Understanding Our Life Story
(By Tim Hayes)
Many of you will know that our son Luke is adopted. Having him as part of our family has brought us great joy, and certainly in my case, filled a hole in my life that I didn’t know I had. Last week Luke’s social worker sent us his life story book and later life letter. The life story book is age appropriate and designed for us to read with Luke so he grows to understand that he is adopted and a bit about why this came about. The later life letter is addressed directly to him and designed to explain the full details of his adoption circumstances when we feel he is ready to have it, probably in his late teens.
Reading his life story book fills me with conflicting bittersweet emotions. I feel sadness for Luke that his start in life has been difficult, that he will forever have this emptiness in his life, and questions we will probably not be able to fully answer. At the same time, I feel so grateful that he has come to us to be part of our family and we have the opportunity to love and care for him. I hope and pray that he will always know that we absolutely love him as much as if we had given birth to him ourselves.
Sometimes the Bible uses adoption as a way to try to explain our relationship with God. Romans 8:15 explains that when we receive the Holy Spirit this brings about our adoption to sonship and we cry out ‘Abba’ father. It explains that in becoming children of God we also become heirs of God, alongside Jesus, if we share in his sufferings in order to share in his Glory. Adopted children certainly have their share of suffering. When an adopted child reads their life story book with their adopted parents, much of it must seem confusing and at times unfair, though hopefully the love that their adopted parents have for them shines through. In some ways this is similar to how I feel when I read my Bible, a life story book sent from God. I think I understand the overarching message of God’s love for me in it, but many passages seem confusing and some, in the context of my limited understanding, seem unfair.
Similar to my emotions when I consider the circumstances of Luke’s adoption, I wonder if God’s experience of us as his adopted children is bittersweet. We know that he loves us, yet we continue to stumble, question, disobey and at times turn away from him. I wonder if he experiences pain and disappointment when we do this? Despite this he demonstrates his love for us, patiently standing alongside us ready to comfort us when we are ready to turn back to him.
When Luke is old enough, he will read his later life letter and understand the full circumstances of his adoption. For Luke, this will probably be a time that brings new questions and difficult emotions. For us all when we join God and Jesus, either after death, or when he returns to form a new heaven and a new earth, I like to think that we will finally understand the full circumstances of our adoption by him. But unlike a later life letter, that understanding will be full of joy, celebration and answers.