One of the struggles in adoption is connecting to your new children. As I have written before, the adoption process is easy compared to the living-together process. How do we connect? How do we build a healthy relationship?
Honestly, many times our adopted children have felt like "neighborhood kids" who don't go home. The reason is that we don't have the history of experiences to have a strong relationship. Interestingly, I found insight recently where I least expected it...
I have been preparing for a men's Bible study using the book Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole by Eric Mason. The first lesson is on the creation of Adam. How did God and Adam connect? They had something in common. Adam was made after the image of God. From this beginning, a relationship formed and this relationship was the basis from which Adam would reflect God as an image-bearer and would carry out the responsibilities God gave him. Mason points out that relationship drove Adam's reflection of God and his responsibility to God.
This helped me realize that our family needed a reminder of what we have in common. So, we made lists. Each of us wrote down things on the list we had in common with each other. The kids wrote down what they had in common with mom and dad and mom and dad wrote down what we had in common with them. The lists included favorite foods, hair color, eye color, favorite things to do, movies, etc. I let them think on this for a week then let them add common experiences. Vacations, special one-on-one times, camps, etc.
About a week later, I asked them how they made friends. Typically, they found out how many of the same things they and the other person liked. They found their friendships typically began with those whom they had something in common. Likewise, our kids have things in common with us. This helps form our relationship.
Just as Adam had a relationship with God and this relationship determined who he was (image-bearer) and what he did (subdue and care for the rest of creation), our relationship with God and as a family does the same. All that we do and all that we are should stem first from our relationship with Christ and then our relationship with our family. As our son, Michael pointed out, Adam couldn't be just like God, but being an image-bearer doesn't mean being an exact duplicate. A statue of me is not the same thing as me, though it bears my image. Likewise, our kids are not exact copies of us, but they certainly bear our image, even our adopted children. They certainly bear the image of God.
Our adopted children are now believers. They are also now Smoak's. These relationships help define who we are and what we do and who we are to one another. It helps us connect on a deeper level, not just as "legal residents" but as our sons and daughters. It helps us all remember that if we are in Christ, we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father too.