At 11:36 A.M. Pacific Standard Time on Friday, November 16 at the Children’s Court in Monterrey Park, California, Judge John L. Henning declared that Judah David Mukisa Gundersen is the legal son of David and Cynthia Gundersen, with all the rights and privileges of a natural born child, including inheritance. We swore under oath that we would treat him as such, and both we and the judge signed the court order to that effect.
Present were Cheryl Pari with her children Allison, Daniel, Jelatu, Armie, and Jay; Cindi’s parents Doug and Susan Heck; and family friends and co-workers Joe Keller and Jeff Lewis. The judge was very kind and personal, and the proceedings lasted about ten minutes.
Though I picked up the nickname “Gunner” around age 16, “David” is my first name, and we chose it early on for Judah’s middle name because (1) it gives him a name to share with his dad, (2) it goes well with “Judah,” and (3) it has biblical significance (especially in connection with “Judah”). “Mukisa” was a name recommended to us by Josh Masiko, an international student and personal friend from Uganda who attends our college and our church. We wanted Judah to have an African middle name that had (1) significant meaning, (2) a good sound, and (3) a connection with Uganda. “Mukisa” is a name common in Judah’s tribe and it means something like “Grace has been given to me” (“kisa” means grace and “mu” is some sort of personal pronoun).
Judah was his normal self, obviously unaware of the significance of the event. He wore his little suit but didn’t know why, raised his hand with us as we went under oath even though he didn’t have to, and jabbered quietly during parts of the appearance. Yet today he became our son, and it doesn’t matter how much he realizes now. He is now a son with parents who have made a lifelong promise to love him, provide for him, protect him, and train him.
I’ve always found it natural to analogize between what I see around me and the spiritual realities described in Scripture, but it’s especially easy with adoption because the picture of our spiritual sonship is painted so clearly in the Bible. It has been called the crown jewel of redemption, because even justification and reconciliation do not have to include adoption. God could have rescued us from sin and death without becoming our Father. It is possible to have reconciliation without sonship, to have justification without adoption. It happens all the time. But those of us who are in Christ are more than former debtors or forgiven criminals. We are God’s children. And if today is precious to the Gundersens because it marks the formal beginning of a family relationship, the day of our adoption as children in the family of God should be all the more precious to those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is no small thing to be a child, and no small thing to have a Father.
Gunner Signs the Adoption Document
Cindi Signs the Adoption Document
A Rare Sight: Jeff Lewis, Friend and Photographer, in a SUIT
The Gundersens with Judge Henning
Gunner and Cindi Under Oath
The Whole Crew with Judge Henning
The Gundersens Outside the Children’s Court
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because your are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. – The Apostle Paul, Galatians 4:4-7