Today, September 5th, is my adoption day—it’s the day I was received into my family. I have always known I was adopted, and the story was always told to me with lots of love and detail: my mother remembers the dress she was wearing, that I spit up on her shoulder, and how it felt to have to leave me over Labor Day weekend before she and my father could bring me home for good. From my earliest childhood I knew I was desperately wanted, and deeply loved.
I know this is not the experience for every child who is adopted; for some, their primary lens is through the experience of not being wanted by a birth mother [or father]—it’s the feeling of rejection, of somehow not being good enough. I understand that, but I can’t relate to it.
Over the years, I have come to a deeper religious understanding of how adoption functions as a powerful meaning-making, reality-creating metaphor in the Christian tradition—we are all adopted into God’s family through the unbreakable, unshakable bond of God’s passionate love for each and every one of us. And, through that, I have come to think about these bonds of love as the most powerful bonds of family—more powerful even than blood.
My sweet little dog? Adopted into our family.
My closest friends? Adopted as sisters and brothers.
Meaningful places where I have lived and worked? Adopted as home.
We all are born into a specific network of people, a particular set of circumstances, a time and a place over which we have no control. This family of origin is what it is—some of us have been greatly blessed, others of us, not so much.
But we are not left with this “original family” alone. We carry within us the power to constantly expand upon what we were born with, and create a new sense of family for ourselves and for others—as others create a sense of family for us, too.
When it comes to family, adoption always means more, not less—more people, more places, more love. And, when our understanding of adoption is grounded in God’s great love for us, then it becomes the foundation of an identity that is unsinkable–unwavering in the confidence of its own gifts and value. In God’s love, we always are family, we always are cherished, we always are home–no matter what. Love makes a family, of all shapes, sizes, colors and even species; love doesn’t discriminate, but welcomes extravagantly, boldly, lavishly. That’s the power of love; that’s the power of adoption.