I heard a story on the radio a few months ago about a woman named Maris Blechner. Her first son died just after childbirth, then she adopted a daughter. Ten months later, she delivered a son, and then she adopted another daughter a few years after that. Believe it or not, people would tactlessly tell Maris things like, “I suppose you love your biological child the best. Surely the one who shares your blood is your favorite.” At the time, she wasn’t able to form a reply to their insensitive remarks.
Her three surviving children all got married and had children of their own. In fact, they each gave birth to a daughter within a few months of each other. Maris would watch her granddaughters play together, and she saw how these cousins who shared no blood relations loved each other without reservation. They were family. The rest was just details.
After opening her own adoption agency in Queens, NY, Maris eventually formed an answer to those narrow-minded questions around adoption: “There’s no such thing as ‘as much as’ when it comes to love. Love isn’t measurable,” Maris would say. “You claim your child and it’s forever. We claim our adopted children exactly the same way birth parents claim their children.”
That word—claim—stuck with me long after hearing her answer. Besides being in a similar situation with both biological children and an adopted son, I can feel an extra measure of weight in that word. To be claimed by someone you love and trust, to be received by them wholeheartedly, is the most freeing experience. For instance, to know my husband claims me isn’t restraining to my freedom because I also claim him. And I don’t have to be anything particularly special, because this claim is forever.
If we can understand this unconditional form of love in human terms, it’s a little easier to begin to understand God’s love for us. We see it in 1 John 3.
“See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children—think of it—and we really are! But since most people don’t know God, naturally they don’t understand that we are his children. Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when he comes we will be like him, as a result of seeing him as he really is.” (TLB)
With the start of a new year, choose to live like you are claimed, like you are valuable enough for someone to call you His own. Whether you have felt this level of love before or not, know that you have a heavenly Father who claims you as his child.