-Chelsey Bennett, Contributing Writer
Jan. 25, 2010 was a beautiful day. It was the day that my sister was adopted from China. Adoption is a Biblical concept of reconciliation and redemption—of grace and eternal worth—of joy and belongingness. I am blessed to witness these truths in a significant way through watching my youngest sister, Caelyn YangYi, learn what it means to have a family. Through every step of the way, Caelyn has taught me so much about my own spiritual adoption: how God sees me as His child and what it means to become part of His family.
Let me tell you about the first time I saw her. She was just shy of 7-years-old, and I will never forget the perplexed look on her young face. Her precious eyes displayed so many emotions in one glance: excitement, fear, confusion, happiness, sadness. My parents got down on their knees and called her over. She approached us slowly, clutching something tightly in her tiny hands. Then, as if something had clicked, she pointed at us with knowing eyes. Rambling in Chinese, her face began to glow. “Mama! Baba!” she came forward with confidence and hugged us all one by one. She pulled us close and revealed the treasures that she grasped so tightly in her hands: two mangled sticks of gum and a couple of lollipops. She joyfully distributed these gifts to her new family, beaming with pride as we gawked over the scene. It was all so clear in that moment: we were family. She was meant to be with us, and finally we were together. I beamed from the inside out, filled with joy, as I witnessed the pinnacle fulfillment of my family’s hope. I held her small gift with such dignity.
Her small gesture spoke such high volumes of truth to my soul. When I was called to be a part of God’s family, I came timidly. I was fearful, joyful, nervous, and confused. Adoption means giving up our past life. Sometimes this means some sadness, as it did for my sister. Sometimes it is scary, as it is for many of us. But when we can truly grasp the reality of our new relationship with Christ, we cling to it. We draw near with confidence. We call out, “Abba! Father!” We give him everything we have. Which to us, seems like our whole world, when really it may just be a sticky piece of candy with a bunch of fuzz stuck on it. But to Him, it is precious and valued because he sees our hearts. He sees our intention. And if our intention is to please Him, then He is glorified.
After we got home from China everything was so much better than we had ever imagined. Caelyn could not seem more content. She loved our family and we loved her. It was a perfect match and nothing could ever change the way we felt about her. However, for the first several months, she needed to be regularly reminded of the fact that she was loved. She made a routine of the following: play for ten minutes, climb into dad’s lap, look into his eyes and ask, “Are you my daddy?” He’d say proudly, “Yes. Yes, I’m YOUR daddy!” She’d ask, “Does Daddy love Caelyn?” “Yes, Daddy LOVES Caelyn!” “Mommy love Caelyn?” “Yes! Yes!” She would go through my whole family, asking—just to make sure—if they all loved her. She would look deeply into her daddy’s eyes until she believed him, and then scurry off his lap to go play again. But ten minutes later, she’d be back in his lap asking, “Are you my Daddy? Does Daddy love Caelyn?”
My dad considered those moments precious, even though every now and then she’d hop in his lap and he’d say, “I’m your Daddy, and all God’s children love Caelyn!” He talks about what a reminder it was for him that God LOVES His children. And He loves to remind us that we are loved by Him. My dad was not frustrated with her. He was not angry with her for returning to his lap after only ten minutes. Even after the hundredth time, he never told her, “Ok, Caelyn! Enough is enough! Are you ever going to understand?” He was patient, enduring, steadfast, and expectant. And his love pales in comparison to the unfathomable depth of God’s love to us. Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we will ever understand. He delights in the moments that we crawl into his lap to look up into his eyes in search of love.
Caelyn has taught me a lot about what it means to fear God, to be thankful for what He has given us and to live a life of grace. She is a living example of what my childlike faith should look like. I pray that I can somehow learn to let go of my fears and stipulations and cling to the simple truth that Jesus died for me and therefore, I belong in the family of Christ. I am chosen, beloved, forgiven, reborn, remade. I belong. I am His. I am adopted.