It’s official.

Today, we took the last step in the adoption process here, going to the consulate to finalize the paperwork for Mara Ruth to travel home with us. Lord willing, when we set foot on American soil this Friday, she will officially become a citizen of the United States. The only thing left for us to do now is wait for our paperwork to be finalized (which takes about 24 hours), and then we will be ready to head home.

Mara Ruth’s transfer of citizenship is only one of many transformations she has experienced over these last couple of weeks. It is a bit hard to believe that we met our daughter a mere nine days ago. As we reflect back over all the “official steps” in this process, we are in awe of all the changes we’ve seen.

Our little girl has gone from feeling terribly sick…

…to feeling really well (smiling constantly…and even scheming with a little attitude at times, too!).

She’s gone from being scared around daddy…

…to having a lot of fun with daddy.

She’s gone from being timid around the boys…


…to wrestling with the boys.

It’s been just over a week, and we still have a long way to go, but we are thankful for these transitions that have taken place. And by the way, Mara Ruth is not the only one who has been transformed in this process. Her oldest brother has been trained as a Cross Fit Instructor…

And her other brother has been trained as a Kung Fu Master.

In all seriousness, adoption truly is a powerful picture of transformation. Consider the reality of what happens when God the Father adopts us through Christ His Son. In this adoption process, He changes our status. We go from being slaves to sin to being sons of God. Listen to the words of Galatians 4:
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

We who were children of wrath become children of God! All of this, Galatians 4 says, because Jesus came at the right time, with perfect qualifications, and with sacrificial resolve to give His very life for our adoption.

But it’s not just our legal status that has changed. When God transforms our status, He also changes our family. He calls us a new name (John 1:12-13), He gives us a new spirit (Romans 8:16), and He grants us complete access into His presence (Hebrews 4:14-16). Whereas we used to be afraid of God our Judge, we are now friends of God our Father!

And the transition continues. God changes our status, He changes our family, and He changes our future. Listen to Romans 8:16-17…
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

As His children, God promises us a full inheritance in His family. We are fellow heirs with Christ Himself, and His is an inheritance that will never spoil or fade. When God adopts, He doesn’t adopt temporarily; He adopts eternally. His adoption of us is literally forever. Amidst the many challenges we face in this world, we “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).

As we prepare for one more full day in China tomorrow, I praise God for all He has done to change Mara Ruth’s status, family, and future. She is no longer an orphan; she is a daughter, and she now belongs in a family. At the same time, I praise God for all He has done to change my status, my family, and my future. I am no longer an orphan, enslaved to sin and destined for destruction. I am a son who has been adopted by an eternal Father into an eternal family with an eternal home waiting for all who have trusted in His Son for their salvation. Indeed, adoption is a glorious transformation.