This will be a big weekend for our little boy: on Friday we will appear before a judge to complete the readoption process, and on Sunday at church Z will be baptized! I didn't intentionally schedule these two events to coincide with each other, but I am so glad it worked out this way because seeing them side by side on the calendar allowed me recognize the connection between them and the significance they share.
The readoption represents an official recognition of something that has been a reality for us since November 15, 2010: Z is our son. Though we have called him Z since shortly after he came home, it will now be part of his legal name.* It is gratifying to know that what has been true in our hearts for almost a year will now be legitimized by the government of our country.
If the readoption represents a legal recognition of Z's place in our family, his baptism will be, in part, a spiritual parallel of this action. As Presbyterians we do not view baptism as a saving act, but rather an outward expression of an inward reality and a visible sign of God's covenant with his people. In his baptism we are affirming God's truth about Z and recognizing his place, not only in our family, but in the family of God.
And so in the span of one weekend two significant entities will make pronouncements over our child. Though they are separate and distinct from each other, their messages ring with the same truth: You have a name, you have a family, you have a home, you belong. Thanks be to God.
*We are keeping his given Ethiopian name as his first name and the name we chose (which is what he is called most of the time) will be his middle name. All children adopted from Ethiopia are automatically given a legal name that consists of their given Ethiopian first name followed by their adoptive father's first name and their adoptive family surname. This is the name on all their legal documentation and remains their legal name unless you go through a readoption or legal name change process.