On Parenthood this year, Joel and Julia have been the foster parents of a young boy named Victor. Like many people wanting to adopt, the assumed they would be getting a baby, but as they waited for the right child to come along, they opened up the parameters to include a child of any age. What comes to their door one night with the social worker is unexpected, a troubled 10 year old boy. The struggle this season has been to integrate him into the family (make him feel part of the family), especially since Victor is old enough to realize that he is not the natural-born son of Julia and Joel.
Victor has struggled with the issues of identity; he has felt the insecurity that comes from the lack of intimacy blood relations can bring, almost without question (This is not to imply that this is always the case. Many people struggle in their natural-born families with issues of love and acceptance). Victor has felt that weight of trying to earn the love of his foster parents, always worried that he will be given back to the system if he does not live up to their expectations. Much of the season he has just not performed, he has rebelled and dared the Grahams to love him in spite of his misbehavior.
What has been so powerful to see, has been the journey of Joel and Julia as well as the Baverman family as a whole. They have opened up their hearts to Victor, even when he has not deserved it, even when he has been as obstinate and difficult as possible, they have chosen grace and mercy over condemnation. Joel and Julia, at the end of the season choose to adopt Victor and make him legally part of the family. There is a beautiful scene, a few days before his adoption papers have been signed where Victor is running through the house with a football. He has been told not to, yet he does and breaks an expensive vase. Julia, understandably upset, reprimands Victor. He asks her if he will still be adopted and what comes next is pure grace. She tells him, “I’m never going to change my mind… I want you to stick around”. Acceptance and love in spite of wrong-doing, grace and mercy instead of punishment, adoption instead of banishment; all of these are what God offers to us. The Apostle Paul says in Galatians,
“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.”
The last scene of the season, the whole extended Braverman clan has gathered in the judge’s office to see Victor adopted. What follows was a perfect picture of what happens when we become part of the family of God. Victor is surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses”. Each of them promises to love and support their new family member. This is what happens when someone joins the family of God. No longer is life a “Lone Ranger” undertaking, it is lived as brothers and sisters, children of promise, called to freedom and life in the body of Christ. In this family we love one another, laying down our lives for each other because we have been bonded through the blood of Jesus. Victor is told by the judge that he has all the rights of any natural child; this our identity in Christ. We have all the rights as heirs of God through Christ.
For those who struggle with the ideas of identity and acceptance, there is no greater thing than knowing that no matter what happens, you are loved. God offers this adoption, this acceptance into his family to you. You don’t have to go through this world alone. Family, true family awaits, just run to Jesus.