John is an actor, writer, and entrepreneur interested in the search for truth and meaning in the world.
Shared with the permission of Mike Miller & Family
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.....Galatians 6:4–6
Our infant daughter, Rachael, died last year. She was given the name Rachael because of the toil and anguish that we endured to conceive her. Like Jacob in the Bible, my wife and I labored hard to receive life’s most precious gift, namely a child. We tried everything known to man to conceive a child: fertility drugs, artificial insemination, and in vitro fertilization. I can still remember the two loved-filled years of passion that failed to yield fruit. I can still recount the numerous doctor appointments to discover whether a genetic factor was to blame. The tests failed to discover any genetic causes. I also can recall with clarity the poking and prodding with impersonal instruments and sharp objects. And, let us not forget the king’s ransom in medical bills paid in full.
At age forty, I was left to face the prospect that I may not father any biological children to carry my family’s legacy of achievement forward. My legacy would wither away to become dust. Hope, which is always present in the Lord, was dwindling fast because it appeared that all our efforts have been in vain. The prospect of being childless left me a numb and empty tomb, a man cold to the touch and incapable of being comforted by others. A root of bitterness that blossomed instantly on that day ruled my life for several months. Daily I experienced rage and despair. I bore a wound that I believed at the time would never truly heal. A scab would form over the wound in time, but the scar would go to the grave with me. It was my greatest disappointment in this life. The appalling failure to produce an heir for an achiever was unbearable, and more importantly, unforgivable based on my honor code. I had longed to be part of a family full of love that resembled that of my youth: a family that includes a mother, father, brother, and sister. In one fell swoop, my quest that started by wisely choosing a profession capable of supporting a large family and finding the light of my life−my wife Julie– has ended as an appalling failure.
To correct the deficiency in service to my ancestors, I meditated on evil thoughts. First and foremost, I blamed God for inflicting me with a dead child and a barren wife. I thought I clearly heard in my spirit while at church that we would have a child. The conception of Rachael seemed a fulfillment of prayer and the inward witness. That’s why the subsequent death of Rachael seemed like a gross betrayal of trust by God. On that day, I thought my faith in God died with my child. Life is not fair or just, but “I must endure it to the end” became my credo. I determined from that point forward to take control of the situation since God appeared impotent. Then, I am ashamed to admit, I spent countless hours surmising how I could still father my own biological child. I began by thinking of honorable ways to conceive such as fertilizing a woman without sexual contact. I still passionately loved my wife and divorce was not an option. Nevertheless, time was a cruel mistress. The more I pondered the matter the more ungodly my thoughts became. During this whole episode, my wife could sense a change in my character. The passionate love we once enjoyed was no longer evident. I became aloof, despondent, and resentful. Adultery, even though it went against my honor code, became an increasingly viable option.
Day after day, I increasingly gave myself over, in meditation, to the temptation of fathering an illegitimate offspring. Women became a means to an end. They had no value to me but that of fertile soil for me to plant my seeds into as many willing fields as humanly possible. To succeed in my new calling, I became increasingly health conscious. I improved my physical appearance by losing thirty pounds and undergoing a hair transplant. In less than four months, I was ready to commence Operation Paternity suit. I had polluted my mind and rejected any remaining vestiges of Christian morality. I figured that since God rejected me, I would in like manner reject Him. Alas, I had become the very epitome of everything I despised in others. Then I discovered a fatal defect that explained why I struggled at times to enter into a victorious Christian walk of faith. The truth of the matter was that I never crucified the old man’s selfish nature. God was supposed to be my genie in a bottle who granted my wishes as I dictated them to Him. Nevertheless, the rhema “manifestation” of my heart’s motivation did not prevent me from seeking young women willing to allow me to impregnate them. The act of betrayal long consummated in mind was about to be accomplished bodily.
A couple of months later, in September 2003, as I was contemplating renting a love nest for intimate encounters with gullible young women, fate took a hand in my situation. My favorite uncle, Luke, a devout Christian, died. The desire to produce a child would have to wait until my return because failure to attend the funeral would be seen as an egregious sign of disrespect by my family. Therefore, I purposed in myself to arrive in plenty of time to properly grieve and celebrate his life. I immediately notified my office that I would be attending his funeral in Springfield, Ohio, a little town about forty-five miles west of Columbus. Accordingly, all thought of dalliances were put on hold until later. My overriding goal was to pay proper respect to a great man. Many people of acclaim came to speak at his funeral. Yet, the people who touched me the most were his adopted and foster children. Oh, how they loved that man! I thought about it for our entire journey back home.
Subsequently, my father—during one of our frequent conversations about the next generation—said, “It would be a shame for you not to have a kid or adopt one. Your life experiences could really help positively shape a child’s life.” Those simple words of exhortation released me from the guilt of having somehow failed my father. As a result, over the next six months, I inadvertently ended up watching Discovery Channel stories about adoption. I learned from the stories that many of my personal heroes were adopted or had adopted children. People such as Faith Hill, Mr. Wendy’s, and Ronald Reagan fit these categories. Hope began to creep back into my life. My pain slowly began to ease as I became aware that adopted children could also provide me an opportunity to leave behind a legacy of excellence. I do not claim to understand the tragic events that have befallen me, but at least I have some peace of mind.
The turning point came in 2004 on Thanksgiving Day, while I was reading the Bible. I felt led that day to read approximately ten to fifteen Scripture verses that exhorted believers to grant justice and mercy to orphans and widows. In those verses, I discovered that God promises to bless everyone who through kindness and selflessness fulfills the commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself. The final verse I read was Romans 11:17 which describes how God grafts people into His heavenly family. All Christians are of one spiritual family. If you are a Christian, you are part of an eternal family that transcends life and death. It is called the church (i.e., family) of Jesus Christ. I finally understood why the early church spread like wildfire.
The kingdom of God is about love and about family. God takes broken and hurting individuals and puts them into families. By becoming a spiritual and earthly father to an orphaned child, I am fulfilling a royal decree of heaven. On the Day of Resurrection, I too will rejoice to find their names written in the Book of Life. I may not be biologically related to them, but spiritually we are connected for all eternity. Therefore, as God has seen fit to adopt those who are not children of the promise made to Abraham, in like manner, I have decided to adopt the fatherless and give them hope for the future. They shall bear my name and receive an inheritance previously meant for others. When I leave this realm to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, they will be a living testimony as to whether there was any value in the name and legacy imparted unto them. Moreover, they will have known true love because many are born randomly into families for good or for bad, but few are chosen for inclusion into a family. They will be able to state emphatically that “my parents searched to and fro the whole earth and chose me for a legacy of love.”
Seeing that adoption is a noble thing, I encourage every believer, who is financially stable, to adopt at least one unwanted child. This act will help unwed mothers everywhere to have another viable option other than killing their unborn children. Abortion is not a form of birth control but a barbarous act of paganism, as evident by the sacrificing of innocent unborn children upon the altar of selfishness. If we as Christians believe abortion is immoral, then we must lead by example. To lead by example will require us to adopt children that have no hope and raise them as a sacred offering to the Lord. Adoption, which is what everyone experiences in the new birth, is the greatest gift a man can give to an unwanted child. By choosing to adopt, we can abolish the need for orphanages and abusive foster care in America. This year for Christmas, present a gift that does not break or lose its luster with time: adoption, a gift that gives hope for today and life everlasting for tomorrow.
PS: We had two biological children after adopting Joshua.