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So excited to welcome our newest contributor Carrie, a friend and fellow orphan advocate. Carrie and her husband Jacob spent four years caring for orphans at New Day Foster home in China, where they also welcomed daughter Cora. Now, back in the US, Carrie and Jacob are beginning the journey to adopt through China’s special needs program and she will be sharing with us here as she goes…

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I’ve loved rain for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the drought-struck Panhandle of Texas in a family intimately tied to agriculture (which is intimately tied to annual rainfall), rain was like our manna… necessary for our survival. Except it didn’t come every day.

One of my earliest memories is of praying. Staring out the window of our small trailer, feeling the worry and stress of the adults, I prayed for rain to fill the deep cracks splitting open the soil. I was only 3.

And, predictably, my next earliest memory is of bargaining with God.

There was a downpour the next day. The adults were thrilled but started worrying about the possibility of hail destroying the bedraggled crops. I, on the other hand, was quite pleased with myself. God had heard my prayers and had come in on a rain cloud, just as I imagined. But I had something more I wanted.

“Now that I know you’re here,” I remember saying as I watched the deluge, “please bring me a baby brother or a baby sister.”

It was only a few months and my parents got the phone call every waiting adoptive parent longs to hear. I met my little brother in an airport, upon my return from a visit to my grandparents. My mom handed him to a nun waiting in the airport to hold while she greeted me and introduced me to the answer to my prayers. I will never forget the third most vivid memory of my childhood… seeing that nun in her full habit holding a tiny baby boy, my new little brother.

“I always knew that’s what angels looked like,” I said of the nun, convinced she had materialized right then and there to answer my prayer.

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Adoption has been a part of my story for as long as I can remember. It’s literally the focus of my earliest memories. As the only biological child in my family, there were times when I wished I had also been adopted. It seemed, to one not experiencing the grief and loss that comes with the territory, like such a cool way to join a family.

After college, I went to work at an adoption agency – entering the hyper-promotional stage of my adoption frenzy, convinced that every living/breathing adult needed to adopt an orphan. A few years later, my husband and I moved to China to volunteer at New Day Foster Home. Four years of hands-on orphan care taught me so much, and I came away more committed to the idea of adoption yet more fearful of it as well. I certainly no longer thought the only requirement for becoming an adoptive parent should be a pulse.

In the midst of all this, my husband and I had our first daughter. She is wild and free. A hurricane of love, determination, joy, and sheer exuberance. She is healthy, advanced, and besides a freakishly strong will, has no issues that make parenting a challenge. And yet it is. Parenting eats my lunch. I love her more than anything, but I’ve grown quite convinced that I’m in desperate need of parenting manna.

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Yet here we are.

Waiting on our immigration approval. Staring at a pile of paperwork we’ve worked 5 months to assemble. Wading through a list of 190 different medical conditions trying to say yes and no to each of them. (And learning fairly quickly that Wikipedia is NOT the way to research the more obscure conditions unless you enjoy feeling terrified and overwhelmed.)

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One might think that the more experience you have with adoption and exposure you have to orphans, the more equipped you would feel to become an adoptive parent yourself. I think for us, the exact opposite has been true. We don’t get to wear rose-colored glasses. Ignorance can be bliss, but we’ve seen too much to be blissful.

The other day I was speaking to my grandma and we were talking about our adoption process. She told me, “Since you were a little girl you said you would adopt a baby and maybe have one baby. At the time I would just smile and nod, but here you are! Doing just what you said you always wanted to do.”

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And she’s right… This journey started way back when I was three years old and praying for rain. Jacob and I feel strongly this adoption is meant to be a part of our family’s story, but it isn’t a chapter we take lightly. We’re starting down this road filled with equal parts excitement and terror… and praying for that daily manna to get us through.



Why you may hear me singing daily

I love shiny. Shiny is pretty. I love shiny….

She’s the finder of pennies. Everywhere she goes, she manages to find a penny. Today’s found treasure led to a song.

Your turn to sing a song, Mommy. You make up a song.

Not feeling particularly like a Maria this morning,

Oh, I don’t know what to sing about, honey.

Which warranted this reply,

I have an idea! Why don’t you sing this, ‘I love Lydia. I love Lydia. I love Lydia…’ [put to her own version of music]

At that point, I couldn’t help but be all in. I belted out my own rendition, adding a bridge about how cute she is.

