Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's Not All Black and White

We went to our first training meeting with our foster care agency last week. Pretty soon it became evident that my husband and I were the only participants there that looked like us. I sat there wondering if it was obvious to everyone else as well. That's when it hit me .... once again .... and hard.

This is what life is like for my two daughters. In their Sunday School class. In their swimming lessons. In their local DQ. In our family. It is their reality. And they do notice. Without me saying a word.

But it's not all black and white. {It's not all about color or ethnicity or racial division.}

None of this caught us by surprise.  We researched, attended boat loads of classes and read nearly an entire library on adoption/becoming a mixed-ethnic family.  We LOVE and EMBRACE the diversity in our family. I can't imagine our family looking any different. Yet in that room, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew I needed to just sit there awhile and let it sink in. I felt myself get a little nervous. What would happen later in the day as we got to know each other a bit?
 What would they think of me?  A white momma raising black children. I'm well aware not everyone shares the same views on this.

Sure enough lunch time came and we all chatted over our fried chicken. Bits of our stories were shared and then someone asked about my baby girls. I sat there wishing I had the courage and confidence of my 8 year old. Instead I somewhat fumbled over my words. Must have been that fear of rejection that raises it's ugly head now and again. I did what any Momma would do and let a picture speak for itself. And then they wanted to know more.

You see, it's not all black and white. {A momma's bond runs deep and goes beyond the color of skin.}

They could see my baby girls are dearly loved. They wondered how and why we'd overcome all the obstacles of distance and paperwork and finances. And it all comes down to this .... these precious little ones needed a family to come. So we went.

What about culture? Well, in a way we've each left the culture we once knew and together are embracing a new culture together. Oh trust me, the Texan girl has some BIG thoughts on where she was born! And our sweet daughter born in Ethiopia enjoys learning about her native land. Yet to be FAMILY we must learn to build a new culture together.

And so this is why it was important that this Momma sit awhile last week in that class and just FEEL it. Because to raise my girls well, I must not be ignorant of the bigger world my daughters are growin' up in.

It's really not all black and white. {It's not simple. Yet it's good.}

While we chatted with our new friends I realized that none of them knew much about adoption. When I shared how one of our daughters would have been going into foster care they quietly gasped. YES, in America. YES, in this decade. YES, in their ethnic group. YES, so often this is reality. Fear faded and I was confident they no longer were hearing from a white woman who was raising black children ... no rather they were hearing from a Momma who would have climbed any mountain to get to her daughters.

But you see it's not enough that these girls have a Momma to raise them now. I'm not their only Momma. I must stop frequently in the busyness of my life and care enough to SIT and FEEL with them. I must be willing to curl up with my 8 yr old and let her be sad sometimes when the pangs of grief rumble. I must be willing to teach my 5 yr old about her past. THIS is part of their culture ... part of OUR culture as a family. It comes with LOSS and GRIEF and BROKENNESS. This is all part of the picture. And it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to see that it's not all black and white. There are so many grey areas in this adoption journey.

Might I add, if you are an adoptive Momma, yet your children share similar skin color to you ... it all still applies. No matter if your child was placed in your arms at 15 days old, or 15 years ... there is loss. That loss needs a voice. And you are an integral part of that happening. It's not all black and white.


God has entrusted these two precious little ones in my care. I can trust that He's going to walk with me on this journey. He's going to walk with US on this journey. I get the incredible privilege of teaching my girls that even when I was not there ... even when their birthmoms were not there ... they were NEVER fully alone. He was there. And that's a powerful thing.

I'm thankful for meeting our new friends in class. Two of them were sisters who grew up in a fostering family. One told me their Momma taught them to NEVER have prejudice because of skin color or disability. Their Momma was a smart woman. I can't imagine how proud she'd be having two of her daughters now opening up their homes and hearts to children in need. Hearing from second-generation fostering families was such a BLESSING. At our table sat three of them. Children growing up to later go on and help make a difference in the lives of more. Now that is an amazing culture to be part of!