We are excited that this week’s guest blogger is Rhegan. She shares with us her own personal adoption story and teaches us a bit about what The Bible says about it.
Let’s get to know each other-you know those games. Every time you are at an event with new people and you have to come up something interesting about yourself. What was my answer? I am adopted. Every. Single. Time. It’s unique, and after all I was told it made me special and chosen. I would proudly answer any questions that came up and talk about how someday I would find my birth parents, thank them and let them know I’m alright. (Now the questions are harder to answer and I’m not feeling quite as thankful, but I am better than ever).
What I didn’t realize was that the pain of being relinquished was continually being pushed down and eating away at who I really am. I clung to the verses in Psalm 139:13-16
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Though I felt unwanted and unworthy, I had to believe God had a plan in all of this.
Adopted at 2 weeks old, I grew up with more questions than answers. I had two pages that told me some basic things about my birth parents. I knew they had blonde hair and blue eyes, but what did they REALLY look like? And did I look like either of them? I knew my mother had plans to continue on in school and get married, but did she ever do that? And did she ever think of me? I knew where I was born, but where was she from and where was she now?
Adoption itself can be a wonderful thing; a family taking in someone else’s child to raise them as their own. We use terms like lucky, blessed, and chosen. What we often forget is that first that child had to first lose their original family, lose the connection they had with their mother. No matter the age of the child, this is traumatic (and often unrecognized even by the adopted person). For those of us adopted as infants, what our brains can’t remember our body stores and buries and often manifests in other ways until we are ready to heal from that.
I was always proud to be adopted on the outside, but inside-when I occasionally let myself feel – it hurt.
Christians often use Scripture to support adoption or to compare adoption as we know it today to our adoption into God’s family. While there are some correlations, it can be very triggering for adopted persons and has turned many away from having a relationship with God or fellowship in the church. Adoption as we know it today is improving (debatable), but for a century was shrouded in secrecy and shame. Unwed mothers often coerced or forced into letting go of their own flesh and blood because of their “sin” or their assumed “inability” to care for their child. People representing the church have hurt many involved in adoption and made them hard towards God. In addition, comparing human adoption with spiritual adoption often sets up adopted parents as “saviors” and expects adopted children to be grateful and forever loyal, forgetting our past. We need our past, our present, and our future.
The word Adoption in the New Testament is used only 5 times and is used by Paul who understood Roman culture and was speaking to Gentiles. While adoption was essentially unheard of in the Jewish culture, the Romans often practiced adoption as a means of lineage and inheritance. In scriptures speaking to Jews, salvation was described as being born into God’s family because of the importance of blood lines. In Roman culture adoption expressed permanency and that son (and rarely daughter) was then given the inheritance or power that would have come to their biological child; but there were some key differences then what we see today. The adopted person took on the name of their adopted family, but also kept an adapted name of their birth family. They were not expected to cut ties and enjoyed the connections from both families. My name was changed and my original identity and family was locked up as a secret I have limited to no access to.
People also like to highlight two famous “adoptions” in the Old Testament: Moses and Esther. These too are in stark contrast to what we know today as adoption, not to mention adoption was non-existent in Jewish culture. Moses was still nursed by his mother and was able to stay with her until he was older. He always knew where he came from, his heritage, his people, his culture, his God. Growing up in the palace was God’s provision to keep Moses safe until he could save God’s people. Esther was adopted by a family member only after her own parents had died. Neither was forced into a life of a secret past with no answers. God had a special plan for both of them, but their adoptions were not like my own.
In recent years we have seen an increase in inter country adoptions and this call to care for the world’s orphans based on Scripture. Though certainly done with sincere intentions, and while indeed there are children around the world in need of homes, many “orphans” have family who simply can’t afford to care for them. UNICEF’s definition of orphan is a child who has lost one parent by death or abandonment. This greatly exaggerates the number of orphans that really need a home and inter country adoption has fueled kidnapping, trafficking, and baby selling in many countries. Scripture tells us to care for widows and orphans- and sometimes that’s a package deal. The term orphan can also be translated fatherless. A woman who lost her husband and the child who lost his/her father would be considered a widow and an orphan. It is then our job to support the mother and child so they can remain together. (like this great program in Africa.) Family preservation needs to be higher on our list. Eventually Moses left his place of position to return to his family. God loves to restore families.
This past year I have been on an incredible journey. A journey that I thought was just about finding my birth parents, but what I ultimately found was myself.
Being adopted was God’s provision for me. I grew well and He blessed me in the life I now have. Last summer I was reunited with my mother and THAT was God’s plan. I can look at how he worked in my life and in the situation to bring me right to her. You can read about it here.
God is healing both of us. God is healing my extended family. God is helping me find value. God is helping me be comfortable in who I really am, not who I think others want me to be.
In the very beginning, God created us to be His; His people who He had a relationship with. He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden but then sin entered in and separated us from a holy God. He then sought out Abraham and made the Israelite people His. Today, Christ’s sacrifice allows us to be adopted back into fellowship with Him as His children. I see adoption in Scripture more like a reunion. Adoption is used to describe our salvation, our welcoming us into His presence, His family, His inheritance. He has always loved me as His own child, but I had to decide to search, find, and accept Him in order to be reunited with Him and join His family.