Thursday, June 23, 2011

Segregation in Adoption

Now and then it comes to the surface with a bit of sting ... segregation in adoption. After our move to central Illinois we found out about a wonderful gathering of families that join together for an evening of fun, food and fellowship. Their common bond? All of the families have adopted {or are in process of adopting} from Ethiopia. I was really excited! My first thought was for my precious 4 yr old (at the time) and how thrilled she'd be to join together with children that looked like her. But you see .... if she was the only one in our family with brown skin, she wouldn't qualify to attend. That hit me. Hard. And I honestly didn't know what to make of what I was even feeling. Her little sister (2 at the time) could really care less what color children's skin is ... she just wanted to be sure Momma and Daddy were staying close by. However, it is her being in our family that "qualify" us to be part of this group. And so we went. It was wonderful!! We met some amazing families who had traveled a similar journey. There's a common bond in adoption. In a way it's like gathering with women who have just shared a birth experience. They get the pain, the wait, the longing, the unknown. Even moreso it is with adoptive families. They GET IT. And THAT is a HUGE blessing.

But there is another side to the equation. A side that has been stirring in my heart for some time that concerns me as I observe the adoption community. It's a side I wrote about in "A Tale of Two Adoptions". It actually took TWO posts .. the second one is HERE. At times there seems to be some underlying segregation.
Take my daughters for example. They both have brown skin. Both adopted. Both have faced loss and brokenness. Both rode airplanes home to FAMILY. Both have had to learn to be part of a family that looks different than their heritage. Both have learned to sit through a white momma learning to do their ethnic hair. YET, as we talked about our fun plans to get to attend the adoptive family gathering this weekend, the oldest (now 6) said to me .... "Momma, are all the children from Ethiopia?". "Yes ...", I replied (unsure of where this was going). Next she asked ... "Are any of the Texas people gonna be there?". You see, just as we have instilled in our youngest (now 4) to know about her birth place and be proud of where she's come from ..... we have also done the same with our spunky Texan babe ... born on US soil. When we attend such events, other families just "assume" often that both of our girls are from Ethiopia. Yet in reality, here in this area if we didn't have our youngest daughter, our other daughter would not even have a diverse adoption gathering to attend. Yet she has the SAME needs.

Am I saying having an adoption gathering based on country is wrong? No, I'm not. It is a huge blessing to gather with other families who have traveled to a country that we also traveled to. They have seen some of the same sights ... smelled some of the same smells ... trecked a similiar, but often unique path to their children. We are THANKFUL to be able to gather with them.

Even still, the "momma of a little brown Texan girl" in me aches at times. Where is HER fanfare? The last time I checked there really wasn't a big crowd standing up saying what a fabulous heritage African Americans have endured here in the US. The history books paint a different reality. One that also needs to be graciously taught to my daughter. She's my one with a personality that craves diversity. I'm thankful she gets to attend this gathering .... even if it's because of her sister. She'll probably even let them all know {boldly} about her home state. "Everything's BIG in TX .... 'cept Me!" is one of her favorite little facts. ;)

I am equally thankful that this precious girl gets to be part of a special gathering from people of her homeland. As I see their faces I am reminded that these are children that no longer lay in orphans' beds, but instead are embraced by families. They no longer have to wait in hopes of food. They no longer lie in cribs, wet, without diapers. As you watch them run and play, you can't help but realize they are not just a statistic .... but they are each a special creation of God, born with a unique purpose.

Recently we had the privilege of spending a few days with a very special family. They are also an adoptive family. As a passerby, you might not even notice. They too know loss and grief and pain and brokenness. They too know about redemption and sacrifice. And to an even greater depth, have two of their precious kiddos had to learn what it means to be part of a family. I was reminded to be careful to not segregate in the adoption community. We have so much we can learn from each other. We need to walk alongside one another being ready to encourage and strengthen and share each other burdens when the weight is heavy. We need to be willing to stand in the suffering of our children and our friends' children and not leave them to walk alone. We need to remind each other of TRUTH, when the lies come in to steal away the JOY the Lord intended.

I'm meeting more and more adoptive families here in central IL. God is doing a beautiful work here and we cannot wait to see what He has for this little corner of the world. It is our deep burden that the church will rise up and answer the cries of the orphan. Not because it's the right thing to do, but because of what Jesus has already done for us. HE is the one to truly minister to the needs of the orphan ... whether that child is across the world or waiting alone in a hospital room here in the US or caught up in the court/foster care system. We are only vessels that He uses. We are NOTHING apart from Him. Food, clothing and even a family can't "fix" the needs of the orphan. Their needs go so much deeper than that. In reality, they are not much different than ourselves. We are often just so blinded by our true need .... our need for Him.

What has been your experience in the adoption community? Have you too felt the subtle threads of segregation? Do you sometimes feel isolated and alone? I would love to hear your story.

Someday ... oh and how I long for the day .... there is a coming a time that all of God's children will stand TOGETHER with no separations and praise Him. Children with broken bodies from disease and abuse and neglect will have NEW BODIES. There will be NO more tears ... NO more pain. I know some of you are walking in the dark places and need that reminder. Do not lose heart. Today is just a small part of the picture.

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