Friday before school I watched our family grow to 6 grandchildren. No nurse, midwife, or doctor-assisted, but a judge directed the proceedings. We’ve loved this little boy for a while, along with our daughter and son-in-law who have adopted him, and now he is legally theirs, and by extension, ours.
My daughter, her husband, their 2 birth children, and their soon-to-be middle son were in the courtroom, along with a small, supportive community of family and friends. And because COVID has made live streaming options standard, we (along with several more family members) were able to join virtually.
The judge was so joyful and kind. She engaged with the 3-year-old across the bench from her, between his mom and dad and 2 brothers. She asked him what he liked doing with his family. He replied, “Playing in the backyard and having fun.” So as part of the adoption ceremony, she made him a little charge: “Do you promise always to play in the backyard and have fun with your brothers?”
Later that day at school, I showed my 6th and 7th graders the family picture (see above) I’d used as an example of an image at the beginning of the term when I introduced both the family I’d visited during the summer vacation and the importance of people being created in the image of God. (It may have involved tearing out my husband’s head—see this blog post.)Then I pointed to one of the little boys and said, “You may remember that I told you my daughter and her husband were working to adopt this child. Well, it just became official.”
The kids cheered, clapped, and offered congratulations.
I showed them a screenshot I’d taken of the courtroom proceedings. I let them know that I was sharing this with them because they are my class, we are a community, this is a big deal in my life, and in communities, we share life’s big deals.
I also told them I was sharing it because it was connected to the novel study we were doing—A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. No, it’s got nothing to do with South Sudan or the global issues of water scarcity, girls’ education, ethnic conflict, or refugees. But not all human needs are far away; many also exist in our own community. The point is to keep our eyes and hearts open to the needs of our fellow image bearers, our neighbors who God loves and requires us to love, whether they are far away or nearby. My daughter and her husband saw this little boy who needed the care and love of a family, and they said, “God loves you, and we do, too. We will be your family.”
Finally, I told my students that it was my deep hope that everything they learn at school would help them to be the kind of people who would step up to make a difference, too. Who would live in the world with their eyes wide open to all the blessings they have received, to all those neighbors near and far who don’t have the same blessings, and who would actively work to be part of the solution, part of the healing, part of God’s bringing justice and peace to the world. None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something.
May we all be that kind of people. Shalom.
This post originally appeared on "Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn" on September 30, 2022.