What is the first thought that pops into your mind when you think of the word adoption? For different people it may mean different things and convey differing emotions. Some have been adopted and the reality of this new family afforded them a life they could have only dreamed of. Others have been adopted and the trauma of that experience, whether in one home or from home to home, dramatically affected them.
I once watched a move called ‘Instant Family’ which highlighted both realities. A couple unable to have children decided to adopt a family of three siblings who were quite some years apart in age. This was a very touching movie as we watched the children grow through anger, fear and mistrust of the parents to finally truly being a family. It was no easy task, but ultimately the love they gave to the siblings conquered.
The Oxford Dictionary describes an adoption as the action or fact of legally taking another’s child and bringing it up as one’s own, or the fact of being adopted. It also defines an adoption as the action or fact of choosing to take up, follow, or use something.
The Bible explains
‘but to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God (St John chapter 1 verse 12–13, NLT).’
Initially, although I know God is wholesome and amazing as an adoptive father, being an adopted child did not seem as stellar as being a legitimate child. It was not until I started to do a study on our identity in Christ that I got a thorough understanding of who an adopted child really is. To get that full understanding, we must first know ancient Roman law which was applicable to this biblical truth.
Ancient Roman law
Ancient Roman law is quite something.To ensure the continuity of one’s generation/succession, sons were of paramount importance to families, specifically wealthy ones. For those that could not or did not have a son, Roman law allowed for adoption as this was one of the ways to guarantee succession and family legacy. This benefited their society in that low-income families would put up their sons for adoption to ensure their future care and an inheritance, while taking the funds from the adoption to provide for the rest of the family.
What was more interesting or far from our reality today was that adoption took on a powerful meaning for Romans. Parents had the ability to disown their legitimate children for various reasons, but the laws of adoption provided that an adopted child could never be disowned. They became a co-heir/joint sharer to their parents’ wealth and this was an irrevocable status.
A child adopted in Rome meant two essential things:
· That child was freely chosen by the parents, desired by the parents.
· That child would be a permanent part of the family; parents could not disown a child they adopted.
An adopted child received a new identity, and any prior commitments, responsibilities and debts were erased. New rights and responsibilities were assigned to them. It was almost as if they automatically received a new life.
What this means for us as Christians
So, when Paul speaks of us as being adopted sons, I now realise how deeply powerful that is. As Jewish law had no precedence for adoptions, he most assuredly spoke in the context of Roman law and the fact that being adopted was a most powerful status to the child.
Unlike in contemporary society when being adopted comes with a more negative connotation, in those times, it meant a whole new world of opportunities and life.
‘For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”’ (Romans chapter 8, verse 15).
Through Jesus Christ, we are brought into the power of sonship and nothing can separate us from that reality.
‘He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, (Ephesians chapter 1, verse 5).’
It is an amazing feeling to know that when God takes us as his own, we are made co-heirs with his Son, fully desired, fully wanted, fully loved and a part of the greatest family ever.
The Bible has so many verses about this reality. It therefore makes it incredibly hard to forget who and whose we are and what that ultimately means for us.
This was mind-blowing for me and I have never looked at the term ‘adopted sons’ the same after doing this lesson.
Always remember ‘And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Romans chapter 8, verse 23).’
‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (St. John chapter 1, verse 12).’
‘So that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Galatians chapter 4, verse 5).’
Never forget the powerful truth of sonship; of being an adopted son.
Kimberley Salmon from Jamaica West Indies is a praise and worship leader who remains passionate about touching hearts through singing and writing as she thrives to become a published author of Christian women’s fiction. She loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is grateful for God’s saving grace which continues to transform her life. As a senior Press Service International Columnist, she is elated that she can now share her journey with God with the world.