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I watched her making funny faces wearing her “I love Mom” shirt, and it struck me how secure she can be as my child while insecurities live right beneath the surface. She can tell me to sing a song about my love for her because she knows I do. She can ask me to push her on the swing and tease me about her growing bigger when I’ve told her I want her to stay small forever because she knows she’s mine and I’m hers.

And yet…

She walks a bit ahead of me in the store and loses sight of me for a second then runs to me, “I thought I was lost. I thought you left me.” It’s time to take the kids to school, and she sees us all putting on our shoes as we do every morning, and she panics to grab hers quickly, “Don’t leave me! Don’t leave without me!” She yells for me from her room, and I don’t hear her right away or respond right away, “You didn’t hear me. You forgot me!”

It’s the juxtaposition she lives with all the time—knowing she belongs and she’s loved and yet experiencing something very hard called abandonment followed by a year of missing the earthly relationship she needed most of all.

I’ll keep singing, “I love Lydia, I love Lydia, I love Lydia…” It won’t make the hard stuff go away, but I pray that all our love songs will make her journey through it all a little easier.

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Chinese if you please

Once we’ve had our adopted Chinese children home for a while, they become very American, don’t they? Fluent English speakers, pudgy and healthy, faces aglow. Video games, Kraft mac-n-cheese, Gap Kids clearance clothes, and all the rest.

But then there are moments when Jubilee will stop what she is doing and stare off into space, her mind a million light years away. Or a seemingly insignificant struggle might bring tears of deep anguish, and I’m pretty sure she is feeling something deeper than the disappointment of losing her favorite jar of nail polish.

One might figure things would be different for our family, since we live in our daughter’s home country. It is true, she has “her people” all around her. But still, she is growing up in our home, speaking our language, eating our food, and wearing our clothes. She won’t relearn her mother-tongue until she is old enough to join her brothers’ private tutoring sessions, which happen from 1:30-2:30, Wednesdays and Fridays.

She can see her previous world, but she can’t quite touch it. It is a very interesting dynamic.

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And so we are in much the same boat as most of you. We are white Americans raising a Chinese child. Being a blended family, however, is far from a negative thing to be. It is an opportunity! A blessing! A chance to celebrate God’s creativity and taste for variety.

This gets sticky, though, because we don’t want to assume our adopted Chinese children want their “other-ness” celebrated. Many adoptees would rather fit in than stand out.

But many adoptees also want their loved ones to recognize their unique heritage, their great loss, and their need to know the blood that runs through their veins.

(even though all blood is red, but I digress)

Jubilee is incredibly aware for her age, and loves talking about her Chinese heritage. She is proud of the fact that she can wield chopsticks better than the rest of us, even though she didn’t learn this at the orphanage but picked it up at our table, just like that. She loves that she can memorize verses and facts like a computer (something that is very Chinese, by the way, if you’ve noticed your children having the same remarkable gift). She prefers indirect communication, and has a high need for physical contact. These traits, too, are prevalent among Chinese. Jubilee cannot wait until her Chinese language lessons can begin, and she begs me to read to her from our Chinese/English children’s books.

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And then there is my cousin, Abbey. Adopted as a baby from Korea, she grew up in a white, middle class Midwestern family, happy as a lark. Her favorite food as a kid was chicken spaghetti. She took dance lessons, cheered exuberantly for her brothers at their football games, sang country western music, etc. And yet, as an adult adoptee, she wears a shirt that reads, “Asian soul.” She joined the Asian Student Union while in college, and just went to her first KAAN conference (Korean American Adoptive Family Network) with her mother, my wonderful aunt. I think my sweet cousin would suggest that we as adoptive parents learn to read our children, pray for insight into their hearts, and take their cues as to how “Chinese” they want us to help them be(come).

I personally love Chinese culture.  I love eating the food, speaking the language, and making friends with the people.  I think it would be very sad to pretend – or wish – the Chinese heritage out of our kids. Of course, the fact that they are Chinese does not make them any less ours (or less American, Canadian, or whatever your nationality might be), but I say if they want to be connected with their roots, more power to ‘em. I propose that by denying who they were, we risk denying them – and ourselves – the pleasure of fully enjoying who they are.

 

 

Free to Dream

What a joyful noise it is when we hear our children tell us what they want to be when they grow up!

