On Not Being Adopted

When I was a little girl (about 4 years old), we lived in a house that had a big yard (by four-year-old standards) and was near enough to some friends of ours whose two girls were around our age. What more could a kid want? A yard and friends - I was pretty content. Problem was, our foursome (my big sister, Cathy, me, Sheryl - Cathy's age, and Janice, younger than I was), had three who were similar and one who was different. Guess who the different one was? That's right. So, all was not well with my little contented world. And there was nothing I could do to change it.

You see, my parents had longed for children. They had tried and tried and tested and waited and hoped and prayed... and after 9 years, still no baby. The doctors had told my Mom, 'You will never conceive.' She was devastated and continued to hope and dream of bearing a child - a conglomeration of DNA from her dear husband and herself. After such a long wait, they decided to look into adoption, and were delighted to discover a beautiful baby girl in a Hong Kong orphanage (where they were living at the time, and have ever since), who was 'adoptable'. They named her Catherine, and she is my big sister.

Every child loves to hear his or her story - of coming into the world, of coming into this family - whether through adoption or birth - kids' love the telling of their own story. I heard about my sister being specially 'chosen'. And, to my parents' credit - they told me plenty of my own story - about how much they longed for a child, and they couldn't have one, but that God made me in spite of all the obstacles and that it was pretty much a miracle - so much so, that the doctor who proclaimed my Mom infertile, would not believe the news until he listened to my heartbeat from within her!

But it was my sister's story that I was jealous of. And my two playmates - Sheryl and Janice - well, they too had their own adoption stories. My sister and playmates were Asian - and I thought they were beautiful. Four girls - three black-haired beauties and one freckled red-head. Now, my parents assured me I was pretty enough too (I think!) and I didn't talk a lot about my longings. But one day while my Mom was at Church practicing the organ, the pianist was walking in and found me forlorn on the front steps of the Church (Kowloon Baptist in Hong Kong, for the record), sobbing my eyes out.

"Why Sarah! What's the matter? Why are you crying?"
"It's because I'm not CHINESE and I'm NOT ADOPTED!!!" I burst out. I lamented these two unchangeable facts about myself. How I longed to be chosen - to be sought after - to not have just happened, even though I knew my parents wanted me very much too.

It is easy as little children to want what we don't have, or to want what someone else has. And I wanted their story - to be needy and helpless and to be loved enough to be sought and chosen.

It took me many years of theological growth and development to discover that I could never change not being Chinese, but that I could change being adopted.

As I studied Scripture, and as a family, we memorized Romans 8 when I was about 12, we learned some significant truths about adoption.

Mom explained to me that when they adopted Cathy, they went before a judge and the judge told them that in the eyes of the law, Cathy was fully their child - as much as a 'DNA' child - and even moreso. Because a natural birth mother can relinquish her rights to her child and give that child up for adoption. But an adoptive parent, in the eyes of British/Hong Kong law, can never sever that tie - by taking on this child, he/she is sealed to those parents forever. Nothing can legally separate that tie. Mom explained that British law must have at some level been influenced in past centuries by the invading Romans, whose law held to something very similar.

When we learned Romans 8, about our adoption into God's family, I understood how precious my adoption truly is. Though I am not adopted into an earthly, physical family, I can revel in my adoption into God's family - and that tie can never be severed.


  1. Here are the verses in Romans 8 I am referring to, along with one from Ephesians which parallels these thoughts:

    Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory...23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

    ‎"In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."
    Ephesians 1:4-6 (ESV)

  2. This is a precious post...
    And I love the adoption verses you quoted at the end.
    Smiling thinking of a little one wanting-so-much-to-have-an-adoption-story (as we have both biological and adopted kiddos as well)...and then the adoption story given to you from Him. Love those connections...

    1. Thanks Kara - I still often reflect on my longing to be adopted.

  3. Loved this post! And thank you for showing me the importance of making my biological children feel as chosen and special as their adopted brother.

    1. Thanks Tresta... I never thought I'd be speaking to people about their parenting of adopted kids (especially since I don't have adopted kids...yet), but it is good to get an idea how kids can perceive things...


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