- Called by His Name – an emotional journey of spiritual and physical adoption￼ - 21 Aug 2022
- How to describe… - 17 Apr 2022
I remember sitting on the field we called “the Postage Stamp” in matric, hearing someone talking about adoption, and deciding in my heart that I would adopt one day. I was 17 years old at the time and nowhere near getting married or having children, but something was birthed in me at that moment. Later, when Ryan and I started dating, we chatted about it and we both felt the same way about the topic. Fast forward through a wedding, moving countries and two biological children and we arrive back in Cape Town in 2019. Finally, the day had arrived and we were going to the adoption agency to fetch our son. We named him Micah.
3.5 years later…
He has now been part of our family for almost three and a half years and we can see how we needed him. He brings a lightness and fun and love for people that we would have lacked without him. Those initial stages of bonding were difficult for me. I spent many weeks feeling like I was babysitting someone else’s child. And it took him time to bond with us as well – he was about 18 months old before he moved towards me when he hurt himself, instead of away from me. But the Lord has been kind and bonded us over time. Now, weeks will pass and I honestly forget that he is adopted. He is just my boy.
But there are moments when I reflect and the full weight of the situation dawns on me. Last week was one of those times. The process of adoption is a lengthy one, and Covid made it lengthier still, but last week I finally held his birth certificate in my hands with his full name: Micah Ryan. My heart squeezed tightly and my eyes welled up as I offered a prayer of thanks to the Lord that finally, FINALLY, he was “officially” ours.
Due to adoption being part of my day-to-day life, I do ponder on my own spiritual adoption through Christ quite often. It is not lost on me how God chose and prized Israel as his people and how I, as a Gentile, am now seen in the same light. Grafted in as we see in Romans 11. Holding that birth certificate in my hand, I was struck by some parallels in my own relationship with God.
The Old man
In South Africa, you are issued an ID number at birth. From my understanding, it is automatically linked with the ID numbers of the parents of the child. Due to the process of adoption in this country, the majority of children are only placed with their adoptive parents around 4-8 months old. This means that once the court order is signed and the adoption is finalised in Pretoria, the adoptive parents need to go to Home Affairs and “note” the adoption which links the child with the parent’s ID numbers. During this process, the child receives a new ID number. Now because it is South Africa, there is no communication process for the parents to know when this change has been implemented. They gave me an email address and told me to email the child’s ID number to it after 4-6 months and once I got a return mail saying that that ID number didn’t exist, I knew the paperwork had gone through. A bit backwards, but that is the process.
Recently, when I emailed and received a mail saying that the ID number was not valid, it struck me: that old ID number that linked Micah to the name he was issued at birth and the guardianship of the government literally does not exist anymore.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (ESV) says:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”
It hit me in the gut what my spiritual adoption to God and new birth meant. My “old man”, the person who I was before coming to know Christ did not exist anymore. The guilt and shame that I feel when I think about my life pre-Christ do not belong to me. It is as if that ID number had never been issued. I tried to let that extreme grace of God sink in for a second. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and my adoption to the Father, I have been cleansed that I am white as snow. Praise God for His great mercy.
Proof of Inheritance
Holding that birth certificate of my son with his and our names joined together, made me feel confident for him. That piece of paper shows his right to his place in our family and his right to his inheritance one day, God-willing. If we travel, it shows that he is one of us.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (Amp) says:
“In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and (as a result) believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit (the ones promised by Christ) as owned and protected (by God). The Spirit is the guarantee (the first instalment, the pledge, a foretaste) of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own (purchased) possession (His believers), to the praise of His glory.”
Thinking further on the Holy Spirit, how He is a seal upon us to show who our Father is, I couldn’t help but see the link. Previously, we were “sons of disobedience” (Col 3:6) and our father was Satan (John 8:44). Now, when God sees us through the lens of Christ, He sees the Holy Spirit’s seal upon us. He sees that we belong to Him. We are His sheep, His children. That piece of paper shows the world and the government that Micah is my son. Previously, he may have belonged to someone else, but he is under my covering now. If I feel jealousy over that relationship I have with my adopted son, how much more must our Heavenly Father feel jealous over us?
Thank you, God for your kindness in sealing us with your Holy Spirit.
Cross-racial adoption comes with its own challenges and living in the South African hotpot of cultures and stereotypes, I am acutely aware of the cultural differences between my English South African culture and Micah’s biological family’s culture.
These paths are not always the same.
Adoption is such a balancing act between acknowledging the initial tragedy and praising God for what He did in and through it.
We needed to come to grips with some general principles which seem to apply across the board in most African cultures, such as hair care and the priority of keeping it neat and what that entails. So even though Ryan and I don’t mind if Micah’s hair is slightly unkept when we go to Pick n Pay, we have to stay aware that it is a no-no in the culture of his origin.
Well-meaning people will ask him if he has lost his mommy when I am consoling him at a park or look around nervously for his “real” family if he is playing on his own at the beach.
And we weather all that with the grace that God provides because my heart cries out that he is my own son, my own flesh.
Romans 11:17-18 (ESV) says:
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”
When I see how God lifted up and prized Israel and pronounced promises over them, I rejoice knowing that I am now also grafted into the vine. God sees me as part of the chosen people, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). And I look at Micah, and at Levi, my biological son, and the protection and love and oneness I feel for each individual is the same.
Of course, the analogy of our adoption story will never compare with our adoption through Christ in this regard: a holy, omniscient God chose me in my sin to make me into an object of beauty for His glory. When the adoption agency called us to say there was a baby that was available and we saw the photo of this chubby little scallywag, we couldn’t see the sin he would one day commit or the hurt he could possibly cause in his future. We saw a little boy with unlimited potential who needed a home that we could provide.
God has no such limitations. He sees us fully, covered in sin and separated from Him, and yet still decides to take us into His family. Though we are fickle and weak and may cause pain, He still chose us.
I am in awe of this God who chose me when I was dead in my transgressions and reached down and gave me hope and a family that I didn’t deserve.
Praise be to God.