How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. –1 John 3:1
Walt and Cheryl, a couple that Penny and I used to know, adopted a boy, a kid about eight years old. Let’s call him Tim. They brought Tim into their home with their son, a couple of years older, and teenaged son and daughter. We got to know Tim over the span of several months. We found that Walt and Cheryl had difficulties with the boy, but they seemed to us, a clueless engaged couple ourselves, like the typical sort of problems you would have with a child. They also seemed pretty similar to the severity of problems they had with their natural kids.
That’s why I found it shocking when I learned Walt and Cheryl had returned Tim to whatever agency brought him their way. To our eyes, it seemed they treated this little boy like a piece of furniture that you bring into your home and then realize you don’t like. In fact, it seems they had less trouble “returning” this kid than they would have had taking a couch back to Nebraska Furniture.
Let me say that I don’t necessarily know the entire story. There might have been compelling reasons why Walt and Cheryl “un-adopted” Tim. But on the surface it looked a bit tawdry to me.
The problem, of course, is that no matter how much you love an adopted child, somewhere in the back of your mind there lurks the knowledge that this is not really my flesh-and-blood, those aren’t my genes animating this person. For some parents, those thoughts never rise to the surface, but for others, I’m sure they do. It’s hard enough to love adolescents whom you can’t walk away from, but when you’ve taken them on by choice, the difficulty would seem to compound.
In the grand scheme of things, I am an adopted child of the perfect parent. But I’m not some cute potential adoptee. I don’t have dimples and a button nose. No, as potential adoption fodder goes, I was a two-headed fat kid with diarrhea and bad case of halitosis. I was tough to love, but God loved me. He didn’t love me enough to buy me dinner or to throw a blanket my way. He loved me enough to adopt me into his household, to paint me into the family portrait in indelible ink. I’m not a whole lot more attractive than I was before the adoption, but I am profoundly loved. Family, when it works, is a beautiful thing.