Saturday, November 22, 2014, was National Adoption Day. We had the privilege of celebrating that day by finalizing the adoption of our foster son, who we named Samuel.
Despite the heavy rain on that day, the inside of the church hosting the adoption celebration was bright and cheerful. Our state agency had arranged for a judge to come to the celebration to finalize the adoptions of over a dozen children, all former foster children who are now in forever families. It was a beautiful thing.
But as I looked around the room, I realized that the children were part of their forever families long before a judge made it official.
I saw moms and dads and grandparents and siblings all what moms and dads and grandparents and siblings do. Moms were helping with plates, dads were holding restless kids, grandparents were stealing kisses, and siblings were playing (or picking on each other, whichever the case may be). In other words, the room was filled with normal families doing normal family things. It was difficult to tell which children were being adopted because they fit in so beautifully with the loved ones around them.
Although adoption, which ultimately stems from loss, isn’t the first choice for any child, I’m constantly amazed at how God chooses the perfect forever family for each one. Little Sam joined our family over six months ago. Even though he wasn’t legally our son, we were his parents. He called us Mommy and Daddy from the beginning. We kissed the boo boos. We tucked him in at night. We were the ones he cried for. We were the ones he looked for in a crowd. We were his parents and he was our kid. Period.
Adoption is a funny thing. It has a defining moment—the moment of finalization—when you legally become the parent. You even get to put your name on a brand new birth certificate as if you gave birth to the child yourself. But that moment doesn’t make you a parent any more than putting on feathers makes you a duck. It’s the day-to-day stuff that makes you a parent. It’s choosing to love the child that God has placed in your life, even when it’s difficult. It’s fun times and tantrums and belly laughs and discipline. It’s the wonder and heartache that all parents feel, no matter how their family was formed.
I’m thrilled that our adoption is finalized, don’t get me wrong. It will be nice to get on with our lives without monthly and quarterly visits from state workers. Now we can travel with Sam and make medical decisions for him and all the other privileges of parenthood. He finally shares our last name and all the rights and responsibilities thereof. As he grows he will know that he was wanted and cherished.
Tonight I’m sitting in Sam’s room while I type. A few minutes ago I read him some books and rocked him to sleep in my lap, just like I have many times over the past few months. I looked down on his sweet, fuzzy little head and I couldn’t love him any more than if he had been born from my own body. That love didn’t start when the judge signed our adoption decree. It was there all along.