‘For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.’ Romans 8:15
I was adopted as a baby, and what this means in my life is something I have always thought about. For a number of years I was blessed in Tokyo with a very good friend who is both Christian and was adopted herself, and we often talked about our experiences. I have to say, all of my experiences grouped together fall under the category of ‘a good adoption’, as social workers refer to such things. That doesn’t mean everything has been easy, or always good, but all things considered, ‘a good adoption’.
However, being bloody-minded, something I consider to be a much under-rated virtue, I decided a few years ago that if there was a file somewhere in the system about me then I wanted it. Through social workers in London, where my brother was living at the time, I obtained first my birth certificate, and then, several months later after the perseverance of my social worker paid off, copies of everything in the file that was kept on me in my first year of life. I was quite shocked at the time to feel a real connection to my mother, even though I have never met her, and at this point in my life am not trying to find her. What amazed me the most was the one direct quote from her; it is about the importance of faith to life. Since my parents have never encouraged me in my faith, I was amazed to see her words reaching across all that time to me. It was such a shock that I didn’t know what to do with the information – rather like not having a folder in your computer for a document and needing to create a new one. That is what I had to do, and the information I got from the file, including the quote, ended up in a folder in my mind titled, ‘I am my mother’s daughter’.
And yet – my parents are my parents. No one has ever challenged me – ‘They can’t be your parents, you look nothing like them!’ If you met my parents you would not see anything other than a daughter with her parents. I love them as much as any daughter loves her parents. My brother is my brother (but not biologically). From talking to other people who were adopted I have discovered we share a kind of ‘sheep pig’ quality. (‘The Sheep Pig’ is the title of the book which became the film, Babe, about the piglet raised by sheep which believes itself to be the same as the animals it saw around it.) By that I mean, you identify with who you see around you. You appropriate the things that seem to fit. I always identified with my mother’s mother, who was Welsh. I have always felt the pull of Celtic things; from what I know of my roots, my mother’s side of the family was Celtic. Music has always been important; my Dad was a church organist, studied music at university and taught me a lot, even though we disagreed as often as we agreed on many things. Now I have more information I know that my mother also had a lot of music in her life.
What does it mean to be adopted?
Before it was clear who you were going to become, someone loved you, took you into their family, raised you as their own. Never asked questions, and gave you everything they had. And what do you do, as an adopted person? You identify with what you see around you, you make it your own, while remaining true to the person you are.
When water was poured on our heads at baptism, God adopted us. We are now children of God and heirs of God’s world, God’s kingdom.We have been adopted by God and become members of Christ.
Christ was the first, He did the hard work for us. He stood up for the oppressed, the marginalised, the things He saw in society that were unjust. All we need to do is accept the love God has for us, look at the example Christ set for us, and identify with it, appropriate His concerns and stand up with Him. He already did the hard part, He did it before us, He still stands there and all we need to do is stand up with Him and say, ‘Me too’.