Understanding Theologically the Experience of the Adopted Child in Counseling
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This dissertation argues that parents positively influence a child’s perception of his own adoption experience by modeling for him the doctrine of adoption as an aspect of salvation in Christ. The particular focus within the adoption experience will be the adopted child’s broken sense of identity in relationship and the fallout in the child’s responses in the present situation. This dissertation argues that the doctrine of adoption, dynamically lived out by adoptive parents, gives the framework for bringing restoration to the child’s self-perception in relationship. The key element of the doctrine on display in the parent’s conduct toward the child is the filial permanence of God as father.This thesis conducts a literature review to show the key themes of the adoption experience. Key themes are considered in the frameworks in which they are presented before critically engaging with them from a theological standpoint. Next, a biblical theology of adoption is presented, which will acknowledge the cultural practice of adoption in the Roman culture of the apostle Paul’s day that informs a proper understanding of his use of υἱοθεσία (adoption). Third, an analysis of the leading literature on caring for adopted children is conducted using David Powlison’s three epistemological principles as the framework for evaluating and critiquing. Lastly, the relationship the theology of adoption has to adopted children is presented, advancing a theology of the experience of adopted children, especially focusing on one’s conscious awareness of adoption and how that informs one’s self-perception.