“Are you going to have any of your own children?” he asked. Confused, I looked down in the double stroller at my beautiful children and then directly back at the older gentleman. I could tell by the innocent look in his eyes that he didn’t know what he was asking or implying. I could only muster up five words: “Yes, these are my children.” As I walked away, my stomach churned, and I regretted not taking a few minutes to explain why his choice of words was hurtful. But I had a long list of groceries that day, with 6-week-old twins up every two hours, and exhaustion prevented my lips from expressing what my heart wanted to say.
I’m not so naive as to be surprised by questions like these. However, that doesn’t take away the sting. Perhaps, as a transracial family, it’s just something we’ll have to get used to. But I hope not. I know that my children’s beautiful brown skin looks different than ours, and I love every inch of it. But I also know these differences evoke questions and comments. I don’t want anger or bitterness to linger in my heart after these inquiries. In response to their ignorance, I desire to extend truth and grace. After all, Christ calls us to do so. I don’t believe these people intend to be rude or malicious. However, regardless of the intent, these questions are unsettling because they reveal something deeper. Whether they realize it or not, by their choice of words they’re indicating that they don’t think Ruby and Roman are our “own” children. Even as I type that sentence it feels troubling.
Ruby and Roman are our children. They’re not any “less” our children because they didn’t grow in my tummy for 9 months. They’re not any “less” our children because they don’t have our DNA. From the moment their amazing birth mama told us she wanted us to be their parents, God birthed love for them in our hearts. Roman and Ruby are our son and daughter, and we couldn’t be more proud to be their mom and dad.
I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on my son and daughter. It was on Father’s Day, and they were less than a day old. When the nurse brought in our little man I felt like I had to pull my heart off the floor. He melted me, right then and there with just one glance. As I was holding Roman the nurse wheeled in our little lady. She was so tiny, but even so, she had the cutest chunky cheeks. We held them and just stared in amazement at our two beautiful children. As Roman’s little hand gripped my pinky, I tried to slow down time and soak in those fleeting moments. A few minutes later, I asked Obbie if I could hold Ruby, but he wouldn’t let her go. “Just a little bit longer,” he insisted. There is nothing quite like watching the unconditional love that a father has for his child.
Watching Obbie’s fierce and unconditional love for our children continually reminds me of the love of our Heavenly Father. And it should. Earthly adoption is a beautiful depiction of the Gospel and the heart of God. In Christ, we have been spiritually adopted and welcomed into the family of God. John Piper puts it well, “When Christ died for us, the price was paid, and when we trust him, we are legally and permanently in the family. “ When the twins adoption was finalized, the judge ended the ceremony by stating, “the children shall hereafter be the legal children and legal heirs of the adoptive parents and entitled to all right and privileges…they are your son and daughter as if they were born to you.”
DNA doesn’t make a family-love does. I know just what song to sing to help them get to sleep at night, and I understand that their “I’m hungry” cry is distinct from their “I want my paci” cry. I know they would eat mac n’ cheese everyday for lunch and dinner if I let them. I know just the right song to get them grooving to the beat. I know Ruby loves to read books by herself and Roman prefers sitting in my lap and being read to, as long as I let him turn the pages. I know how to make them giggle just with one silly look. We know them better than anyone on this earth because they are our children.
When we stand before the judgment seat of God, it won’t be our DNA that gets us in to heaven, but the blood of another. The question isn’t one of heredity, but of authority. Does He know us? Are we His child? And if we have been adopted in Christ into His family, we are then legal heirs to inherit all the promises laid out for us in Scripture. Language speaks volumes, even when we’re unaware of our words. The simple question “Are you going to have any of your own children” directed towards an adoptive family betrays a lack of belief and hope in the validity, reality, and finality of our own relationship with Christ and our understanding of the Gospel.