As I sat in Old Testament class listening to Professor Roberts discuss the Book of Job one dreary November morning in 1981, the radiators in Stuart Hall groaned and hissed. I was barely able to tease my psyche, because you see, my heart and my mind were at home with my wife.
Almost two weeks earlier, my wife Karen and I had been contacted by Goodwill Home and Missions Adoption Agency. We were told that within a month we would receive a new baby. The child’s birth mother was due any day.
To say that we were excited is a gross understatement. As any expectant parents, we were already choosing names for our child; we had collected furniture. It was as if we had to complete nine months of preparation in two weeks.
Dr. Robert’s interminably long lecture finally ended and I wandered out of Stuart 6. Written in large red letters on the back of a manila folder taped on the back door was: TO JAMES P. STOBAUGH: CONGRATULATIONS! IT’S A GIRL! The message filled my heart with inexpressible joy. Our little girl had been born.
Karen and I deliberately chose to tie our lives to Jessica’s life. And so it is with God. Those of you who call yourselves Christian were chosen by God before time had any meaning. He chose you. If you think about it, because He knew and predestined you to be His son or daughter, all you could do is choose to respond to His love. The proper response to God’s love is faith. This is a faith that shows that you trust His Word.
Baby girl Jane Doe, a female infant with no name, no past or future, is suddenly, inextricably, permanently drawn into our lives. Jessica becomes our inheritance. She take our name and our lives are to be forever tied together. In the eyes of God and the state of New Jersey, Jessica is reborn as our daughter.
Hear the description of Jessica’s adoption as it is recorded in Middlesex County Courthouse. “And it is further ordered and adjudged that from and after the date of this adoption, the right, duties, privileges, and relations heretofore existing between Jessica Ruth Stobaugh and any other persons founded upon such relationships, shall in all respects be at an end.” In other words, all of Jessica’s past dissolved when she was adopted by us.
At the moment we adopted Jessica Ruth our parents became her grandparents, her children our grandchildren. Her pain is our pain; her victories, our victories. We willingly, joyfully enter this commitment.
How extraordinary, and incomprehensible it is that a white boy from the heart of Dixie is connected forever with a black Yankee infant.
One of the best things I ever did!