A few years ago my wife and I provided respite care for some friends of ours who were foster parents. This meant that for 24 hours we got to babysit a child they were fostering named Damien. Damien was six at the time and was a very quiet, respectful, and generally pleasant kid. While we were hanging out with him, we went fishing, ate pizza, watched a Disney movie, played baseball in the backyard, and, per his request, watched golf on Sunday afternoon. It was this last activity that made me look at Elizabeth and ask, “can we keep him?” We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Damien and have fondly reminisced on that special 24 hours on many occasions. 

Though it may sound like Damien was just like any other six-year-old boy, there was something about him that was different. Damien suffered from what is known as reactive attachment disorder (RAD). What caused Damien to develop this illness is truly heart wrenching. When he was an infant, his fundamental need for love and emotional and physical nurturing were not met. What probably took place was, as a baby, Damien would cry out to his parents for help, maybe for hours on end, and no one would come. After years of this sort of neglect Damien naturally stopped expecting care and affection from adults and developed many negative symptoms that hinder his ability to relate and connect with others. Though tragic, here is the best news, God has a plan for Damien. And though that plan involves some struggles, God has called people to care for and adopt the Damien’s of the world and to provide for them what no one else has. Over time, this newfound familial affection will allow them to heal and eventually to flourish.

If you are a believer, this is what God has done for you. Prior to Christ, the apostle Paul writes in Galatians 4 that not only were we slaves who needed liberation but we were also orphans. And as orphans, we were longing for love and soul nurturing support only to find that our cries were to earthly and inept care takers. But then, at just the right time, Jesus purchased our freedom and adopted us into his very own family (Gal. 4:5-6). Now, when we cry out for help, we don’t attempt to get the attention of some surrogate sitter but we speak out to our divine dad (Gal. 4:6). And when we do, we can be confident that our Heavenly Father, who is attentive and always there, will hear our pleas and provide us with everything we need to prosper. 

Questions for Reflection

  1. What comes to mind when you think of adoption? How would you describe the child who is needing to be adopted? When the adopted child legally becomes part of a new household, what things about the child are purposefully overlooked by the new family?
  2. Pastor Jamie said the gift of adoption becomes ours not through being born but through being born again. Is it important to frequently remember our lives before being adopted into God’s family? What practical difference should the truth of adoption make in our lives?