In this video, Erik and Donna Thoennes share what motivated them to adopt and how adoption has changed them, their children, their church, and their gospel witness.
The following is a lightly edited transcript; please check the video before quoting.
Erik Thoennes: J. I. Packer in Knowing God says that, “It is a great thing to be forgiven by God and an even greater thing still to be justified by him. But an even greater thing yet still to be adopted by him.” When our forgiveness moves to justification and then to adoption, it reaches its highest level of intimacy, and acceptance, and relationship, and it is a glorious thing.
And as adopted children of God, we have the privilege as we adopt to take that role of God the Father adopting us as his children, moving into a situation that that child can do nothing about to solve, but we solve it and take them into our home.
And then have the privilege not only of adopting them as our children, but leading them, pointing them to Jesus so that they’re ultimately, in our prayer and hopes, adopted by their Heavenly Father as well. It’s a joy to enter into this gospel reality of adoption through actually being able to do it for kids who desperately need families.
Donna Thoennes: And secondarily, there are over 150 million orphans in the world who need a safe and loving home, and parents to draw them to the Lord and tell them about the good news of Jesus Christ. So that’s a compelling reason as well.
Erik Thoennes: Adoption also is a wonderful opportunity for us to demonstrate to the world what we understand God has done for us in the gospel. We have four adopted children, three from Taiwan, one from China. And they are delightful kids who have been through a lot of hard things, but God has amazingly worked in their lives. So we’ve had an opportunity to see that. Our church has adopted our kids with them and there’s been this adoption culture created in our church where we are called to care for widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. And it’s obedience really, which is why we carry this out the way we do. We obey God, who has a heart of a father who adopts orphans and we get to act like he does in the lives of other people.
People ask us all the time, “What led you to do this? Why did you do this?” And it’s so easy to say, “Well, God adopted us as his children when we were orphans and we wanted to do the same. And he commands us to do that.” And so, when the church wants to take stands on all sorts of issues in our society, it can bring a credibility and an integrity into our ministries when we are actually following God’s commands and making a difference in a culture and in the lives of kids who desperately need families.
Donna Thoennes: I think we would say it’s. like, the most thrilling thing we’ve done in our 30 years of marriage is bringing these four children into our lives and watching the miracle of them being transformed by healthy family life and God’s grace. So yeah, it’s been amazing, an amazing journey.
Erik Thoennes: It’s an opportunity to practice and rehearse gospel realities in the lives of those kids in our family and in our lives as well. We also get to see other families in our church get a hold of this and make a tremendous difference. We put on display God’s transforming work. When there was no hope and now to see him at work is a beautiful thing.