Thursday, December 10, 2009
After tossing my coat and purse on the conveyor belt, I herded the children through the security gate. Little Avery cast an anxious glance toward Mama, not sure why the entrance to this building was so strange. But then she saw a familiar face. And then another. Warm smiles and hugs welcomed her. Finally, she shyly glanced toward Sarah and Paige. They grinned back, twisting and turning on the heels of their matching cowboy boots. Their pink shirts announced the reason for our gathering: "Adoption Rocks." You see, this was a very special day for Sarah and Paige. This was Paige's adoption day.
When all of the families had arrived at the courthouse, we seated ourselves in eager clusters throughout the waiting room. I scanned the faces and felt an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude. It was like a family reunion. A dozen children were buzzing with excitement as they became reacquainted with each other. Many of the families there had been dear friends through a small group ministry at church. These friends had lifted the Thielbar family in prayer for a number of years as they faithfully relied on God to bring children, one by one, into their home through adoption. Our small group had watched Sarah grow, and now we had the amazing privilege of watching her new sister, Paige, officially join the family.
After a short wait, the judge invited the family into the courtroom. Zeb and Amber scooped up their girls and emerged through the double doors, beckoning their family and friends to follow. We timidly entered the room, assuming that it would be most appropriate to quietly sequester ourselves in the back. The judge, however, had different plans. "No, no!" he ordered. "Everyone come forward." We slowly inched toward the stand. "Keep coming!" he commanded with a grin. "This is an important day. We want everyone to be a part of it." We weren't about to disobey a judge. So there we all were, clustered around the family, as if each one of us was about to be sworn in.
Now a courtroom is generally considered to be somewhat solemn. But today was different. With two preschoolers seated atop the stand bantering merrily with the judge, there was little room for solemnity. But there was plenty of room for awe. As he carefully questioned the parents and became acquainted with the girls, we onlookers marveled at the beautiful picture before us. Parents promising to care for a child, to raise a child, to nurture a child. A child looking into the eyes of the judge and pointing with confidence, "This is my daddy. This is my mommy."
My eyes brimmed as I held Avery on my hip and watched the other parents, my friends, gently bouncing their babes and toddlers, entranced by the holy drama before us. Did our children see it? Did they catch a glimpse of the divine here in this room? Did they see that this is how it's supposed to be? That this is true fellowship? This creating of a family, surrounded by families that love and pray? And did the children see how important the life of a child is? Important enough to stand before a judge and declare, "This child is mine, and I will guard her with my life?"
The parallels unfolding before me were so vivid, I couldn't help but feel a flood of gratitude for the One who has chosen me and sealed my life with His own. And not only that, but has surrounded me -- surrounded Zeb and Amber, Sarah and Paige -- with a community of friends and family who have likewise been chosen by God and sealed by His life. Sealed by a Father who has given everything to care for us and nurture us that we might point to Him with confidence and say, "Yes, this is my Daddy."
I brushed tears from my eyes as the judge invited Paige to join him for one last proceeding. Would she care to hold the gavel? Why yes, she would. So the family of four ascended the steps and approached the bench. Paige climbed into the judge's lap. The room was completely still as the gavel was placed in her little hand. Down it came with a crash. It was official. Paige had a family.