By Matt Capps
How God Changed My Heart Toward Adoption
When I was younger I never envisioned myself as an adoptive father. Adoption was alien to me as a familial concept, and the reality of orphans was nothing more than an abstract category in my mind. I assume that all men at some point in their maturation imagine family life and what it will be like to be a father. Regrettably, I never anticipated the joy of being the father of an adopted son.
For over a year Laura and I tried to conceive a child through natural means. The frustration of our struggle became an ever present reality in our marriage and fluctuated between acceptance and disappointment. Being at the age when most couples conceive and gift birth to children only exasperated our desire to be parents. Our infertility lowered like a dark cloud on the both of us until the possibility of adoption broke through like warm light on both of our hearts. The hopeful possibility of raising an adopted child first settled on Laura’s heart, and much later on my own; and I am glad it did. Our adoption has taught me more about God’s grace and the gospel than I could have ever imagined.
How God Transformed My Understanding of Familial Heritage
As with most men, there is a drive deep down in my soul to raise children that will continue the family name and lineage. Part of my disappointment in our inability to bear natural children was the reoccurring vision of a child reflecting our image and idiosyncrasies, a child that would never be. Or so I thought. After we had already started the process of adoption I remember coming to a truth that helped reshape my understanding of lineage and heritage. I realized that my primary goal as a temporary trustee of a child is to pass on the gospel faith (Ephesians 6:4). As a father, I have been entrusted with our child by God as a sacred stewardship. Perhaps this is an advantage that I have as an adoptive dad. When I see his beautiful brown skin and look into his dark eyes, I am reminded of this temporary stewardship.
Though not in mine, our son has been created in the image of his Heavenly Father. I anticipate that he will, like every other child, struggle to find his place and identity in this world. My prayer is that he will come to see that adoption, if it is about anything, is about belonging. Prayerfully, the experience of adoption will give him a deeper understanding of the gospel. As a father, I have pulled him into our household and declared that he is one of us. In a similar way, it is through Jesus that we are declared sons of God (Galatians 4:6). An adopted child is not the natural offspring of his adopted parents, but neither is their presence in the household an accident. Just like the ancient world, when Paul explored the doctrine of adoption in his letter to the Galatians, being brought into a new family meant that not only was there a change in status, but also new expectations were placed on the child as a son or daughter (Galatians 4:7). It is my calling to leave a heritage of Christ to our son, just like we see in Matthew 5; where Jesus teaches that children of the Father are called to reflect their family likeness in their conduct. The most important aspect of my role as a father is to point him to Jesus through my own faith and repentance. This is much more important that passing on any physical characteristics. Although children possess the physical characteristics of their parents, this is by far the least of all the ways in which they reflect their parents. Consider all the people my son will encounter who do not know Laura and I. How Solomon lives his life – how he’s been taught and raised – will be the truest reflection of our parenting, not the color of his eyes or the shape of his nose.
How God Revealed His Gracious Providence in Our Adoption
As I wrote above, the road to adoption wasn’t easy, but it was a road worth traveling. In fact, it was a road that God set us upon for a purpose. Laura and I had the unique privilege of meeting and talking with our son’s birth mother, something I will never forget. Near the end of our time with her I asked her a question and her answer made the providence of God as palpable as the hot Ethiopian air that afternoon. Knowing that we were about to walk out of that room and most likely never see her again, I asked her what her prayer has been, and would be, for Solomon. Not knowing what Laura and I believed, she explained that she was a protestant Christian and wanted Solomon to know Jesus. With tears streaming down my face I told her that we were both believers and that he was being welcomed into a family that would tell and show him of the beauty of the gospel. By the grace of God I can now see His providential hand in our lives, and in the life of our son.
Following that moment, Laura and his birthmother hugged one another, their embrace silently and beautifully declaring that their prayers had been answered. As we walked out of that room and got into our van with Solomon I remember being blown away at the providence of God in this situation. We lived worlds apart. Unable to raise her child on her own and wanting him to have a different life, Solomon’s birthmother entrusted him into God’s care and prayed that he would find a Christian home. We, being unable to bear natural children, entered into the adoption process trusting that God’s perfect will would be made manifest in our lives. Thankfully God saw it fit to providentially allow our paths to cross in a significant exchange. In God’s world there are no “plan B’s”. Long before we made the plan to adopt, and long before our son was born, God planned for him to be in our home (Acts 17:26). We may have had the privilege of knowing the backstory in our situation, but God’s sovereign hand is the same in every adoptive family and with every adoptive child (Psalm 139).
I count our adoption as a great privilege and stewardship granted by God. When we celebrate birthdays, watch movies as a family, and wrestle like superheroes I am reminded of the beauty of adoption that brought us together as a family. This child who was once an orphan now loves me and calls me daddy. When I look at him I don’t see our differences, I see my son. The first time I held him as a baby in the agency house on a hillside in Africa, I fell in love with him. As we stood in front of the judge in Addis Ababa and she pronounced that we were his parents, I felt the weight of the profound task of fatherhood. Though I am not a perfect father, here are two things I do know: God providentially arranged for Solomon to be in our family, and I am called to continue the Christian heritage passed unto me by my own father – both in gospel word, and kingdom deed.
Matt Capps currently serves as the Brand Manager for The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, TN . Matt is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and is currently a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.). Matt blogs here. You can find him on Twitter @mattcapps.
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