All of the adoption parenting books talk about the adoptee’s burning questions and curiosity about birth family. I thought I was ready for it. We’ve had some conversations about it, and I thought I was doing just fine. I thought I was on top of that game.
Last night, my son broke down and spoke really honestly about how much he wishes he were not an “adopted kid.” I think I kind of get that. I wish for him that he didn’t have to endure allllll the questions. I wish people would not force him to teach anyone he encounters about adoption, birth families, Haiti, and “real” moms. Each of the answers to those questions has come with an overwhelming burden of loss. He hasn’t been able to wrap his own head around this complicated concept yet. He’s not ready to teach. He may never be ready to teach.
There was something about the depth of his sorrow that sent me to a selfish head zone. As much as I claim to be his REAL mother, will I ever fully receive that honor?
Over the years, it’s felt like a punch in the gut with a wrecking ball when I’ve watched people casually erase me from my son’s lineage. When we go out with a black friend, a stranger will tell the friend how cute Luc is, instead of me. If I stand more than two feet from my son, strangers ask him if he is lost. When we went to the ER for Luc’s concussion, every staff member confirmed “Is he your son?” before proceeding. Many people feel a compulsion to tell me what a wonderful thing I have done for Luc, and what a kind person I am. Sometimes they tell me God will reward me, and I inform them that He already did.
Semantics seem minor, but they feel big to me. When people add the qualifier “adoptive” before parents, it stings. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone do that to my face, but it hurts even when they are describing someone else. I think if they did it to my face, it would hurt deeply.
Perhaps the worst is how people assume that adoptive parents don’t love our children as much as biological parents.
So, ya know, anyway … yeah.
Background: Our church Life Group meets at our house on Friday evenings. Right now, we are reading a book about racial reconciliation called “More Than Equals” by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice. We are on Chapter 4, which focuses on knowing who your “neighbor” is as Jesus intended. It seems like an easier concept to grasp than it is. First of all, Jesus did not intend for us to show kindness only to people who are lovable. He noted that anyone can do that. Really allowing God to change our hearts enables us to love the unlovable.
A helicopter arrived and hovered over the house. Then sirens. More helicopters. I joked that I was having flashbacks to our days of living in Inglewood. We all laughed, and then spoke a little louder so that we could hear over the distracting noise. Our book paraphrased the biblical parable about the good Samaritan, and then suggested we read the actual story in the Bible. We did, and we began to debate who was and was not our neighbor. More helicopters arrived and hovered over the house. What about the the person I thought was my friend who stabbed me in the back? More sirens. What about the next door neighbor’s son who used really offensive terminology to inform us that a gay couple lives down the street? Helicopters still hovering loudly. What about Republicans? (Kidding.) My husband noticed a news truck parked at the entrance to our street. So anyway, was Jesus suggesting that we have to be kind and generous to someone after they hurt us or just that we be open minded to a group of people who tend to oppress?
My sister, visiting from GA, was working on some writing in another room. She came in with a worried look on her face. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but can we pray for whatever is going on out there? It sounds really serious.” “Oh! Yes! Of course!” we all replied as we suddenly realized the noise we were trying to talk over might actually be a call to prayer. It turned out that a drunk driver had been running from police, exited the hwy and while crossing a bridge near our house had smashed into another car. The damage was horrendous and everyone had to be cut out of their cars. Thankfully, nobody died.
We had been doing EXACTLY what Jesus was preaching against in our lesson! We were so focused on our curriculum and getting through the chapter in our book that we didn’t even think to notice the practical application LITERALLY just outside the door. Wow. Duh.
Who is my neighbor? My neighbor is anyone God tells me to embrace. Will I change my focus from my to do lists and agenda so that I can hear the nudge next time?
Book Question: What would the racial climate be like if we lived out unconditional forgiveness for others?
Notes from group meeting:
- Things we can learn from putting ourselves in situations and groups outside of our comfort zones: it’s possible, and we are stronger than we thought; we learn more about other perspectives; no group will ever be 100% what we want
- In loving our “neighbor” as Jesus taught, what does that mean regarding people who are an immediate threat? Types of people who are probably a threat? People with belief systems we want to avoid?
My son has been asking about being baptized at church for a while (Read: many months.) (I’m not stalling, it’s just that schedule issues got in the way). Today was finally the day. We went over to the church office to talk about it with the youth minister. (She is wonderful!!)
Luc’s normal energy level is similar to a proton’s. Depriving him of sleep is like adding heat to the proton. We are on day [I’m-too-embarrassed-to-say] of late to bed and early to rise. On top of this, Luc is scared of the baptism process, he’s sure it means swimming naked in front of the whole church. (To any non-Christians: baptism is a clothing required activity.)
My little hot proton and his little hot attitude vibrated into the youth pastor’s office and found a giant stability ball to bounce! Two hot hydrogens and an oxygen. I’ve got boiling water on my hands. But the youth pastor handled my little Luc-ton beautifully. (It may not surprise anyone to learn that all of my chemistry teachers rock back and forth with their arms around their knees when they hear my name.)
We met for a long time. Luc revealed a lot about his beliefs and hopes and fears. We even came away with a pencil sketch of a plan for a future baptism once Luc makes his final decision.
By the time we said good-bye to the youth pastor, it was so late that someone else had to unlock the main door. They chatted with us for a bit. But Luc’s increasing fatigue had lowered his temperment to the red zone: kicking my purse. But wait, there’s more! And when I repeatedly asked him to stop, he smiled ear to ear, winked, and resumed kicking my purse!!
I was super embarrassed. It was one of those Mommy moments where you promise everyone that the behavior is unusual, and nobody believes you. I wondered aloud (rookie mistake) if his behavior was due to fatigue or an independence stage.
Response (closed-mouth smile with raised eyebrows): “Well, they behave if you give them what they need.”
(Wait. What? Am I being accused of neglecting my son’s needs? I’m being told to my face right now that my son’s behavior is unreasonable and that I’m a bad mom?)
Me (tension-relief joke): “Or if you give them what they want, am I right? Haw?”
Response: “Oh no, they’ll never behave if you give them what they want too much.”
Okay, well thanks. It was great chatting with ya! And I walked away with my terrible mom tail tucked between my terrible mom legs. Today, the answer to the name of my blog is evidently NO.