Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Tale of Two Adoptions - Part 1

It appears that the horrendous flu has finally left our home and family. Yahoo!!! After playing catch-up for a week or so, I am finally getting back to things here where I was supposed to be sharing about the Tale of our Two Adoptions. :)

People that don't know us personally, often assume our daughters are both from Ethiopia. Why that is, I'm not exactly sure .... there are children with brown skin being born each day in America needing families as well. Three years into this journey though and I'm seeing that is not just an isolated assumption. It's led me to really analyze our two adoptions and quite frankly I'm amazed at how really different they were. Some of this may have to do with technology.

Six years ago (when we began our domestic adoption) we didn't have a blog. Goodness, I didn't know what a blog was! We primarily learned about other adoptive families through agency and ministry websites. We knew a very, very small hand full of other adoptive families. Four years ago (with our Ethiopian adoption) things were very different for us. We were welcomed into the world of blogging. What an INCREDIBLE source of support that brought. It was a beautiful way to communicate our process and progress to friends and family all over the world. It also brought a huge sense of comradeship with other adoptive families. We never felt alone, as we did with our first adoption.

Before I go any further into this post, let me just say as I have before .... this is only OUR experience. I cannot speak for what other families have faced. And I should probably also say that some of the things I'm going to share here are hard to hear. So with that lovely disclaimer, let me share with you some of what we experienced in both adoptions.

With our domestic adoption, back in 2004, ethnicity was a BIG DEAL. The phone calls to agencies went something like this ...
"Hello ... Agency Adoption? ... yes, this is Shelly. My family and I have a deep burden for children being born in the US with need of a family. Could you please tell me what your program is like and what you sense the needs are?"

I then would be asked about what types of situations we were open to ... everything from medical needs, emotional needs, a variety of disorders ... and then it would always come back to ethnicity. You see, ethnicity was all how it was broken down into categories. I learned about ethnicity that I didn't even know existed. Labels that I didn't even know what they meant.

Then I would proceed to let the social worker know that we were open to all ethnicity .... especially those with the greatest need. That typically brought us to the break down of the AA section. And no, I'm not talking about the "Absolutely Adorable". They were referring to ethnicity and genetics. AGAIN, I would say that we were open to any ethnicity .... especially those with the greatest need of a family. That brought us to the nitty-gritty. You see even in the AA group it got broken down further with most agencies. There was FULL African American and Bi-racial. I then learned that Bi-racial meant nearly any other ethnicity mixed with AA. I remember one day hearing the voice of the social worker .... "Oh, you are open to FULLLLL BLACK?????" My heart sank deeper than I knew was possible. We were far enough into the process to know God's call on our life .. to know there was NO turning back .. to know these CHILDREN she spoke of .... that one was our child! I was no longer an inquirer on the other end of the phone .... I was a MOTHER.

Adopting domestically for a (full) AA child in 'my' country began one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I grew ANGRY. Angry that I lived in a world still full of prejudice. Angry that there were children being broken into categories based on their ethnicity and depending on what those stats were determined their chances of a family. Of a F-A-M-I-L-Y??? Every human deserves to belong to a family.

Fast forward to after we brought home our AMAZING little African American-spunky Texan girl!! .... and again we'd be faced with these realities. People were convinced she couldn't possibly be full-AA, because of her skin tone. Even some friends would mention this meaning it was a really good thing! You could tell by the tone in their voice .... their certainty that she couldn't possibly be full black. My heart would shriek in silence and I would hold my precious daughter closer nearly in fear of what the future would hold for her. I was seeing in a small way, what many before me have lived. What many fellow humans in 'my' country have lived. There were many solemn moments. During that season we didn't have a lot of other families we knew that had adopted domestically and I felt very alone and sad and yet SO THANKFUL .... so incredibly THANKFUL that God had given us HIS eyes for HIS children. And I just kept trusting Him to be the mom He created me to be. You see, He knew before the beginning of time that there would be this little girl in need of a family. I still to this day am moved to tears with the realization it was me. I don't even come close to deserving such BLESSING. {Naomi is age 2 in this photo ~ taken on Mothers Day as we were waiting on our 2nd daughter from Ethiopia}


  1. Thanks for sharing and yes you are so blessed and she is Absolutely Adorable!! ♥ Looking forward to hearing more about your adoption journeys!

  2. Thanks for sharing, it's funny the assumptions people make and EVERYBODY has an opinion. I think it is funny that everyone thought your little girl is not full Black. My daughter is also born in the US and everyone assumes she was born in Africa, I always get this little sense of disappointment when I say was born here. It bothers me sometimes, like she is less worthy b/c she is not born in some far away land. Anyway, thanks for listening.