….And with the fall of the gavel it was over.
The judge looked at everyone in the court room slowly and carefully. He then hunched over the desk and scribbled furiously. We could hear his pen scratching the wood of the desk beneath the wood. Every once in a while, he would pick his head up, look around, and then hunch back over. Finally, when he was finished with his mad scribbling he looked up and
He smiled at my wife and me and said, “Congratulations. I know you will make wonderful parents!” The probate court proceedings drew to their close after four months of investigations, filings, hearings, and preparation at home. Hannah was now ours…for keeps. I picked up the baby-carrier and off we went – first to Lourdes Shrine to give thanks and then out for lunch. We had adopted her, and our family grew!
Be Careful What You Pray For
On the day that my wife and I got married, I sat out by the altar and prayed that he would grace me to be a husband to her like St. Joseph had been to Mary. By that, I meant that I would a quiet, positive, supportive help for her. I had not prayed with the foresight to consider Joseph’s fatherly role.
Lesson learned…be careful what you pray for you might just get it.
But, I did pray to be like Joseph, and that’s what happened.
Out of the blue, we received a phone call…no, it wasn’t the Archangel Gabriel, but it might as well have been. It was shortly after Valentine’s Day 2001, and my wife, Janet was having a hurried and clearly shocked conversation. And in a flurry, we were meeting with people and filing paperwork, painting, wall-papering and ordering diapers. It was the middle of February, the baby was going to be born in April, and we had a lot of thinking, praying and preparation to do.
The truth is we weren’t ready. In fact, we had discussed adoption and had felt that there were a lot of pitfalls and had convinced ourselves we would never adopt. We had been trying to have a family without success, and then this. One thing I learned is that there is a difference between doing our will and putting God’s name on it and seeking God’s will and doing it. The difference is results. We were scared, elated, hurried, hassled, and hopeful! Now we had two months to get ready.
Then, on April 17, 2001, as I stood at the counter of my brother-in-law’s store, the phone rang. It was 4:30 PM. As I answered the phone, I heard my wife, in a tired, yet excited voice say, “Hannah’s here.” I looked at my brother-in-law and said, “I gotta go! The baby’s here!” I literally ran all the way from the store to the hospital where I met my daughter for the first time.
She came home with us a few days later. Four months later, the adoption was complete. Four years later, we welcomed our son…Gabriel (go figure) and our family was complete.
Not Only Like St. Joseph
There is no doubt that the day Hannah came home to live with us, right out of the hospital, my prayer had come true, that I was playing the role of Joseph, inviting and accepting someone else’s child to raise as my own. What I missed at the beginning is that Joseph was standing in as a proxy for Someone Else and at the same time symbolized that Someone Else!
That someone else…of course it’s God. Now you may be thinking, “Wait a minute, Joseph is Jesus’ father, taking care of him for God.” You’re right. He is. What I’m getting at is broader. When we come to faith, and more specifically through our baptism, we become adopted children of God. So, Joseph foreshadowed God’s saving act.
Think about it. Unlike “natural child birth,” we chose the child we adopted. We could have said, “No.” It was a decision freely and not lightly made. We also realized that in choosing to adopt there we would be making many sacrifices. In order to adopt, we went through a specified process, including classes that were mandated to ensure that we knew what we were getting into. At the end of the investigations and preparation, we went through a “ceremony” or proceeding overseen by an official of the community who then declared that a covenantal relationship now existed between ourselves and Hannah. She was ours, without condition for life.
In similar fashion, God chose me in Christ, even before I was born. God invited me into this relationship. He could have said, “No.” Instead, he He too sacrificed greatly, His only Son. Because I was baptized as an infant, my parents went through the process and classes that I would have had to do had I been an adult seeking admission into the Church. They knew what they were asking and what that meant. In the end, through the sacrament of Baptism, which was officiated by an official in the Church community, I was adopted, by faith, in a covenantal relationship of Father to son with God.
From or For?
When we were asked to consider adoption, it could have been seen as rescuing both our daughter and her birth mother from a bad situation. While that is partly true, that is not the whole of it.
Let me ask you a question here… do you have a savings account? If you do, why? My guess is that while you are taking money from (saving from) your income, you are doing so with a purpose…that is to say, “What are you saving that money FOR?” The truth is we may or may not know right away what we’re saving for…but it isn’t simply to stockpile money that won’t be used. So too, it was with adopting Hannah. The purpose was to hopefully provide her with a brighter prospect for her future.
Saved For God’s Work
Even so, when God saved me through the waters of Baptism, it wasn’t simply that he was saving me from sin and death, although that is true. He was saving me for a work a vocation in service to him. In the rite of baptism, having been cleansed of original sin, I was anointed with Sacred Chrism as the celebrant said the following words.
He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life."
So What Did You Learn About God in Adopting?
In my mind I always knew these things. But as an adoptive parent, I have learned more about the grace and mercy of God, and understand it in a way that I would not have had I not adopted.
- God loves us unconditionally and for no other reason than he simply chooses to do so.
- Through His grace God has chosen each of us. We did not earn this.
- When we respond to his grace and approach him, he says, “Yes.” He could say, “No,” but doesn’t.
- By virtue of Baptism God has adopted us as his sons and daughters. when at best we should be his servants.
- Baptism is never just about my membership in the Kingdom of God, but my share in the mission of building the kingdom of God which as his adopted son I have a vested interest in seeing be built.
And so, as God’s children, adopted in baptism, we have work to do. As parents, the first vocation we have is to raise our children in the faith and to pray for them.
Do you pray for and with your children?
Do you prayers usually revolve around the ones you learned in childhood?
Do you sometimes wonder what you should pray for?
Do you ever feel totally lost as to what to pray for or about?
If you have any thoughts or suggestions about praying for children, please leave me a comment here!