Rich and I both basically ran out on our jobs–with permission–that July day, hotfooting it to the hospital at top speed. Our baby had been born.
It was a hot day, and I was dressed in a sleeveless top as we were ushered by our adoption worker into a stranger’s hospital room. I wanted only to hold my new daughter, but our gratitude for the unselfish and loving grace of the birthmother forbade us from unceremoniously ripping our daughter from her arms.
So we made awkward small talk with her.
I remember the stranger’s tears dropping, then rolling down my arm as she finally placed her baby—my baby—into my arms.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop my smile.
Her love for that little girl—our Leah—brought her to the depths of sorrow at the same time it brought us heart-soaring joy.
I’m so grateful to God that that stranger in the hospital room is no longer a stranger, but a blessed family friend, eternally bound to us by the threads of adoption, though I will not break privacy by sharing her name.
When Leah was little, Rich would say, “You know how long it took me to start loving you when we first saw you?” He would snap his fingers. Frown. “Nope. It was faster than that.” He’d snap his fingers faster. “Hmm. No. It was even faster than that.”
Finally he would give up. “I can’t snap fast enough to show you how quickly I started loving you,” he would tell her as she grinned at him.
But our love for her truly began to grow even from the moment I took the call at work that not only had the birthmother chosen us, but she had given birth the previous night, one week earlier than expected. It was at least five minutes into the phone call before my brain was able to comprehend that we had been chosen to be the little girl’s parents. Of course, I called Rich right away, and with shaky voice and trembling hands, I said, “Hi, Dad.” Our love for that baby grew by the second.
Fact is, we walked into that hospital room, and immediately would have died for Leah.
Such is adoption.
This is National Adoption Awareness Month, so I thought I would spend my Word Nerd Wednesday (on a Thursday) time talking about one of my most favorite words.
Adoption comes from Latin, adoptare, which was made by combining the prefix a-/ad- (to) with optare, (to choose). (See Webster’s New World College Dictionary) Simple. When you adopt, you are choosing to take a child to yourself, to your family.
On the day nine months later when our adoption was FINALLY made final, I remember the judge asking us an astonishing question: “Do you understand that Leah will inherit from you and have all the rights to your estate of a biological child?”
Duh. That was the point. We were choosing her to be our child. Or was it us being chosen by her birthmother? More the latter, I’d say. Rich and I got very tired very fast of those who told us how lucky Leah was to have us. No. We were the lucky—no, blessed—ones.
Fact is, the choosing was all done by God, not by any of us in the adoption triad.
I remember forgetting to breathe the day I looked up Leah’s birth record online and saw that there is nothing about adoption on her birth certificate. We are not “adoptive parents,” she is not “adoptive daughter.” We are simply parents and daughter. There is no way in which she is not our daughter.
Such is adoption.
Adoption is all over the Bible. Think of Pharaoh’s daughter adopting Moses right out of a basket floating on the river, for starters. Samuel being raised by Eli. Read the book of Romans…it’s a word study on the word adoption. (8:23, 9:24) In the New Testament, it shows up as the Greek and Roman custom of choosing someone from another family to be your heir. They were given the same rights and owed the same obligations as a natural son.*
Romans 11 talks about adoption in terms of grafting. The Jews are cultivated olive branches in this analogy, whereas we Gentiles are the wild olive shoots being grafted onto the plant. (I remember Leah once bursting into tears when I was telling her about how very much God loves the Jews. “I want to be a Jew,” she wailed. This is the passage I showed her.)
“If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”
It’s a picture of adoption. The wild olive shoot becomes a part of the plant, supported and nourished by the same roots that support and nourish all of His children. Wild shoot or cultivated, Gentile or Jew, when you are grafted into God’s family through grace and faith, you are nourished by the blood of Jesus as an olive branch—cultivated or grafted in—is nourished by its roots. There is no way in which you are not His child
Being grafted wholly and completely into the family of God is something I didn’t truly understand on a heart level until I walked into that hospital room that July day and knew one thing:
I would die for that child.
WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: Other than the word opt (too obvious for the word nerd challenge lover), what words can you come up with that we English-speakers took from the Latin optare, to choose?
Click here for President George W. Bush’s 2008 National Adoption Month Proclamation
*from the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible; New Testament Lexical Aids, Huiothesia—from the Greek huios, “son” and tithemis, “to place”
- Word Nerd Wednesday: (on a Thursday): Icons and Images (vonildawrites.wordpress.com)
- Word Nerd Wednesday: Hallowed and Holy (vonildawrites.wordpress.com)