What a great story I recently read! A CNN/KSAT.com article reports that a 32 year old man was adopted by his former foster mother. Maurice Griffin of San Jose has been in search of his foster family, the Godbolds, since the State took him away from them nineteen years ago. The reason they took him away from his foster family was that Griffin, believe it or not, wanted to be spanked like his foster parents’ natural children were spanked. Griffin wanted to be treated the same way as the other children were being treated. The problem is that the State does not allow foster parents to spank their foster children.
When Griffin expressed his desires to his social workers, they took Griffin away from the Godbolds a few days before they were to adopt Maurice. Maurice told his social workers: “I wanted to be treated like a real son, . . .Their sons got spanked and I didn’t.”1 Moreover, the State also threatened to take the Godbold’s natural children away from them because of what Maurice revealed to his social workers. Until that time, Griffin lived with the Godbolds for four years until the age of thirteen.
After Griffin was taken from the Godbolds, he went from foster family to foster family, but he never found the love, stability, and support that he had in the Godbolds’ household. He described his relationships with other foster families “as never getting close to anyone again” and that “he hurt a lot of people”2. In addition, Griffin described his time away from the Godbolds: “I couldn’t talk to anybody about it because nobody was there. I couldn’t call somebody; there was just a void in me.”3
When Griffin was released from foster care, he started a search for the Godbold family. Finally, Griffin found his foster mother, Lisa Godbold, through social media six years ago. Lisa Godbold had also been searching for Maurice as well. Lisa’s husband, Charles, passed away in 1998, and she has since remarried. Lisa adopted Maurice in front of a judge in San Diego on Friday. Here is the CNN report on Maurice Griffin.
After reading and watching this story, it reminded me of God’s loving relationship toward His elect in that He adopted us into His family. We were once lost, had no direction, and sometimes without a family. However, God in his grace and mercy adopted us into His family because of no merit of our own (Eph. 2: 8-10, Gal. 2:16). This is best described in the first chapter of Ephesians where the Apostle Paul stated:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Eph. 1: 3-14)
John MacArthur related a story about adult adoption during ancient Roman times. It was common practice for a wealthy family to adopt an adult male when there was no family heir. Here John MacArthur describes the four main consequences of a Roman adoption:
“Now there were four main consequences in a Roman adoption. The adopted person lost all rights in his own family and gained all rights in his new family. He gained all the rights of a fully legitimate son in his new family. Secondly he became full heir to his new father’s estate even if other sons, if there were no sons, if other sons were afterward born into the family who were real blood relations it did not affect his right of progenerate, his right to be the primary one. He was an inalienably identified heir. Thirdly, according to Roman law, the old life of the adopted person, this is interesting, was completely wiped out. If he had any debts they were cancelled, if he had any record of crime it was abolished. They wiped out all the records as if that person had never existed, as if they had never been born. And the adopted person was regarded as a new person entering a new life with no past. And fourthly in the eyes of the Roman law the adopted person was literally and absolutely the son of his new father in every sense.”4
Many Christians were adopted as adults into God’s family as well. I know I was. I was around the same age that Maurice was when God saved me and adopted me into His family. Both the Ephesians passage and the account of adult adoption which John MacArthur describes give us a beautiful picture of how God has adopted us into His family. According to the Ephesians passage, this is what we have gained through Christ: 1) blessed with every spiritual blessing (v.1), 2) holy and blameless before Him (v. 4), 3) adopted as sons thorough Jesus Christ (v. 5), 4) redeemed through His blood and forgiven of our sins (v. 7), 5) He (God) made known the mystery of His will (v. 9), 6) obtained an inheritance (v. 11), and 7) sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (v. 13)
Maurice Griffin was adopted into the family he has always longed for, but as Christians we have been adopted into an even better family. A family who’s head is a loving, gracious, and merciful Father, who has given us a rich inheritance which no earthly family can possibly give us.
(Tony Zabala is currently the Evangelism Coordinator for the Santa Monica Church)
1. Paul Vercammen and Lateef Mungin CNN, “32-year-old man to be adopted”, KSAT.com
4. John MacArthur, “Marks of a Child Adopted by God”, Grace To You.