Let me start by saying that I believe most people mean well, but good intentions are just that, good intentions and nothing more. It always amazes me what complete strangers feel the liberty to say to people they don’t know. Some of the things I’ve heard as an adoptive dad have made me smile, grit my teeth, want to yell, and everything in-between over the years.
There are days when I wonder if a list of things you’re supposed to say to adoptive parents is available online. There has to be because I get the same comments and questions from complete strangers no matter where I go. I usually chalk most of it up to ignorance or perhaps they just mean well, but there is one comment that really gets to me. When people tell me that my kids need to be grateful because we “rescued” them, I have to try hard not to lose it.
I once heard someone tell a group of adopted kids that they needed to be grateful because their parents “rescued” them. Yes, I understand the spiritual connection between adoption and salvation. I was adopted into the Lord’s family and I am grateful that He saved me. But to apply the same thinking to our kids is a mistake for many reasons. Sadly, this idea that they need to show their gratitude to us appears to be gaining traction and it needs to stop.
Gratitude is the correct response to the Lord because of all He has done for us. I just can’t justify the same response by our kids as scriptural.
We are all familiar with the parable of The Good Samaritan. It is one of the most famous passages in all of scripture, it’s so famous in fact we have Good Samaritan laws in our country. The law protects those who render aid to someone in need because that person acting as a “Good Samaritan.”
An expert in the law once asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered the man with a question and asked him how he interpreted what is written in the law. The man replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The man then asked a clarifying question of the Lord, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus, instead of answering the man’s question responded with a story.
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ – Luke 10:30-35 (NIV)
You’ll notice that at no point in the story does the injured man thank the man who took care of him. He doesn’t offer to repay the man and he never expresses his gratitude. I assume that Jesus didn’t mention it because it is not relevant. Gratitude, it appears, has nothing to do with us loving our neighbor. Our expecation of receiving gratitude is not what should move us to action. Jesus tells us to show mercy the way the Good Samaritan showed mercy. That’s it. He never tells us to expect anything in return.
We need to embrace our own salvation and live a life of gratitude because of what the Lord did for us. We didn’t save our kids and we should not expect their gratitude because it is an unreasonable expectation to place upon them. Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light. Ours should be the same.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.