Long Lost Family is a TV show that involves people searching for either their biological parents or their biological children. Sometimes it involves one sibling searching for another. The circumstances differ but there are common scenarios – a teenage girl falls pregnant out of wedlock, she receives little or no support from family or social services, reluctantly she gives her baby up for adoption; children removed from their home due to abuse and placed in foster care; the breakdown of a marriage resulting in a child or children not knowing one of the parents; a child given up for adoption due to adultery or a brief relationship. Whatever the background, it is someone desperately wanting to find long lost family and to understand their past.
These reunions occur in front of cameras and that obviously impacts how they unfold, nevertheless, I have been repeatedly struck by the intensity of emotion as relatives are discovered and finally meet. A few thoughts –
Longing for peace – some mothers carry the guilt of giving up a baby for adoption. They mark the birthday every year on a calendar, they return again and again to photos, baby clothes and toys, they lie awake at night wondering where their child is and if they are okay, they weep often. Some are open about it, but many suffer in silence. They want the chance to explain to their child why they gave them up and in most cases they feel the need to ask for forgiveness.
Longing for identity – for some people their background is a mystery – they don’t know where they came from, who their birth parents are, siblings they may have. As loving as adoptive parents or stepparents may be, they don’t share that blood connection with them. They have a different genetic identity. Investigating genealogy is very popular and people go to great time and expense because they want to know their roots.
Longing for relationship – people who have lost contact with biological family members often maintain a deep desire to bond with them. This is not necessarily due to a lack of love from others, but someone is missing – the flesh and blood mother, father, child, brother, sister. Knowing they could be out there, but not knowing where they are, how they are, what they look like, leaves a gaping hole. They want to see, hold, and talk.
Many Biblical lessons emerge from Long Lost family. This show displays the effects of the fall – the brokenness of humanity through the brokenness of relationships. This show reveals the good providence of God – most of the adopted children were loved and cared for. The adoption system was far from perfect and at particular points even callous, nevertheless, it provided countless children with the opportunity of a good life. This show demonstrates that while human relationships are important, they are all inherently flawed – some reunions actually brought pain rather than healing. This show reflects the deeper longings of the heart. Connecting with relatives is a good thing, but it doesn’t make us whole. As Augustine said, “our heart is restless until it rests in you.” This show points us to the gospel. It’s in Christ that we find true peace, identity, and relationship – with God and with one another. The time is coming when we will be in the manifest presence of God our Father and Jesus our brother – long lost family.