MAY / JUN E 2008
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 3
A R T I C L E S
April 23, 2008, was an amazing day. Richard, Roy, Nathanael, and I appeared before a judge in the superior court of San Bernardino County of California, and I legally adopted Roy and Nathanael.
Nineteen-and-a-half years ago, I married Richard and became the stepmother of his two and six-year-old sons. I did not imagine what lay in store for me.
A few months after our wedding, I stood in our kitchen feeling completely overwhelmed. I was committed to nurturing my new stepsons, but I felt incapable of being what they needed. Their needs were beyond me.
The phone rang, and my dear friend Rosalie heard the desperation in my voice. At that moment she spoke truth into my life, and it changed me: "Colleen, you have to remember that you are not loving those boys for your sake or even for their sakes. You are loving them for God."
With those words God taught me how to trust Him with this new assignment He had given me. I didn't have to know what to do, and I didn't even have to have maternal feelings for these children who were suddenly part of my life. All I had to do was to be willing to allow God to love those boys through me.
Many times in the years that followed I prayed that God would show me how to love my sons for Him. Sometimes I would have no idea how to address what was before me, and I would pray silently, "Show me how to love them for you." God answered those prayers—often without my conscious awareness of His purpose or methods. I learned to trust that if I surrendered the moment to Him, He would be faithful to accomplish His will.
The boys' early childhoods were traumatic. Five years after Richard and I were married, Richard was granted primary custody of them. We went through several years, on and off, of counseling, and gradually they began to heal from their early trauma while I began to learn how to trust God to nurture my heart as He nourished in me a deep commitment and growing love for them.
Last December Rosalie again spoke truth to me as we put away the coffee pot after Friday night Bible study. "Why don't you adopt Roy and Nathanael?"
Startled, I replied, "Because I can't!" And just as suddenly I realized, they're adults now—25 and 21 years old. All that was needed was their consent. When I asked them if they wanted me to adopt them, they were both emotional.
"Why didn't we do this years ago?!" Roy said.
So it happened on April 23—serendipitously the date considered to be the anniversary of Jesus' resurrection. The brief proceeding was surprisingly emotional; I was wiping tears from my eyes as the judge asked me if I agreed not only to adopt them but to make them my heirs, and Richard cried too. Even the court clerk who was bringing the judge his papers cried a little.
Even though this is an adult adoption, each son will be issued a new birth certificate with me listed as the birth mother—just as in infant adoptions. I have been their mother for years, but now there are no technicalities standing between us. They are fully and legally mine, and I am theirs.
About 16 or 17 years ago, early in our marriage as we discovered the depth of the boys' trauma, Richard had a vivid dream. In his dream, the boys' bedroom (which was an addition to the house in which we then lived) was sinking and threatening to be destroyed or broken off. In his dream, Richard hired an engineer to evaluate the situation. The engineer replied, "We can save it, but we have to rebuild the foundation."
Over the years we have remembered that dream, as the boys went through counseling, as we left Adventism, as we watched them accept Jesus, and as we prayed that God would heal their hearts.
The evening of April 23 I read an email from a friend of mine in another state who had never heard of Richard's dream. She knew the adoption had been occurring that day, and she wrote that during the morning she had been "praying deeply" for us. She said that, without knowing any details, she had a picture of God putting a firm foundation under our family.
I have such a personal awareness of the significance and permanence of what it means for God to adopt us into His family. This is no accident of genetics; when we accept Jesus, we are born of God, and the spiritual reality of the new birth defines us and makes us completely, eternally new. What is spiritual is far more real, far more permanent than what is merely physical.
When I was born again of the Holy Spirit, my life was hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). It's as if God's name had been entered on my birth certificate. Being adopted by God changed my heritage and past identity. I moved from being in Adam to being in Christ, and my paternity was eternally changed. God's adoption of me also changes my present identity; I am no longer an object of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) but am God's daughter (Romans 8:15-16). My adoption also changes my future; I am now God's true heir, and all that is His is mine in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:17).
Roy and Nathanael are mine by the miracle of the Holy Spirit uniting our hearts and making us true family. They are, in many ways, more "mine" than if they had only been born to me.
The most heart-stopping miracle, though, is the fact that Richard, Roy, Nathanael and I are all God's true children, and the Lord Jesus has placed us in His body. As a human family knit together by His Spirit according to His purpose and grace, we are also being shaped and loved by our true Father who chose us and saved us by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus.
Because of Jesus, the impossible is real. "God sets the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6). "He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord" (Psalm 113:9). "[Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Romans 4:17).
I am God's daughter, and I have two sons. †
Copyright 2008 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Glendale, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised September 24, 2008. Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard, Roy, Colleen, and Nathanael Tinker with Judge Smith in his chambers right after he signed the adoption orders declaring Roy and Nathanael to be Colleen's legal sons. Colleen is the editor of Proclamation!