The Now and Not Yet of Our Adoption

It was an incredible time in our family. We had a new son. Sutton and I, along with our two daughters, had adopted a toddler boy from Ethiopia. On November 11, 2011, we learned that the Ethiopian court approved our adoption. Legally, on that date he became our new baby boy. However, from November 11th, 2001 to February 13th, 2012, although he was our son, he was still in Ethiopia. Many things were set in motion: a new birth certificate being granted by the government, medical tests, the issue of an Ethiopian passport, and a visa application with the US Embassy. On November 11, he was declared our son—he just wasn’t home with us yet.

During that window of time, a friend commented, “What an incredible story of our own adoption by God!”

That comment got Sutton and I thinking of the now-and-not-yet of our adoption as God’s children through Jesus Christ.

Galatians 4:4–6 reads:

“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. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

GOD CHOSE US

Just like we chose our Ethiopian son to be in our family, God chose us to be in his family. We didn’t choose him (John 15:16). In the smallness of our humanity and the enormity of our sin, we cannot conceive of choosing God any more than an orphaned toddler in Ethiopia can conceive of choosing an American couple as his parents.

We accepted the adoption referral months before we ever met him. We chose him way back in April 2011, eight months before he was legally our son, but we knew that one day he would be ours. That little boy had no idea that his life would be changing soon. That he had been chosen to be a part of a new family, and a co-heir with his sisters to the legacy God is creating through us.

We’re the same. We really have no idea how much our life will change when God saves us, how much our life is better, how patiently our Father waits for us. And more importantly, how rich our inheritance that we share with Christ (Romans 8:17).

A SHORT TRIP

In October 2011, we met our Ethiopian son for the first time. We only spent two very short days with him. We played with him, we comforted him, we rocked him to sleep. We made that very short trip into our son’s world to make his adoption official, to appear before a judge in court, and to accept him as our son.

Jesus made a short trip into our world as well. As he led the disciples, he comforted them and trained them, too. Then, he had to leave.

The purpose of Jesus’ short trip into our world was to make our adoption official by dying for sin in our place and restoring our relationship with the Father. 

Only through his leaving us by his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, is our adoption into the kingdom of God even possible.

THEN, WE WAITED

From that first time meeting with our son to the time we got the call four months later that his visa was approved, we waited. We waited for the unexpected call that we could go back to our son’s world and bring him into ours.

Similarly, we wait for that unexpected call when God brings us into his world through eternal life. And we all wait for when Jesus comes back into our world and we are a united family—when we are not only declared his adopted children but also present with our heavenly Father.

In the waiting for our son to be with us, I found that I was anxious and impatient, but I also realized that my love for our son grew deeper every day we were apart.

During those days, our hearts were in Seattle, but our hearts were also there in Ethiopia. In the now-and-not-yet of our Ethiopian adoption, I got a glimpse of the overwhelming love our Father has for us. We are the now and not yet children of our Father. Now adopted into his family. Not yet with him.

— Marci Turner

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