Guest Writers

Chosen: A Life Changing Discovery of Adoption

When I reflect back on my early childhood years, the overwhelming feeling that floods my senses is one of nostalgia for a bygone era. The typical memories of a young girl growing up in a small Northern Ontario town at the dawn of the early seventies. While I cannot boast of an exceptional memory, this retrospective narrative will provide the framework for one of the most pivotal and poignant events that helped to shape (for worse, then better), the legacy that represents my life up to this current time.

My life began on March 23, 1969 in East York, Ontario, a former borough of southeastern Ontario, which has since amalgamated into what is now known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). There were no family roots there. It was just the destination that my birth mother was sent to “in those days”; an intentional exile to a home for unwed mothers. A place of secrecy where the shameful pregnancy of an 18 year old Catholic girl could be hidden away while an alternative story was written. A better, more acceptable story. A quiet shunning of the thing that ought not to have happened. My biological mother had been promiscuous and it was determined that she should “go away” until such time as the consequence of her sin could be dealt with out of the public eye, the community in which her family belonged to.

My maternal grandmother had been particularly burdened with the task of navigating a path forward out of this unfortunate circumstance. A rescue plan was necessary to “redeem” me from my illegitimate conception. A plan had been devised from the very beginning. A plan borne out of love and a desire to right a wrong. My adoptive parents made a thoughtful and deliberate choice. The decision had been made within the week prior to my arrival, that I should join their family along with their two sons, my older brothers. I was officially chosen and my family name was established. I was to be theirs and they were to be mine. I belonged, before I even was.

There are certain events in life that you never forget. More often than not, it’s usually the type of circumstance that ambushes your senses, a seismic disruption of the ground beneath your feet. The type of thing that you never see coming, but leaves you dazed and disoriented in its wake. Such was the day when I inadvertently discovered my earthly origin. I was twelve years old and my two older brothers and I must have been bored. Our younger sister was likely playing with her Strawberry Shortcake dolls, but for some reason, the boys and I were digging through mom’s cedar chest; a trunk filled with sentimental memories and nostalgic keepsakes. As I shuffled through stacks of old cards (some of which were endeared to welcoming the arrivals of my brothers and sister), birth announcements and hospital baby pictures, I was looking for the cherished mementoes that commemorated MY welcome into our family. I searched, but I couldn’t find any. Although I had no idea why, I recall a sense of uneasiness filling my mind. At about that time, a white paper with fancy black lettering caught my eye: LEGAL ADOPTION. Those two words in bold black ink jumped off the page. My eyes frantically scanned the paper and to my confusion, my name was under those two words. What did this mean? The foundation of my childhood and reality itself was crumbling beneath me.

The three of us galloped down the stairs, the papers clutched in my hand. I truly believed that my mom was going to say that it was just a joke, “of course you’re not adopted”. On the way down, my oldest brother had reasoned that all babies are born with adoption certificates “just in case” they get adopted. To be certain, Cabbage Patch Kids were a cultural phenomena at this time, but I’m still impressed at his quick thinking nonetheless. I have only learned recently that neither of my brothers had been made aware of my adoption prior to us collectively finding out together on that appointed day.

There was a sweet measure of grace and momentary relief in my brother’s offering, but the full weight of the truth was soon brought to bear as my mother validated the authenticity of the paper. I pretended that it was okay, that it was no big deal, but inwardly I was crushed and my very existence felt like a lie. To make matters worse (in my adolescent mind), it was disclosed to me that my birth mother was actually the sister of my adoptive mother. It turns out that my “aunt” was my biological mom! Aunt Shirley was a well-known part of our extended family for my whole life. She was sweet…..and loud…..and had the best laugh. She was also schizophrenic and manifested symptoms of auditory hallucinations, which as kids, we mocked in secrecy. Why? Why did SHE have to be my biological mom, my brain screamed, as I fought back tears with a forced smile. My body moved away from the kitchen table under the direction of muscle memory and sheer willpower. I carried on “playing” as if a giant tsunami had not just swept me overboard. Inwardly I was questioning everything! Despite growing up in a Christian home, attending church, Sunday school, and youth group faithfully, I had not yet developed my solid standing in Christ. I did not know who I was or to whom I belonged anymore.

This singular event proved to be a crucial turning point in my life, of which led me down many prodigal paths in my teens and young adult years. It is only from the vantage point of growing in chronological years and spiritual maturity, that I can look back and understand that this was the moment in which a faulty foundation was laid and a distorted view of my identity was envisioned. Although I had made a profession of faith as a very young girl, it would take me decades to recognize the truth of being made in the image of my Heavenly Father and being fully rooted in the True Vine.

With clarity and proper biblical perspective, I can now stand at the junction of earthly and spiritual adoption and truly come to reconcile the practical and doctrinal value of both. There is often a misconception among both believers and secular alike, that we are ALL children of God. While this sounds like a kind and inclusive thing to say, there is no biblical foundation for this. In fact, Romans 8:14-16 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” (ESV) It is true that all humans are God’s creation and are made in His image, “So God created man in HIs own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27 (ESV) However, scripture clearly indicates that God’s only children are children by adoption. Just like in my earthly adoption, there was a plan of redemption established from the very beginning. The fall of man, our sinful nature, necessitated a Divine Rescuer to restore our relationship with our Heavenly Father. God bought us with Christ’s blood and filled us with his Holy Spirit as an internal marker of complete and full transfer into His family. We bear the seal of LEGAL ADOPTION! The same two words that devastated me as a child, now stand as an eternal reminder that I belong to God and am entitled to an imperishable inheritance along with His firstborn Son, Jesus Christ. We are inextricably related to God through the indwelling Holy Spirit. This family bond is far greater than any earthly genetic disposition. Scripture has a very high view of adoption and we should esteem it rightly. Adoption demonstrates God’s compassion in welcoming the broken, lost and vulnerable into His family. It displays his love in that He sacrificed His own Son in order to redeem us from our sins. Adoption reveals God’s faithfulness in committing to eternally care for us. And finally, adoption emphasizes our Father’s amazing grace to us as there is nothing we could ever do to deserve or earn such grace.

It is a privilege to be called a child of God, but it must be understood that there are those who choose to remain outside of the family of God. There are two distinct spiritual families that we can belong to. The only way to be part of God’s family is to be adopted through faith in Jesus Christ. Scripture is unequivocal in John 8:43-44a when Jesus says, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” (ESV) Many of us view God, our Heavenly Father, through the lens of our earthly fathers. Or perhaps you have never known an earthly father. Whatever your experience has been, may I encourage you to pursue a relationship with God, the only Father who loves perfectly and in whom all joy and sufficiency is found.

Written by: Sandra B.

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