Sometimes the lengths to which people go to adopt are amazing.

Not long before Romania shut its doors to private adoptions, I met a childless, two-income couple who desperately wanted kids. Disturbing reports about the Romanian orphanages moved them deeply. Soon, armed with a thick stack of notarized legal documents, the wife took a leave of absence from her job and flew to Romania. There she stayed for three months, unable to speak the language, sometimes afraid, but motivated by love. After hiring an interpreter, she began to visit orphanages, knock on doors, and follow leads. Despite many days of frustration, she kept looking. And in just over a month she found twin girls. Her husband soon joined her in Bucharest, and together they navigated the treacherous waters of adoption laws in Romania and in the United States.

That was not the first time I have been moved by an adoption. As my law practice has increasingly emphasized adoption cases over the past decade, I have sometimes been amazed at what I’ve seen. And I have begun to see in the lives of the adoptive families I work with a picture of God’s love—for others and for me. I have concluded that recovering a biblical theology of adoption can help us know more about God and experience him in new and vital ways.

Loved by choice

It is not clear how well the apostle Paul knew Latin, but verses in Ephesians 1 suggest that he was familiar with the existing Roman law of adoptio and that he understood the root meaning of that word: to choose. He wrote, “For [God] chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure ...

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