Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feb. 25, 2009 Be Careful What you Say

We have been working hard on compiling all of our international adoption forms the past two weeks. Right now, Mike and I are doing our "self assessment" forms in preparation for the homestudy. Besides all the documentation we have to pull together since we were 18 years old, we have to complete a writing project that describes our childhood and families, along with our views on racial issues and adoptions in general. Since we have 7 adopted children, we have a good picture on domestic adoptions and how family dynamics change with each new addition, but they want us to understand how much different it will be with a child from another culture or race.

I find that the hardest to process. I mean, I know for a fact that the living standard in Ethiopia is extremely different than ours in America. I can't really remember anytime in my life where food was not readily available, even if it were not my favorite food, I have never gone hungry. I have not lived midst the fear of wars in my hometown, or drinking water that was unsafe. I have not lost my parents or siblings to a dreaded disease, and I have never been persecuted for my religious beliefs. But when it comes to loving and accepting a child into our home, I can do that. Sure, this child will come from a different landscape and lifestyle than me or my friends. An Ethiopian child will be set apart from us in color and hairstyle. But will it really be that much different than loving a new child and learning all about them than any of the other children who have come into our lives through birth or adoption?

This Ethiopian child may face discrimination in America. I can not control that. This child may have medical issues that will take time to figure out, or language differences that we will have to work hard to learn to communicate with. I will try my best to make those issues as least traumatic as possible. A child who has lost her family of origin, but who can be enveloped and loved in another family that God has put together by bits and pieces, this is the child that waits for us in Ethiopia.

I know this is an imperfect world, but I hope to offer this new child a resting place, a place of peace and opportunity. Food when he is hungry, comfort when he cries. A security of sleeping in a soft warm home at night, and an active lifestyle where she can become her best. I want to be able to teach this child the importance of love and kindness, and to accept what she can not change, and embrace with fervor the things she can. I want this child to know the love of God and the wonder of herself as a creation of a loving Saviour. I want to be able to offer him fun and family and fellowship in a church family who cares about how he lives his life.

It is just hard to express all of this on a written form that is intended to help you identify why you want to adopt another child in the first place. I know the need in Ethiopia is great for parent-less children to find forever families. I know the expense prohibits many families from taking the step to bring a child home. I also know that deep inside of me is the desire to make a difference to at least one more life, and for us, the desire it to complete that through international adoption. I just do not know that the words I wrote on the agency form is going to convince them of that.

My car broke down yesterday. In the midst of my early morning travels, I found myself on the side of the road, thankfully dialing my cell phone and then feeling the comfort of knowing Mike was on his way with a solution that would have us back on the road in a short time. What I didn't know until hours later was that when I called Mike, he was taking the 3 youngest to school, and Mere' heard her daddy say "Mom. Car. Died." There were more words, but what she heard was devastating to her little mind. She started her school day out fine, but as time wore on, she started worrying and replaying the words her five your old mind retained about that early morning phone call, and began pacing in worry that if mom had died, she would be at school forever, and she was frightened. When I picked her up, she looked at me with shock, and described, with prompting, how she worried and cried at school and figured I would never be able to pick her up again.

After a day of comforting her while she was velcro stuck to my side the rest of the day, I was able to put her to sleep last night with the promise that if I were not able to pick her up for any reason, I would make sure that someone would be there for her. I would not just leave her at school, but someone that we loved and trusted would step in if I were not able to be there for her.

Mike commented later on how he should be careful what he says. He had no idea only a few of his words would stick in Mere's mind, and it would be of great trauma to her little day. But I kept thinking how important it is to be careful of what we say, and it added up to even more in line with the words I have written in my adoption assessment. Did I say all the things that mattered? Did I express how much I wanted to express about my desire for this unknown to us (yet) child of our heart? Was I careful to use words to convey that desire?

Mere skipped off to school today just fine. She is secure in knowing she is loved and taken care of, and her fears, so real to her, have been soothed with our words of comfort.

I can't help but wonder if we will be watching another child skip off to school one day, a child from Ethiopia that may not have had the opportunity of an education had he not been allowed to join our family. And I just hope the words we speak and the love in our hearts that is growing daily for this unknown child will be enough to send her off into the world, confident and secure in knowing a family waits at home so she never has to feel alone and scared again.

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