love them. It is hard and can be physically violent.
The first time I held her for almost five hours before she stopped fighting and accepting my love. It would take another two years before these sessions would end. There were times I’d get so mad at her while calmly telling her she could trust me, that I loved her. Once I remember thinking about throwing her against the wall and started praying Lord help me. He reminded me of the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32), that God will do anything to love the prodigal. All my anger melted, and I learned a lesson about unconditional love that changed my life forever.
God would use this amazing daughter He had given me to change me over and over in the years to come.
In the teen years we would spend hours talking about her Chinese and American identity. Those hours made us very close. I got to help coach her in Taekwondo. Sometimes we loved that, sometimes we didn’t. I was a hard coach. Today she is twenty-something and amazing. When God opens the doors for her to tell her adoption story He uses her to bring healing to the crowd He always gathers around her. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful daughter in my life.
Jesus tells us the two great commandments are, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:38-39). Imagine commanding us to love God, each other, and ourselves. We cannot command someone to feel any other emotion. Try it! Tell someone to get angry right now. It just doesn’t work. But love is an emotion we can choose to do or not do.
I am absolutely certain our daughter was a gift to my wife and I from God. We chose to love her right away. I chose to love her with all the love I could give her, all the love I had given my other children. That is what God does with each of us as His adopted children into His spiritual family.
Joseph faced some of the same decisions about 2000 years ago. His fiancé was pregnant, and he knew it wasn’t his child. Then in a dream the angel of the Lord said to him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)." We don’t have much information about how Joseph raised his adopted son, but we know he taught Jesus to be a carpenter, and Jesus used those skills throughout His ministry.
Did you ever think that you have been adopted by God? We read in Ephesians 1:5, “He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will.” We have become the children of God by adoption through our faith in Jesus Christ. God chose to love us long ago. As God’s children, we must decide whether to love God in return. This Christmas I invite you to give your life completely to God in love and enjoy all the wonderful blessings of being a part of God’s family.
What are some specific ways you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? From what you know about adoption, what is special about the way God adopts us into His family? Say a prayer thanking God for adopting you into His eternal family, and what it means for your life.