Tanaka Family Website - Forever Daddy



Looking into the eyes of Stephanie my daughter, I know deep in my heart that I would, without hesitation, sacrifice my life to save hers if it ever came down to it.  Her gleaming, dimple-faced smile, bear-tight hugs, incessant laughter, and unconditional love make my love for her more important than for myself. 

This was not true when she was born.  Nor did I feel this way by her first birthday.  In fact I felt absolutely nothing for her for nearly the first 15 months of her life.  No, I am not some ogre or a heartless, misguided father.  At least I try not to be.  The fact is, I have never even seen my daughter until my wife and I received her picture in the mail from our adoption agency that wonderful day in September, 2000.

“He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”

Li Ao, as Stephanie was known back then, was living in a foster home in the city of Hanchuan in the Hubei province of China. She, like so many thousands of others just like her, was waiting to be matched to a family that could provide her with a loving home and we, like many other families, were waiting for a child for which we could provide that home.  Prior to seeing her picture and reading the facts about her brief, but eventful life, I wouldn’t have given her a second glance if we passed each other on the street.  But everything is different.  This is our daughter.  Emotions kicked in and a bond started forming.

Beginning with that day in December, 2000 when my wife and I traveled to China and first hugged our Stephanie, our lives changed.  She instantly became a member of our family and immediately the father-daughter bond took hold.  Even though my wife did not carry her for nine months and Stephanie doesn't share either of our genes, she is still our daughter and loved just as much.  I don’t think of her as that abandoned baby that we took in or felt sorry for, but as our daughter whom God has entrusted us with and whom we love without question or condition.

Later, as we formalized her re-adoption for the state of Illinois, the judge lightheartedly warned us saying “She will be entitled to be the heir of our estate”.  We asked ourselves, “Why wouldn’t we want her to be our heir?  She is our daughter.”

I cannot help but make the comparison to my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, said “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 6:5 NIV). 

Sometimes adoption can carry a negative connotation.  Some believe that you cannot love an adopted child as much as a birth child.  Some say adoption is only for those who cannot have a child on their own and is the second best option.  If that is the case, we’re all in trouble because God wouldn’t have adopted us as His children.  But the fact is that He HAS adopted us and, as His children, we are fellow heirs to His kingdom.  He sacrificed all so that we can be adopted and our relationship with Christ is what brings Him pleasure.

Having my own adopted children has, for me, shed new light on God’s love.  I can more clearly see how He can unconditionally love me, even though I am a child of sin.  I can see how He wants what is good for me and what is right for me.  I can see that, in the same way my daughter was adopted, I have been adopted by God and we both will share in the fruits of our adoptive family as heirs.

Stephanie and I often talk about adoption and in fact, we have since, adopted another child.  Stephanie basically understands what it means to be adopted, but to her “adoption” is just a word.  What she really cares about is that she is loved by mom and dad and she has Jesus living in her heart.  

However, deep inside I know Stephanie is thankful that she was adopted and doesn’t have to live the rest of her childhood in an orphanage or a foster home.  She is happy that she can live the rest of her life with her “forever” mommy and daddy. 

Likewise, I am happy and thankful that I was adopted by my Father and that I have a “forever” daddy too!