Adoption – A Father’s Perspective Day 7: The New Normal, Revised Version
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1, ESV).
When you adopt a 16-month-old girl, your “new normal” gets reset and revised many times. Unlike a biological child with your DNA, whom you have raised from birth, an adopted child often has many layers that must be peeled back. As we got to know and understand Lacey over time, we have slowly been able to peel all the layers back to her beautiful core. Adoption takes an immense amount of patience, grace, and understanding—three things I hate to admit have been in short supply in my life as an adoptive (and biological) father. And just to think that in less than four years, I’ll be sharing a house with three teenaged daughters!
As much as Lacey loves and looks up to her older sisters, she doesn’t completely mimic them. She has her own interests and desires. While they are getting all dressed up for school, she would rather wear a hoodie and leggings. She’s excelled at gymnastics, and loves playing soccer, basketball, and generally all things sports. Her exceptional abilities are blatantly not from me! She’s a genius at school. She loves to eat anything that’s unhealthy, which she may have inherited from me. But she’s also somewhat adventurous with food, which I hope leads to a love of trying new foods with her dad. She is wonderfully unique.
Sometimes I find myself forgetting she’s adopted, but then the reminders come. When we have to fill out her family health history, we leave it blank. When we are puzzled by anything to do with her genetic makeup, we remember that we have no clue what her birth parents look like. When children at school are cruel, doing things like inventing a club for children who live with the parents that “had them,” we inwardly seethe, and remember. But these are also some of the times that make us realize how much we love her. She’s our girl, and we’ll do anything for her.
Now I’ll come back full circle to Steven Curtis Chapman. His song “When Love Takes You In” has a very poignant lyric. Some of the questions that bounce around the mind are, Will I love her like I love my other daughters? What if I play favorites? Mr. Chapman likens it to rain falling in the ocean. Once a raindrop meets the water, can you identify the drop anymore? Of course not! It’s now part of the ocean, even though it still holds its unique characteristics. It is a single raindrop but is now melded into something greater. As so it is with adoption, from our perspective. We don’t speak of her as our adopted daughter; she’s our daughter. She has her unique characteristics, as we all do, but she has been melded into something greater. She is forever a completely irreplaceable part of our family. Our family would be incomplete without her. She isn’t identified by her past but by her future. As the song goes, “And like the rain that falls into the sea/In a moment, what has been is lost in what will be.”
This leads me to the verse at the beginning of this devotion. I can’t possibly enumerate all that Lacey has brought into our family. She’s given us joy, life lessons, love, affection, reasons to beam with pride, and so much more. She brought so much to the table. Who wouldn’t have wanted to scoop her up and hold her forever? But I think of 1 John 3:1 in the context of me. What did I bring to the table for God? As un undeserving sinner, I offered Him nothing at all. So what does that say about the magnitude of His love? In spite of my shortcomings, He lavished His love on me and adopted me into His family. I’m no longer defined by my past but identified by my future. I’m His child forever, and that is something that will never change! Just as Lacey is forever my daughter, I am forever God’s child! His mercy and grace are far more than I could ever deserve. I’m that raindrop, lost in a sea of His rich grace. It’s a perspective that I owe to my daughter.
Being Lacey’s dad has taught me a lot about myself, and much of it hasn’t been all that great. I’m still learning lessons and striving to love and cherish her as she deserves to be loved. I’m still trying to grow in patience, grace, and understanding. But man, do I ever love that little girl! I am so grateful that God crashed my world with this beautiful, goofy, frustrating, rowdy, lovable, incomparable masterpiece.