Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adopted As a Son of the Promise

To be naturally born into a family affords a child full rights as a family member and, by law, makes him an heir of his parent's estate.  He enjoys an intimacy with other siblings, becoming a part of the family unit and sharing with them all that comprises what we know to be a family.  The child associates with other relatives that make up the broader extended family; learning from them, relying on them for companionship, looking up to them for leadership, and assuming similar morals and values that are carried on into his adult life.  The family is essential in his growth and maturity into adulthood, for what is put in is what he will reflect when he begins his own.

However, there are times when a child is denied a complete family and the benefits he could gain from it.  Often, children become disconnected from the natural order and are thrown into confusion over who their true family is.  To not know one or both of their biological parents because of mistakes made in their parent's pasts, or to be subjected by their parents to multiple marriages, creates a mindset of confusion that can often have disastrous results.  The child who is thrown into this unstable situation finds it difficult to cope with the constant uncertainty or changes that are forced upon him and which he has no control.  He may attempt to have his pain heard by rebelling and becoming involved in destructive behavior, because no matter how reassured he is by his parents that another change will make things better, his anger festers and threatens to destroy what little security he has left.

I have personally witnessed this scenario being played out, and it involved two little boys that instantly became family members.  This came about not by the natural order, but by inclusion through our own son’s marriage that dissolved after seven or eight years and two children of his own.  When his marriage ended, my son made a determined choice to remain in the boys’ lives.  The oldest did not know who his father was.  The youngest did, but his father was selfishly absent.  My son’s decision to be the father neither of the boys had previously fully known was one I felt extremely proud over.  He did so out of a tremendous love for them and a desire to nurture them and provide for them what they lacked.  He wanted to help correctly guide them so that, one day, they would also be able to make the right choices.  

Problems were evident, even at their very young age.  Two small boys, who were tossed about on the turbulent waves of multiple marriages and unstable relationships, and made vulnerable to their mother’s whims, each were forced to make their own choices as they matured.  The youngest chose the path of rebellion and, although unknowingly I am sure, wanted to punish his mother for her indiscretions.  Although I have no doubt that she loved them, she knew only what her own childhood had taught her: that it was okay to not remain in a marriage and make it work, even for the sake of the children.

The oldest boy, Stephen, was drawn onto another path, however.  He looked up to my son as the father he had always longed for, and their relationship became closer as time went on.  When he was faced with decisions that would directly affect his life, he came to my son for guidance.  He sought instruction over moral issues and desired the intimacy that is shared between a father and his son.  He assumed my son’s strong values and began to apply them to his own life.  And, much to our delight, he visited us often when my son brought our other grandchildren for a visit and gained childhood memories he will always cherish.

Perhaps the pivotal point in obtaining the full rights enjoyed by natural family members came when Stephen enlisted in the Marines and asked to list my son as his “father” on his military documents, and to name my husband and me as his “official grandparents.”  It was then that his adoption into our family became formal; not with a piece of paper stamped with the approval of the courts, but divinely sealed in our hearts by the hand of God.  The Lord had brought Stephen into our lives, had caused our hearts to love him, and gave him the family he always wanted.

Yesterday, Stephen, along with his Marine unit, was deployed to Afghanistan.  Although my son was in the Air Force for eight years and strongly adheres to the values he learned there, his heart is crushed at this time.  He knows the danger Stephen faces.  He understands Stephen’s desire to serve his country in this way because he, too, would be there if not for disabilities that prevented him from a career in the Air Force.  But because Stephen is his son, not by natural descent but by divine adoption, accorded the full rights as heir of our promise, he worries about him.  And we also worry.  We are truly blessed to call him our own.  God has deeply embedded him in our hearts, he is greatly loved as much as our natural grandchildren, and is ever on our minds and in our prayers.

We trust the Lord to keep Stephen safe.  We believe He will bring him home to us, unharmed and ready to begin a life with his new wife, Diana, and to gain even more intimacy with us, his family, and the extended family that need to know him.  We have no choice but to believe and trust the Lord to do this, for He promised when Stephen was born that he would eventually belong to us.

Please keep Stephen in your prayers.

(The picture on this post is of our granddaughter, Emmie, and her big Marine brother,  our grandson, Stephen!)


Everyday Becky said...

: ) You must be so proud, Grandma! Thank you, Stephen, for serving our country. I'm so thankful. Thanks, Chris, for raising your son to be a servant and a Marine. : )

Karen L. Brahs said...

Thank you, Beck, for acknowledging Stephen and seeing he is an important part of our family. When he returns, I hope everyone can meet him. He's such a sweet young man, full of humor and life, and I know everyone will love him as much as we do. He also knows his Lord, which I am eternally grateful!

Karie said...

When the Savior counsels us to love one anther he puts us in position to work miracles in each others lives. We will include Stephen in our prayers as we pray daily for the members of the armed forces. Thanks for another touching post Karen.