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It was only a few months to a few years ago when words like that would have been completely futile. There was no future and there were no dreams. Life was purely an existence. Each day was filled with managing their surrounding in an orphanage. Always trying to get enough food even if it meant taking others’ food away. Trying to navigate relationships and avoiding being the victim. Laughing at others before they laughed at you.

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An orphanage is no place for a child to live, to grow or to dream.

A child growing up in an orphanage does not get to pick “what they want to be” when they grow up. Anywhere between the ages of 14-18 they leave the orphanage and are on their own. Sometimes the orphanage will try to get them a job as they age out and leave the only life they have ever known. Many fall into the age-old career of prostitution and many commit suicide as they realize they have no other options.

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In China’s society there is no place for the orphan because they have no value. The individual is not important. All that matters is what the government decides is best for “all the people”. The orphan is the lowest of the low. They were not wanted by their family and they are not wanted by society. An orphan with any kind of a disability is of no value to anyone. They consider them a hindrance and bad luck.

On all of our trips to China we have met wonderfully kind people. People that want to love and care for the orphans. People that are trying to change China. People who believe that each individual has value. People that are learning about Jesus and learning about God’s love for everyone.

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I am thankful for the ray of hope that those people gave to our children in the orphanage. The smile, the hug, the food and whatever they could do to help the children in the orphanage.

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And now onto the best part of this post!

Their dreams, their desire and their hopes!

  • Sarah – Wants to be a preschool teacher, in the Olympics on the USA gymnastics team, a dentist, a swimming instructor and a mother. While she is still at home she would like to scoop ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s, work at the local grocery store, be a lifeguard and honestly her ideas never stop!! We LOVE it!!
  • Emma – A teacher and a Mommy.
  • Ellie – A missionary and a Mom.
  • Mia – “I dona know” (she needs more time at home to dream!).
  • Ava – A teacher, an artist, a doctor.
  • Melissa – We think she should be an artist but she answered “I don’t know”- again, she needs more time at home to DREAM!
  • Abby – Just wants to be a Mom.
  • Anna – A scientist, an artist.
  • Sam – A fireman, a scientist, a cowboy, a policeman and a farmer.
  • Madeline – “Ahhhh, no comment…” After awhile she decided she wanted to be a Momma. Then Hubby asked, “What about a Daddy?” To which she promptly responded “I notta boy!”
  • Luke – A fire truck, a policeman or a dog.

YEP! He really said that! It was so cute!! And it was that answer that prompted this post!

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I love their hopes and dreams! I feel blessed to be their Mom!

We are excited to watch their lives unfold right in front of us! We look forward to where God leads them!

I know He has a special plan for each child and whatever it is…
it’s a good one!

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Light Brown Hair :: Dark Brown Hair

I was putting Tess’s hair into pig tails, getting her ready for school and tying bows in her piggies.

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We live in a Caucasian community bombarded with messages about what beauty is, and in its absence what it is not, in every magazine, billboard, and television commercial. I figure I need to counter balance the mass messaging she already receives.
I finish
Every.
Single.
Morning.
of our primping-in-front-of-the-mirror-time the same way.

Tess, you’re gorgeous.
You’re beautiful.
Stunning.
Do you know how very pretty you are?

Today she has a reply.
Tess: I like your hair mama. It’s light brown.
Me: I like your hair, Tess. It’s a beautiful dark brown. And so are your pretty eyes.
Tess: But I like your hair. I wish my hair and my eyes were light brown like yours.
I know what she means. This is about looking like your mama and wanting to be closer.
Me: Tess, I think your first mama probably has gorgeous dark brown hair and eyes just like you. I think she is beautiful just like you!
We talk about their first mamas as if these women are another person in our family, just ones we haven’t met.
Tess: But I wish my hair was light brown like yours.
{maternal sigh}

Back to me.
My mom has auburn hair.
My birth mom has blond hair.
And my hair is brown.
I get what Tess is saying.
It’s taken me no less than 40 years to come to my own peace regarding moms and first moms and wanting something so badly that just can not be. And it breaks my heart to think she might struggle with who she is and who she does and does not look like. I want her to love herself in the here and now and feel how she is perfectly made and a perfectly shaped puzzle piece to our family puzzle. I don’t want her to continually reach after something that may never be attainable. And grieve the loss that could define her.
Says the lady that tries hard 4 decades later to not do just that.

