It’s funny how a stroke of a pencil can change your life. A little checkmark in a little square box among pages and pages of information.
Scott had been trying for months to get hired by a police department. Since I was the designated "secretary", I was the one filling out the driver’s license number, years of addresses, work history and education history page after page. I remember one of the last applications I filled out getting downright frustrated and near angry at having to fill out another one. Surely there was a more efficient way! As we were filling out what ended up being the last application, one question stumped us. "Are you willing to be assigned to another county?" Which really meant are you willing to leave a town you’ve been in nearly your whole life, along with your new baby girl, away from all your family, probably your job, for a strange town, maybe in the middle of nowhere South Carolina? A little checkmark. On paper it was insignificant. A little stroke of a pencil. But how much more it meant. We checked that checkbox over eight years ago. Scott got the job and we were told had we not checked that little box, he would have been passed over. A dream denied, lives altered. I honestly don’t know where we’d be without that checkmark.
One of the most stressful aspects of adoption so far (and we aren’t far) is the four-page checklist in our application packet. It’s the number one thing the computer will use to match us up to a child. Because of the conditions that children come out of from DSS, it’s near impossible for them to come out unscathed. In almost all cases, these children have been abused and/or neglected in some way. Emotional issues are always present in some form and sometimes physical. And the thing about adoption as the adopter is you get a choice on what you will accept. If you thought deciding what race would fit in your family would be the hard decision, you are sadly mistaken. This list is quite comprehensive. There are checkmarks for cheating, stealing, several for sexual abuse, HIV, cancer, cleft palate and on and on. And not only are these listed, but the severity of it from none, mild, moderate to severe. And not only is the child considered but also the birth parents. In other words, would you accept a child whose parent has HIV? It’s insane really. How do you determine whether a child that has a moderate case of lying and a severe case of cleft palate with a parent who has HIV would fit into your family, whom I should mention has their own list of ailments in one way or the other? It’s a messy thing. But be sure, these checkmarks will change a life. Nay, many lives.
Adoption though is so connected to God and the way His Kingdom works. First and not the least is the command to us to take care of orphans.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27
That’s going to look very different in each of our lives but be sure, it ought to reflect some part of your life. In ours in this season, it is adoption. And what a beautiful way this particular action reflects how God adopts us. Verse after verse proclaim that we are God’s sons and daughters, becoming one of the family, receiving every inheritance that Christ receives as the Son of God.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God John 1:12
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ Romans 8:15
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons,
the redemption of our bodies Romans 8:23
He predestined us to be adopted as his sons
through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. Ephesians 1:5
To redeem them that were under the law,
that we might receive the adoption of sons. Galatians 4:5
We are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26).
And when I think about that, I think about the pages and pages of a checklist God must have on me. One ailment or another that I carry a mild to severe case of. Jealousy. Anger. Stealing. Cheating. Pride. Lying. The checklist is endless. Four pages wouldn’t begin to cover it. And yet, God, without question, went over to the Severe checkbox of every single line and said YES, I will accept her no matter what. God said YES!
And you’d think those were the checkmarks that changed my life. And indeed in many ways it’s a part of what changed my life. I have a heavenly Father that treats me as His own. Loves me. Wants good for me. Gives me every good gift. And yet, it was another lone checkmark that planted the seed of change. One stroke of a pencil that really made the difference. The one where I said yes to him. The one where I let him be my Father. To love me. To give me every good gift. Because here’s the thing about God. His gift of adoption is conditional on your checkmark. It’s the one labeled faith. And sometimes you have to leave everything you’ve known as home to follow Him. You may have to move. Leave family. Lose friends. You will for certain lose yourself.
But it’s so worth it. It makes all the difference. One stroke. One checkmark. The little one that changes your life.