Growing Your Family Tree

Years ago, a family member died and a casual comment was made that my dear cousin should be listed as the deceased adopted daughter while her other children should should be listed as children. I think my blood boiled. Or froze. What? Adopted daughter?  Better read the definition of adopted- AGAIN!

ADOPT’ED, participle passive Taken as one’s own; received as son and heir; selected for use. (Webster’s 1828)


Thanks, Noah Webster for setting the record straight. Son and heir. In the family tree, not off to side in the field as if he is some sort of fungus growing out of the soil shared by the family. An outsider. Not an insider.

In the adoption world, the family tree is a tough issues. Some parents ignore it, others look up genealogies in other countries,tracing birth family history. Some joke about it, brushing it off as unimportant. But, it is. Heritage is important. Family trees are important. They give us a foundation, an answer to who we are, where we came from. There are many things we cannot change for our children. We cannot change their beginnings. We cannot change where they were born or whom they were born to. We cannot change their skin color, eye color or stature. We cannot change what time in history they were born or whether they lived through wars or famines. Those are forever part of their story. What is changeable is their family tree. We parents can try to take credit for the adoption, the stacks of paperwork, the INS forms or the foster/adopt classes or cleaning the cobwebs out of the corners of our family room for the home study, but there  is only one who has the power to orchestrate the event of adoption- that is God, the Father. He sets the fatherless in families.

It is God who grows our family tree…..

IMAG1133Because He sets the solitary in families. He gives the family tree a new branch. Not us. Not a piece of paper. Not a judge. Not INS approval. It is written before the world began that we should be adopted, set apart as His own. I won’t spend a great deal of time on my favorite adoption section of the Bible. Ephesians 1 says it all. I know I use that verse often, but it is worth repeating.

 “For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[b]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—” Ephesians 1:5

We can hang our family photo on the tree right next to Moses,  David, Joseph and Mary. See me? I’m that freckle-faced ginger next to Jesus. That smile took three years of braces!

Wait. Isn’t this just theology? I mean isn’t our adoption into the family of God some sort of celestial-floaty thing? I mean, what does it have to do with physical adoption and real life?

 theology-the field of study and analysis that treats things of God and of God’s attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity.(

What we study about God’s attributes and His relation to us is REALITY. Right? Our physical and spiritual lives should be a closely woven mesh, so close that you cannot separate the two.

“Adoption, is on the one hand gospel. In this, adoption tells us who we are as children of the Father. Adoption as gospel tells us about our identity, our inheritance, and our mission as sons of God….” -Russell Moore, Adopted for Life

You cannot separate the theology and reality of adoption. I can see myself on the large family tree of God and my adopted children grafted into my family tree (with their own history intact). They are my real children just as I am a real child of God by His grace and because it was His kind intent. If not, I am in big trouble and so are you.


Can you imagine God gluing photos on the family tree and saying, “Moses, he’s my real child, his leaf goes here. But, Kathleen, she doesn’t make the family tree, she’s just a mushroom over to the side. We let her grow in the shade on the side of the tree.” Thanks be to God for the truth!

“See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) us is that it does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.”- I John 3:1

It is God who restores. It is He who puts families together in this imperfect world. Adopted is a past tense verb. It is He who grows your family tree.

“You do not choose your family. they are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”- Desmond Tutu

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