Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Weighty

This whole adoption process, young as it may be, brings up a host of weighty matters. And I have debated with myself whether to post about them here, because frankly, it's not all "puppies and sunshine." And because blogging hard stuff leaves you vulnerable to anyone who cares to chime in, whether to agree or disagree, to support or condemn. And because generally, blogging about something means you understand what you're writing about.

But it's quite the opposite here. I'm writing to learn to understand.

I read a lot of Ethiopian adoption blogs. And these are matters that very few seem willing to address. Race, culture, prejudice, self-identity. None of it is surface stuff, easily wrapped up in a nice little package. And maybe these aren't addressed for all the reasons I fear to do so myself. And someday, my children will read these words...how will it affect them? So I tread lightly, but I want to be real, and I want to gain perspectives that I don't have...if for no other reason than it will make me a better mother to my Ethiopian daughter. And God is bringing around us people to educate and encourage us. For that I am thankful.

For us, a child is a child is a child. We want a daughter, and somewhere in Ethiopia is a daughter who needs a family. Perfect, right? Yes, if we lived in a vacuum. If only it were so easy. At first, I assumed that our daughter would face prejudice being one of few African Americans in a primarily white world, at least where we live. But I'm learning that it could be prejudice against us for being "superior whites" who think that an African baby would be better off with us. And even in those statements, I have doubts that I'm the right person for this job, because I don't know even the "politically correct" terms. African American? Is that pc? Or is "black" preferable, or "Black?" Ethiopian American? And does what you say vary by region? And does it matter at all, and if so, why? You would think that a person in the process of adopting from Africa would have answers to these questions. But I don't, and that scares me. Scares me to tears.

Self-identity, from I've been reading, is a big deal for kids who have been adopted. Why isn't there anyone else who looks like me? Why am I different? Does that make me less valuable? Add those questions to the "Didn't my mother love me enough to keep me?" questions, and you've got some deep troubled waters flooding your child's heart.

We're just at the very tippiest point of the tip of the iceberg here, but I have a lot of fears. For our daughter, for ourselves...that we handle all of this rightly. Our family will never be the same, but that is not where our fears and doubts lay. That's where our hope is.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

I know the reconciliation Paul is writing about is reconciliation to God through the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ. I know that. But it speaks to me of new things to come from being an ambassador of reconciliation, and I think that can apply broadly to race and culture. Make us new, forging a path between cultures for the love of Christ to follow.

I know there are some who would say it's not worth the effort, that this is too hard...leave the work to others who "know" more, who are more qualified to handle this stuff. There are those who would say it's not healthy for kids to go through a transracial adoption. No matter which way you slice it or what your perspective is, bringing a child of a different race, any race, will be hard.
But just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not right.
And that's what we need to remind ourselves of...
"Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death..." (Jeremiah 21:8).
For our daughter, and thousands and millions of other orphans, we must choose life over difficulty. Life over convenience. Life over prejudice. We choose to be a blessing for life.

It's my prayer that this post isn't offensive, and that with it you can see our heart in all of it. And if you have valuable perspective or experience, please share...either by email or comment here. Thanks...and blessings.

3 comments:

Heather said...

Rest assured that if the Lord has prompted you to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia, that you will receive the help you need to accomplish it. He never gives us something to do without providing a way to accomplish it. From your posts I can tell that you have an abundance of love in your heart, combined with your strong faith, hope, and charity, you cannot fail. Any child that comes to a family brings special challenges, even when they come from your body. The Lord will walk with you, He will inspire you with the insight you need to raise those He entrusts to your care. My daughter and I will include you in our prayers. :-D

T said...

Sis-every family is dysfunctional in some way. Race or adoption issues aside, who hasn't questioned their reason for existence or why things are as they are. God will lay the answers on your heart for the questions ALL your children will have,including those of the dark skinned beauty you will bring home.
Maybe race is not discussed because it's not a true problem or issue in a strong Christian home such as yours is. I know you want to have everything lined out in your mind now, but your future daughter's biggest obstacle has already been hurdled by God-- He has already picked her out for you and everything else will fall into place. You'll see.
I love you and can't wait for my new niece.

VELVET said...

t is right - the biggest hurdle is already taken care of - you KNOW God has already chosen your family for this little girl. and that is what it comes down to. she is your daughter, regardless of where she was born. so whatever other obstacles come, you will be able to handle it, because it always goes back to that.
you know, andy (who is adopted, as well) comes from a family that adopted 4 african-american kids. it was always so clear that those kids were meant to be mckays - so color of skin or birth origin became kind of a non-issue.
regarding self-identity...for his family, just being open and honest in a loving way really helped reassure the kids that they were where they were meant to be. it was just matter-of-fact that their quality of life would have been compromised if they weren't adopted. it was approached more like 'your birth mother couldn't take the best care of you' and not 'my birth mother didn't love me'. i think that helped the kids feel more secure.
i know it's hard. but this is your child. and your family is stronger than anything out there in the world.
ps - i don't know the pc terms either :) andy's sibs just call themselves black :) and roll their eyes when people go crazy trying to be all pc!