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Monday, November 26, 2012

Adoption: Human and Divine

To wrap up November, which is in National Adoption Month, we revisit Sherie Mungo's compelling testimony, a two-part series exploring her experiences with adoption (originally published 11/11/11). 

When speaking to the Ephesian church about the blessings of being redeemed, Paul wrote that God the father “predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will.” I think that this verse paints a powerful image for the body of Christ: God plans to adopt us back from the grip of the Kingdom of darkness because it gives Him good pleasure.

I feel doubly blessed by this favor since I have been adopted by both humans and the Divine. While I do not presume to say that these two are one and the same, I do think human adoption serves as a powerful metaphor for what God does for His children.

I experienced just how powerful adoption is on November 1st, 1990, when my parents Stephanie and Derek Mungo graciously took me in as their own child. I was three years old, a product of biological parents addicted to crack cocaine with criminal records. My age alone could have been a deterrent for my parents, but coupled with my lingering issues from being a crack baby made me a walking adoption nightmare. They were told that I would need to have special education services and that physical activities would always be a problem for me. 

Despite these inhibiting factors, my parents had an unfaltering faith that I was their child, and even more importantly I was God’s child. This faith gave them the courage to defy the words of man spoken over my life and provide me with hope for my future. Needless to say, twenty two years later I am a graduate level student who has enjoyed a good amount of physical activity (maybe not lately, but I digress). The point is, my parents’ faith helped me to transcend the negative circumstances that I was born into.

So, how does my story speak to race in addition to adoption? When I first started thinking about posting, I struggled to make this connection. I mean, I am a Black woman who was adopted by Black parents; what’s so special about that? Then I remembered two events in my life: 1) my first experience with racism and 2) being asked whether or not my parents were Black.

I do not plan to go into the racist event in detail. Suffice it to say that it was a painful coming of age experience that many POC’s have to go through. I do however want to focus on my parents’ apt reaction to my pain and confusion. As they had experienced similar injustices, my Black parents understood my feelings exactly. They knew the hurt and bitterness that could result from that moment you realize your skin color is cause for mistreatment. My parents responded to my angst with a balance of incisive Black consciousness and Christian grace.

They explained that while racism would unfortunately be an external part of my life, I shouldn’t let that color my view of self worth and value. They also explained while I shouldn’t go looking for racism, I needed to be prepared for its manifestations. Perhaps more importantly, bitterness and non forgiveness were strongly discouraged by my parents. Despite the injustice of prejudice, I had to forgive the perpetrator for their sin of racism just as Christ had forgiven me.

Would my parents have been able to handle this situation with such adroitness if they were not Black? 
In my next post, I’ll explore this question into greater depth.

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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