Adding Dependents

Near the end of a full day of work, I was shuffling some tasks around on my to-do list and remembered that I still needed to fill out the double-sided sheet from HR allowing us to add dependents to our health insurance plan. I clicked out a black PaperMate gel pen and started filling out the front side with my personal information, checking a few boxes along the way. I skipped over the Office Use Only section at the bottom, flipped it over, and started on the back side.

And there at the top, right below the line asking for my name, was the word that stopped me: Dependents.

I paused and thought about it for a long moment. Dependents. My new dependents… And everything in me said, “Yes.”

It’s funny, isn’t it, the things that’ll stop you in your tracks and throw open the windows to a breath of fresh air and a new perspective? It’s really just a policy word, a word for health insurance paperwork and tax filings. Just raw details they want: name, gender, DOB, SSN. “Add dependents.”

But isn’t it so much more?

I needed some basic information on the kids, so I navigated over to the adoption file folder on my laptop and clicked open the official letters with their full names and birthdates and other details. I noticed once again that the estimated date of birth and the date of arrival at the orphanage were separated by several months for each child, which could mean a lot of things, and probably does. I started filling in the blanks on the HR form, using up a few of the extra child sections that probably only see the ink of adoptive families or couples who overdid their fertility drugs. But as I wrote, I was still awed by the very process: “Add dependents.”

It’s a beautiful word, really. God has designed human society in such a way that there are independents and there are dependents. The dependents rely on the independents, and in so many ways.

But then I had to fill in the birthdates, and it caught me again. I sat quietly in my office and started envisioning the day when I’ll explain to my children that their birthdays are estimates, that we don’t really know exactly when you were born, that we wish we knew but we don’t know when… or who… or why… Yes, on that day I will have some biblical answers and some fatherly answers and some premeditated answers, but I won’t have all the answers.

And then I got to the logistical problem we already knew about: no SSN yet. No “social security.” Well, isn’t that the truth. They’re dependents, but with no one to depend on. Again I was simultaneously saddened and elated. Saddened by the reality, and by the reality that our children’s reality is only a microcosm of the global crisis — three orphans among untold millions. But elated by my upcoming Father’s Day when, if the Lord wills, we will touch down in Rwanda and drive through the streets of Kigali to meet my little boy and my two little girls on the most providential day of the year.

But then there was the form again, asking for genders. One male, two… female. I really could have a ton of boys and be really happy — running, wrestling, playing, sporting, teaching them to lead, love, provide, and protect. But Cindi has often reminded me of where a high percentage of grown orphan girls end up, and it’s usually not in Song of Solomon romances and Focus on the Family marriages. So give us girls, Lord, and let me fight for them.

Soon I finished the form, except for the Social Security Numbers, and except for the future name changes. But as I set it aside on the left corner of my desk, I kept thinking about those words: Add dependents. And I kept loving every bit of the idea.

Not because we’re steady and stalwart and ready to take on the world and the world’s need. With each passing day, the opposite feels more and more true. Rather, I love the idea because adding dependents reflects just how the gifts of grace — name and birth and security and sonship — were given to us first.

And now I get a chance to imitate Him? I’ll sign on that line.

No name? No parents? No social security? No date of birth?

You can have my name. You can be my child. You can have my security. You can be born again.

After all, adoption really isn’t about family growth and rainbow siblings and Christmas portraits. It’s about living the gospel and learning the gospel, expressing the fatherhood of God and embracing the fatherhood of God, bringing children in and becoming children again. It’s about adding dependents, and adding dependence.


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