Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yes, She's Mine - Reflections on Adoption

As a follow up to 'A Fraidy Cat Finds Inspiration', my friend, now into her 3rd year as an adoptive mom, has graciously allowed me to share a recent experience with you. These words are hers. I asked if I could share her thoughts with you as a way of allowing you to continue following her journey. With her permission, I have edited her original note for clarity. Hope you enjoy! 
In her own words:
Take a peek into the brain of a mom who has adopted African children to complete her all-American, Caucasian family. Beautiful, black children. Dark as the dark continent, mysterious, and lovely children. 
Today during our co-op classes, a stranger approached me. She had seen my daughter give me a hug and kiss as I walked by her classroom. "Is she yours?" the stranger asked.

My brain screamed, “NO!!! I just randomly kiss children that run up to me.”

As if that were not enough, the stranger pressed on: "Is she adopted?" 
Again, my brain screamed, “NO!! I am married to a gorgeous, 6'6" black man...why would you ask that? WHAT IF I WAS married to a black man, and you've just insulted our family?” A big smooch to the man who promised to love, honor, and adopt children with me as he's already heard me rant on this one. 
We moms in the adopted world have a store of comments that we'd like to use for people like Ms. Stranger. I'm not sure the dads care; they're not as caddy as we moms are, nor as tired. In my arsenal of unspoken ammunition, I've locked and loaded the following: 
-Q: Is that your child? A: No! That's not my child! Why is that child kissing me!!! Someone help!

-Q: Is she adopted? A: Yes...she's mine. Wait! Why no! we just had a random black child...genetic thing...wayyy back. Recessive gene.... it happens!

-Q: Is she legally yours? A: Ahh...not going to touch that one. Really?

-Q: Can I touch their hair? A: Can we touch yours?

-Q (directed AT my CHILD) So do you miss your home? A: Seriously, people! Have you ever heard of attachment issues? THIS is now their home.

-Q: So why did their mother have to give them up? A: What's wrong with YOU? Do you not see see their mom standing right here. By the way, I DON'T EVEN KNOW YOU, MR. STANDING IN LINE AT SAM'S????

Seriously. We are happy to talk about our adoption. However, it does not define us as a family. We are we. We are everyday trying to be we. NOT a walking 20/20 special. We are one of THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of adopted families. 
Don't ask us if it is hard with our kids standing right there. Yes, it's hard. Every day. Parenting is hard for any kids – everyday. Living is hard – everyday. We have Christ. Period. 
I'm so glad to tell you how we were led to adopt. How it went. The miracles that happened along the way, but do not, DO NOT, adopt a child if you are not willing to make it a life long commitment. 
It is neat. It is, tho', not just about tears at an airport. The child I waited for and thought was the cutest most adorable little guy bit me and kicked me in the stomach three days after he arrived in the USA. That's real life. We are common. We're a normal family that is going through our third year of attachment. We are not uncommon. There are adoptive families everywhere.

I will talk to you about it....but not every time I am getting ready to put a bite of food in my mouth at every function that I'm invited to. I do want to share with you God's immense blessings, but it's been so hard at times that sometimes we need a break from talking adoption. We just want to talk about life as a normal family. We can share God's great blessings on us that have nothing to do with adoption. Our life is more than just adoption issues. You do realize that, right?

Please know that if I don't know you, I won't talk too much. You are asking me very, very private questions. These children don't have much of their own. They have hardly any history, any privacy. I have committed that from here on out, I am going to be firm and forthright for my children. It has taken a while for me to realize that it is ok for me to say, “I'm sorry, but I don't know you. I'm not comfortable giving information about my children to people I don't know.” 
It's almost easier to make a funny response to your question than to gently defer your rudeness...especially if my children are standing RIGHT THERE! What if my African children were NOT adopted and heard you question their parentage? Can you imagine the response. “Mommy? Why would that lady think I'm adopted?”

Maybe this sense of decorum boils down to choosing our conversations in a good time and place. Practice decorum, and don't just fly by me, randomly hit the information buzzer, and expect me to spit out an answer. My husband told me that I should pull out my cell and 'take a call' when strangers approach so rudely. 
Adoption has become a really neat thing for people. I'm going to be borderline blasphemous here and tell you: it's not for everyone. I homeschool. I love it. It's not for everyone. You can be supportive of homeschooling as a choice, but it doesn't mean you do it, right? Be supportive of adoption, but be careful that you really know what you're getting into before you do it. These children are not puppies you can give back. 
The call to Christians is to love orphans and widows. How can you do that? Many ways. The woman who approached me so rudely today finally told me the reason she was asking is that she's thinking of adopting. Then, she started reeling off what sex, age, and sibling preferences she had. It was as if she had her shopping list all ready to go. You see, it has to be a God thing. Wait for him. Don't shop for it. He'll show you if you're meant to adopt. If he doesn't, be glad because you DON'T want to do it if it's not the greatest and BEST thing for your family. 

So, yes, “She's mine." And, I know we're like an Oreo family. Three girls. Three boys. Three German white kids. Three Mother Continent African kids. We do stick out, but please, OH PLEASE, let us just be like you – a family. We need that. She's mine. Yes. I'm hers. I labored for each of my children although in different ways. I bled for each of them in different ways. We're trying to knit together. Thank you for your interest ma'am.... and, of course, she's mine. Rrrring!! Ooops Sorry, need to take this call....

(Note: all photos published with the expressed consent of my friend. As you can see, her eldest daughter has a way with a camera lens!)


  1. and the flip side of that is other people asking the child questions about her 'real' mom......

  2. As someone who was adopted, and has been through the ups and downs of going through the system and forming a new family, I know exactly what it is like, and I KNOW my parents did a lot of praying with us because it has been a lifelong commitment. They adopted us, so they got the joy of having young children to raise in a Christian home, take on vacations, do homework with, teach to ride a bike, take to school, send off to college... but they also got the traumatic side effects that our early life had on my brother... mental and emotional problems, behavior problems, the normal teenage rebellion, wondering where you went wrong when your child makes a mistake and you thought you taught them all right. My parents have never given up on us, and they continue to embrace us and show us God's love.

  3. Jess, Long as I've known you, I don't know your 'whole' story. Thanks for sharing this part with me. Your folks have much to be proud of because you are a lovely young lady with a real testimony of God's grace!