“In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will…” Ephesians 1: 5
It has been two months that our daughter has been home with us. We picked her up in Bulgaria, stayed there for about two weeks, and then brought her home to Michigan. The journey to this point was long and hard but completely worth it. She is a gift from above and we are thankful to God for granting us this blessing. We are grateful for her mother and father who conceived her, for her foster family in Bulgaria who cared for her during the first two years of her life, and for the three adoption agencies that helped facilitate the process.
However, this process was not always sunshine and rainbows. The last couple of years were very challenging. There were a lot of unknowns and risks we had to take. For one thing, there was never a guarantee this adoption would work out and as a family who has lost three children to miscarriage, that possibility sure hit a tender spot. However, we believed that if we left the door open, God would either close it and that would be that, or He would successfully get us across the finish line of adoption. I was a mess at the beginning, having fits if things did not go “my way” and getting bent out of shape when a document was done incorrectly or if my husband would not see things from my perspective.
Slowly, as the months passed, I learned to take my focus off the “end goal” and put it back on growing spiritually and tending to the gifts God had already given me. I was then able to resign myself to whatever God’s will would be. The suffering of “the wait” was still there but I learned to offer it up, which gave it a purpose and, in turn, lessened the burden.
Although adoption is an incredible gift, it is not perfect. The need for adoption arises because we live in a fallen world. The list of reasons why a child may be placed for adoption is long: women and men conceive children out of wedlock, and there may be domestic abuse at play, or poverty. On the other hand, couples seeking to adopt most often are struggling with fertility issues; they may be unable to conceive or to carry a child to term. However, they, like all married couples, were made by God with a natural desire to conceive and to bear children together. They yearn to see what their child would look like, with half of their genes and half of their spouse’s. This is the natural order of things. Well, in an imperfect world, things do not always go as planned. Hence, the need for adoption arises.
The good news for us is that God has redeemed and elevated adoption. You might ask, “How did He do this?” Let’s begin by clarifying a key point: Jesus Christ is the natural son of God the Father, and when we join to Christ through our baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of God the Father by grace. “Man is not, by nature, a child of God; he only enters God’s divine life through the grace of adoption” (The Liturgy and Divine Adoption).
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.” Galatians 4:4-7
We hear about our divine adoption in the liturgy at Mass. In one of the Collects during Ordinary Time, the priest prays,
“O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption, look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters, that those who believe in Christ may receive true freedom and an everlasting inheritance…”
Another example is a prayer the priest says during Mass, specifically over the offerings:
“O Lord, who gained for yourself a people by adoption through the one sacrifice offered once for all, bestow graciously on us, we pray, the gifts of unity and peace in your Church. Through Christ our Lord.”
Adoption has its challenges. As I already mentioned, it is not part of the natural order of things. However, when I reflect on humanity’s own gift of adoption through grace, I realize that God has also redeemed the type of adoption that brings children into families like mine. We love our adopted daughter more than I can write in words. When I meditate on the truth that I am an adopted daughter of God the Father, I appreciate her adoption into our family all the more. It points me to a higher adoption, the one I have through Jesus Christ.
The Irish Monk, Blessed Columba Marmion (1858-1923), who wrote extensively on the doctrine of divine adoption, said, “By nature God has only one Son. By love, He will have a multitude of them, without number. This is the grace of supernatural adoption.”