Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
~1 John 3:1a
In honor of Mother's Day and Father's Day this year, I wanted to share with you a story about some amazing friends of ours who chose to become parents in the most unlikely, extraordinary, I-love-this-story-so-much-it-melts-my-heart-every-time-I-think-about-it way. This newly married couple are the kind of people that just make you think "wow" and inspire you to be a better person; to look beyond yourself and your own life for ways to help others. Even if that means personal sacrifice.
We met this young couple when they were still engaged. It didn't take longer than, oh, maybe a third of a second seeing them together to realize they were head-over-heels in love with each other. Ahhh, young love. So sweet. So new. So seemingly untried (or so I thought before really getting to know this couple).
And then we were privileged to attend their wedding. Now I have been to quite a lot of weddings, let me tell you. Theirs was by far one of the best weddings I have ever witnessed. My husband agreed. Did I mention I've been to a lot of weddings? Hello, semiprofessional wedding singer here. I've been to all kinds of weddings. And theirs stands out among the rest as extra-special. I wasn't quite sure at the time why that was. But now I know. They are an extra-special couple with some of the biggest hearts I have ever seen in action.
Soon after getting married, Mr. and Mrs. Z went through the process of becoming foster parents. Okay, can I just start off right now by saying that this, in and of itself, flabbergasted me? I can't think of another young newlywed couple I personally know, or have ever heard of, who desired to become foster parents during their first year of marriage. Aren't you supposed to focus only on each other and get to know one another better during that first year of romantic, wedded bliss?
Well, I think I can speak for most married people by saying that the last thing most newlyweds would think of doing is invite a needy child into their brand-new family and home. I simply cannot fathom the selfless, benevolent desire that this couple had to do just that, when they had every right to spend all their time and attention on each other during their first year, or their first few years, together.
But not this twosome. They were already thinking about adopting before they were even married. And here is where the story gets good. Really, amazingly good. Do yourself a favor and go grab the nearest box of Kleenex right now. Seriously, trust me. Go get it.
Okay, ready? So before she ever got married, Mrs. Z (obviously she wasn't Mrs. Z yet, but you know who I mean) dreamed of either foster parenting or adopting, or both. It was always a dream and goal she had for her life. After she knew that Mr. Z was her Mr. Right, she shared with him this very important desire of her heart. Though not quite sure of that dream for himself, Mr. Z went along with it.
Yet, some time later, Mr. Z was hanging out with the guys and mentioned to them his girlfriend's desire to foster parent or adopt someday. One of the men pulled Mr. Z aside and told him that his baby granddaughter had recently been taken away from her mother by Children's Protective Services. And if Mr. Z and his future wife were serious about foster parenting and/or adopting, would they consider taking care of this little girl?
The reason that Little Girl M had been taken away by CPS is that her mother had been found neglectful due to drug and alcohol abuse. The grandfather also told Mr. Z that his son would most likely not try to take over custody of the baby. Nor did it look promising that the mother would be able to regain legal custody in the time required before her parental rights would be taken away by the court.
This is the part of the story that makes me cry sad tears. Not only had the birth mother been neglectful in caring for her infant, but she had also admitted to drinking alcohol and doing cocaine during her pregnancy. I have no idea what circumstances and struggles this poor mother has faced in her life that led her to drug and alcohol abuse. I feel an achingly empty sadness when a mother loses her child - in any way. I can only imagine the twofold pain of having your child taken away because you are seen as an unfit parent. Just the thought of that happening to me seems unbearable. So I am in no way casting judgment on parents who lose the custody rights of their children. No, on the contrary, I grieve for them and their loss and pray that through God’s grace they will experience freedom and healing through Christ.
However, because of this poor woman's life circumstances, choices, and addictions, Little Girl M was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. By the time she was rescued from her unsafe home, Little Girl M was only one year old and very, very small, underweight, and underdeveloped for her age. She couldn't talk or walk yet. She was way behind developmentally, in all areas of growth. Her doctors were afraid that she'd never be able to walk and would need a wheelchair all her life. They thought she would also have many other special needs for the remainder of her lifetime.
Little Girl M was taken in by a foster family that already had a few other foster children. Both foster parents worked, so all the foster children spent much of their time at a daycare center. This situation, although much better than what she came from, was still unfortunate for Little Girl M because she couldn't get the vital attention and therapy that she so desperately needed to start overcoming her rough start to life. Things didn't look very hopeful for Little Girl M. Or so everyone thought...
Well, after talking with the grandfather, Mr. Z told soon-to-be Mrs. Z about Little Girl M. They both felt like it was the right thing to do for them to start the foster parenting process so that they could someday, hopefully, adopt her. All before they had ever even seen what she looked like or found out all the details of her special needs. And all before they'd even tied the knot. Simply…amazing.
And this is where my sad tears turn happy. I mean, they could have adopted a healthy, newborn baby, right? But no, once this couple heard about this precious little girl who desperately needed the right care and a loving home, they were determined that they would be the ones to meet her many needs and love her for the rest of her life. They would willingly become her new parents, taking her into their home, along with whatever physical, mental, and emotional problems she may have. And commit to being her father and mother forever. It just blows my mind. The selfless, unconditional love for a child they hadn't even met yet.
Eventually, once they were married and received their foster parent license, they were able to have Little Girl M come live with them. Mr. and Mrs. Z immediately fell in love with the adorable, precious, pint-sized princess. They just knew it was meant to be. And everything that led up to the adoption went very smoothly, better than they could have hoped.
Her new mommy takes her to all her many doctor appointments, physical, speech, and other such therapy sessions, works tirelessly with her teaching her sign language, how to talk, and walk, and so much more. And now because of all this love and excellent care, Little Girl M has amazed her doctors by beating the odds. At just a couple weeks away from turning three-years-old, she can already do so many of the things they thought she'd never be able to do. Her future is full of hope now that she has a safe, secure home and exceptionally loving parents who do whatever it takes to help her grow healthy and strong.
My favorite part of this story is the day that Mrs. Z got something special in the mail soon after the adoption was finalized. She was so excited to receive a copy of Little Girl M's new birth certificate. It had her new last name on it, with Mr. and Mrs. Z's names as her adoptive parents. Oh, the elated joy the couple shared at this piece of paper!
And the crazy-amazing thing about all this is that God the Father pre-planned (predestined) for this to happen to us; He chose us before creation to be adopted through Christ's sacrifice into His family, because He first loved us and was pleased to do (see second key passage, Ephesians 1:3-6). Wow. Just like how Mr. and Mrs. Z pre-planned and chose to adopt Little Girl M to become part of their family because they first loved her and wanted her to be their daughter. What amazing love. What a beautiful, perfect example of God’s unconditional love that He has lavished on us when He takes us as His own and calls us His children (1 John 3:1a). And that is what we are!
More verses about being God's chosen:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
~1 Peter 2:9-10
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.