Adoption in the Nativity Story

For Christians, the nativity story is a familiar one at this time of the year. Mary and Joseph are engaged and traveling to Bethlehem to be counted for the census. Mary, who is a virgin, is pregnant with God’s child, and all of the hotels are filled to the brim with travelers. Mary and Joseph find refuge in a stable and baby Jesus is born, amongst the animals, dirt, and hay. Shepherds and kings eventually come to find him and bring him great gifts, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah.

A lot of attention is given to Mary, and rightly so: She’s a very young girl who is pregnant, unwed, still a virgin, and about to give birth to Jesus, but I’d like to focus on Joseph for the majority of this article because that’s where the adoption connection comes into play. Joseph is not Jesus’ biological father, however, he sticks by Mary throughout her pregnancy and vows to raise this child as his own.

I’m not sure about other adoptive moms out there, but I think it’s safe to say adoption is not typically the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about expanding your family; however, for me it was a much more natural “next step” than for my husband. I know I don’t IMG_7414speak for all adoptive fathers, so forgive the generalizations, but I’m speaking from my own experience. My husband wanted to exhaust all options before even discussing adoption. He worried about what the guys at work would think when he told them he was adopting a child. He also thought that adoption meant “giving up” in the journey to have a biological child. And he wasn’t ready to “share” our child with another set of parents.

I imagine Joseph had some similar thoughts while riding with Mary to Bethlehem. “What are people thinking? We aren’t married, and this child isn’t even biologically mine!”  “Will Mary and I ever have our ‘own’ child?”  “Does this mean Jesus will want to visit with his father?”

People talked. People talked so much that it’s written in the Bible that Joseph was going to divorce Mary quietly until the Angel of God came to him and told him to stay with Mary and raise this child as his own. Joseph stayed with Mary. He raised Jesus as his own, even taught him the family carpentry business, and was there and understood when Jesus went missing and came back saying he was talking with “his father.”

Greg Wasinski, a Catholic speaker of Let Me Be Ministries said, “ . . . the key word is “family.” Mary could have just had the child by herself and gotten by with grace of God protecting her. Instead, He placed Joseph in the role of earthly father so we could see how important each role of parenting is, not only for the child but for the spouse. And certainly they were a family in every sense of the word, including moving during the pregnancy, a birthplace which was not what they envisioned, and even to the point of losing their son in “on vacation” when he was a teenager. (Lk 2:41-44) Like us, they had to learn every step of the way from the moment they took their first step together.”

Just like my husband loves our son, strong, faithful, trusting Joseph loved Jesus. Adoption is close to human hearts and close to God’s heart. Remember, God trusted human Joseph to raise His own son, and He trusts us to continue to raise our children with love that surpasses biology.