About a year and a half ago we adopted a three-year-old boy. It’s been an incredible journey starting with infertility, going on through IVF, navigating the many processes and procedures to become adoptive parents, to find that having a young life move in with us would change our lives in ways we hadn’t imagined. There have been plenty of reflections during this time, but the one that stands in my mind most is a change in Little Welford, rather than us.
Right from the day we first met him he called us ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’. Before he moved in we spent a total of eight days getting to know him, firstly in his foster home, and then in ours. Having not had children ourselves, it was amazing to be greeted every day with the exclamation – ‘It’s my new Mummy and Daddy!’ And the almost tangible joy that came with it for all of us.
Recently, I have begun to reflect on those early days. Even then it seemed to me that ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ were understood by him as our names rather than our roles. That we were like new toys for him, good to show off, a present all for him that he jealously guarded from his foster siblings. But as time went on and we built routines around each other, some things changed.
There were tell-tale signs, moments when his hug seemed to linger slightly longer, when in a new situation he would grip my hand a little tighter, when walking him to preschool on his birthday I was stopped dead by the overwhelming love I had for him. Times that have shown that we are no longer his possessions – we are his parents; that in some way, he has adopted us. Not, of course, in the way of processes and applications, but in that part of us that chooses, or not, to attach to someone else.
When we were being matched we were given as much information as there was on his life and times. We knew everything about him – especially the struggles he might have and the challenging behaviour he would display. You might say we knew the very worst about him, yet we still choose to adopt him.
He didn’t get any of that. He wasn’t supplied with a list of our faults, the triggers for our tempers. He wasn’t told of all the ways we might not be what he had imagined, the possible illness we would present at a later date. He didn’t know very much about us, yet he still choose to accept – to adopt – us as his parents.
I wonder if people – of all faiths – ever get past the ‘possession’ stage with God; if they see Him as their new toy. The trouble is that when we view God like that, He becomes something to defend, to fight over, to be jealous over, to lord over people. I don’t think God needs us to do any of those things, instead he needs us to adopt Him, to simple enjoy being with Him, to know the loving parent-child relationship he offers. He who knew all our wrongs, all our mistakes, worries and hardship yet still choose to adopt us; us who know very little about God, yet still have a chance to accept, to adopt, Him.