November 16, 2021
As a kid, every time I was heavily reprimanded for something I did and I’d feel very emotional, I would usually run to my parents’ bedroom and desperately look for something. I would check all the envelopes or flip through book pages, hoping that I could finally see adoption papers.
You see, as a young child, I got this idea from soap operas that if your parents weren’t treating you right, you were probably adopted. Obviously, this was all drama, but our media and culture had been inculcating in our minds that adoption is negative or something ugly.
“Ampon” has been used in a myriad of ways to insult someone. It can mean that a person is so unworthy that their biological parents gave them up. It implies that someone does not belong in their current family. Though sometimes said as a joke, “adopted” has become another label used as a form of rejection.
However, we will find that a message of adoption is the total opposite of what our culture and media show. In the Bible, there are many verses and stories that highlight adoption and even the story of Jesus Himself started and ended with adoption.
Joseph was the husband of Mary who was found to be pregnant before they got married. Despite this, he accepted Jesus as his son (Matthew 1:18–25). In essence, Jesus was adopted by Joseph before he was born. Then, towards the end of Jesus’ earthly life, seeing His mother Mary, He declared John to be her son (John 19:26–27).
But more than these pictures of adoption in the life of Jesus, the entire message of the gospel is about us being adopted into God’s family, becoming His children.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Because of sin, we became enemies of God, and our hearts were set to hate Him and worship ourselves. Christ changed all that by dying on the cross and coming back to life after three days, defeating the power of sin and death in our lives. And all who believed in Jesus were adopted as children of God.
By being adopted, we receive full rights as biological children, meaning the law does not see any difference. In fact, in the Philippines, once someone has gone through the entire process of adoption, the old birth certificate will be torn up and a brand new birth certificate replaces it, leaving no trace of the previous one. It’s as if the one adopted was born into that family.
We know this not just as a fact but on a personal level. My wife and I adopted a very beautiful baby girl, and we celebrated her birthday recently. Not once have we ever felt that she was not born from us. She is our daughter, and no opinion on earth can ever change that. If we humans—with our limited capacity for love and acceptance—can feel this toward our child, imagine how much more precious we are to the Father who paid the price, so we too can be part of His family?
We hope that our daughter will grow up secure in her identity as our child and more importantly, in her identity in Christ. May her story be like our friend Rachel’s, who was proud she was adopted twice first by her parents and most importantly, by God, when He made her His own.
I can say that we have something in common with our daughter from the onset: We can somehow relate to the gift of being an “ampon.” I’m grateful that we get to live out and experience the gospel with her in the flesh.
Yes, in Filipino culture, being adopted may be used as an insult denoting rejection and usually implies that someone is of a lower status compared to biological children.
But, in the Bible, it is the exact opposite. It means we are chosen and fully accepted, and we belong to the Father as we are called His own.
The more my wife and I get to understand this, the more we realize that adoption is a Christian calling.
It has been our prayer that more and more Christian families would consider adoption, especially because there are about 1.8 million abandoned or neglected children in the Philippines and a significant number of those kids ending up as victims of human trafficking here and abroad. Imagine if more and more Christians take up arms and receive these children into their own homes, love them with the love of God, and inevitably change their lives.
Adoption helps save some of these children.
Adoption is about discipling the next generation.
Adoption can change the world.