We live in unsettled times. We hear the story of the struggles and challenges of a woman who was adopted as a child and faced the opposition and prejudices of those around her. We hear how she responded and ultimately found her place in a satisfying source. A humorous and beautiful conversation.
Our guest: Samantha Dooley. Sam is the acting deputy commissioner for the Disability Services Commissioner Victoria and regularly attends St Augustine’s Anglican church in Moreland.
This conversation was recorded in partnership with St Augustine's Anglican Church in Moreland.
Check out the video from our Monday night Facebook Premiere (you can still access the video after the Premiere).
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Sam - we’re talking today about finding your place - has your sense of place been disrupted by lockdowns and the challenges of Coronavirus restrictions?
We like to kick off Bigger Questions with some smaller questions - just to get us thinking. Today we’re asking Sam Dooley about adoption, finding our place and belonging. So Sam, our smaller questions today are about adoption and belonging in children’s fiction. Two questions about the lives of two of the most famous orphans of children's fiction: Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter.
Sam’s Story: finding place
So Sam, it’s an interesting theme in fiction for children to be adopted and then struggle with acceptance and a sense of place and belonging. Now your story isn’t one of fiction, but it is a story of adoption and finding your place. So do you mind sharing your story - maybe start at the beginning with your early life - do you know where you were born?
Then you were adopted? What was the story behind your adoption?
Your name was Samantha already wasn’t it?
Adoption can be a very challenging experience, there are different experiences of adoption, as Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter both illustrate to some extent. How was your experience?
When did you find out you were adopted?
How did you feel when you found out?
How did others react? That wasn’t necessarily a pleasant experience?
Sam’s Story: finding place in God’s family
But your story also led you to meet a Christian family, can you tell us about that?
How was that experience of going to church? Some suggest that church people are judgemental and hypocritical - what did you discover?
What was it about the Christian message that resonated with you?
The Bible’s answer: God’s people are adopted
Adoption is a theme in the Bible. It’s found in the opening section of the book of Ephesians, which is one of the letters written by the Apostle Paul in the First Century Paul. In Ephesians 1:4-6 Paul writes:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
This passage emphasises being chosen ‘in him’, ‘in Christ’, now Singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth said, “Adopted children were not abandoned, we were chosen." Is the biblical image of being chosen by God something which is particularly powerful for you?
In verse 5 of Ephesians 1 here, the Greek word used for adoption to sonship is a legal term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture. How does that concept resonate with you?
What difference does it make to you to know you’re chosen by God and adopted by him?
The passage continues and Paul writes in verses 7-10,
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
This passage has been described as a ‘kaleidoscope of dazzling lights’ - is that how you see it?
So when you walk into church, how do you feel?
Reflections on adoption
Have you sought to find your biological parents?
The Big Question
So Sam, where can I find my place?