…I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me…
As my wife and I are in the home stretch of adopting our foster son, this conversation between Jesus and his Father about the children given him seems to resonate. As we’ve been talking with our son about his new family I’ve also been camping out on this idea: that Christians really are saints and heirs, mysteriously, through faith, and with this inheritance comes relief and hope. Adopted, though, one of the hardest transformations to take on in our new identity is believing that transformation, changing the way we see ourselves as well as others. Romans 12:2 mentions the transformation that comes from “the renewal of your mind”. But can I see myself–or other Christians–as holy, righteous, and good because that’s who Christ is?
Looking back at the past year and seeing my foster son wrestle with his identity has helped me see this a little more clearly. My wife and I started fostering over a year ago with the option to adopt. These are two very different relationships. With foster care, our main responsibility was to provide a safe home and support through a difficult situation, with the goal to be reunited with their biological family. Once the court terminates parental rights the child becomes an orphan or ward of the state. With the declaration of adoption, the relationship begins to change. The hope and goals are no longer a temporary transition period but rather a permanent relationship. Our foster son has a family name given at birth and bonds built over years–and then one day someone says, “This is going to be your new name.” It’s one thing to give someone a new name, but coming to fully understand the implications of what that identity change means can take a lifetime.
November is national adoption month here in the US and, as timing would have it, we’ll be adopting our son this month. We look forward to the permanence of the court hearing and continuing to help our son see himself as our child in his new forever family.
Our adoptive Father makes “Beautiful Things” out of the dust, beautiful things out of us. Praise be to God the name changer, who turns orphans into heirs, no matter how long it takes for that sink in.