As Christians, we like to liken adoption to our own relationship with God. After all, John 1:12 states that “to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Yet by adopting us as His own, God in no way denies us our earthly parents. In fact, we are commanded to honor and respect them: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), So that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the Earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

God is not threatened by our relationship with our parents, so why do so many of us feel threatened by our children’s relationships (or potential relationships) with their birth parents? Of course, we are not perfect, and so we are prone to human weaknesses such as jealousy, self-consciousness, and pride. But we do have a divine example for how to be adoptive parents, don’t we?

And when we feel threatened by derogatory terminology such as “real parents” being tossed around, why not reflect on 1 John 3:1, which states: “the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.” If people won’t recognize our claim to the inheritance we have in the Lord, then how can we expect more when it comes to our claim to human relationships formed via adoption?

While not everyone is called to adopt, some are. If you feel a pulling on your heart, spend some time on the following verse and see what the Holy Spirit wants to tell you through it. “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me,” said Jesus in Matthew 18:5. Think about that for a second. If you welcome a child into your home, in God’s eyes, it is one and the same as though you were opening your home to Christ Himself.

Furthermore, in James 1:27, it says that “pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans.” Now, again, not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to care for orphans in some capacity. For some of us, this does indeed mean adopting them into our families and making them our own children.

What’s more, don’t let naysayers discourage you if you’re considering international or transracial adoption. Look at what the Lord has to say in John 11. In verse 51, Caiaphas the high priest prophesied that Jesus would die, but not only for the nation of Israel. Verse 52 continues: “not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.” Remember, we are all God’s children, all siblings to each other. There are no relevant distinctions between believers, for we are all “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

According to Romans 8:15-16, we “received God’s Spirit when he adopted [us] as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” In the same way, once adopted, our children affirm that they are our children through and through when they call us mom and dad. What more do we need to know that we are a family?