Yet, I want to help her discover who she is and help her piece together her own identity if that’s what she wants.
It’s a balancing act that parents who adopt constantly walk.
Give them the information they crave, but only if or when they crave it. Attempt to satiate their curiosity, but not your own. Tell them their story but don’t let it define them. Help them figure out where they came from, and help them accept that they may never really know.

Back to hair.
Humor me; Let me do a mom thing and tell you how beautiful she is.
Tess has the most amazing hair. It’s dark brown with a slight wave. It’s not coarse or stereo-typically Asian hair, yet so shiny. Not to mention her eyes that are just-can’t-stop-gazing-into-them gorgeous. Her eyes are huge and so dark that one can’t really see her pupils amidst the very dark irises. This makes them appear huge. And again not really Asian looking. And her darker than normal skin tone. Which makes her appearance, although undeniably beautiful, not stereo-typically Asian. But an absolute beauty!
I know. I know. I’m biased of course! In fact she’s often mistaken as Mexican in our very Mexican community. Or Hispanic in general. Or even middle eastern. Or even Italian once.
And all of this makes us wonder if she’ll have trouble identifying herself with any culture at all.
And what we should do about it.

To be continued… Part II {Genetic analysis: to test or not to test}



Dealing With Grief

As pre-adoptive parents prepare to bring our children home, we go through hours upon hours of parent training. Not to mention meetings with our social worker, and any reading we may do on our own to help prepare for the day our new son or daughter joins their forever family.

One of the topics that gets talked about frequently is dealing with your child’s grief. Whether a child waits in a less-than-perfect situation, or is in a pretty ideal place, they forever leave their familiar life behind. Nannies and friends at the orphanage. Foster parents and foster siblings. Possibly even classmates in school. Not to mention the sights, smells, sounds, and cultural nuances that make up their birth country. Their entire world gets turned upside down, and as their new parents we need to know how to handle it when our child grieves for the life they lost.

But one thing that doesn’t get talked about very often is how an adoptive parent should respond when they find themselves grieving. Because…no matter how happy the adoptive parents may be or how much they love their new addition…when a new child enters the family oftentimes a part of their old life is “lost” for the adoptive family as well. Suddenly the home that made sense and ran like a well-oiled machine is thrown into chaos and confusion by things like a grieving child, orphanage behaviors, attachment struggles, processing disorders, medical needs, night terrors, or other children in the home regressing due to the addition of a new sibling. If an older child joins the family, then things like language barriers and cultural differences come into play. It can feel like the magic trick where a magician quickly pulls the tablecloth away…only you’re left wondering how and when the pieces will fall into place again.

The adoption process is such an emotionally draining experience. When we’re in the midst of it, we want it to move at least twice as fast as it’s currently moving. Every day counts and we can tell anyone who asks…and even some who don’t!…exactly how many seconds we’ve been waiting to move onto the next step. Getting our child home becomes almost an obsession, and we share that obsession with our friends and family pretty much daily for months on end. So, when we get home and find it’s not everything we hoped and dreamed of during the agonizing months of waiting for the next “A” to arrive…then what?

I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I do know that with our first adoption, I kept the less-than-perfect stuff hidden as much as I could…and that didn’t work. Spending all day pretending that things are perfect, then locking yourself in the bathroom after the kids go to bed and crying until you have no more tears left isn’t the way to go. However, with adoptions two and three I’ve learned that talking with my social worker and other adoptive parents is a panacea for the soul. Transparency with friends and family makes a world of difference. Leaving my child(ren) with a trusted person while sneaking away for a cup of coffee or a pedicure helps immensely. And going through counseling is great!!! Taking care of myself isn’t a reason to feel guilty. It’s a NEED. I’m human and have emotional needs, too. And to put it bluntly…if I’m not making sure my own emotional needs are being met, I’m not going to be able to meet the needs of my new child. But the thing I’ve found to work the best is to make peace with the fact that I’m not perfect, I don’t have it all together, and it’s okay if our family isn’t the poster family for adoption. It’s a lonely feeling to be in this place. But, I’ve also learned through my own experience that I am NOT alone in my struggles. Other adoptive parents go through them, too. These struggles come in different shapes and sizes, and they need to be dealt with in different ways. But they’re common.

Being an adoptive parent is hard work. And sometimes admitting our failures, having a cup of coffee with a friend, taking a trip to the spa, savoring a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, letting our tears fall into a bubble bath, or even meeting with someone in professional circles to help us is the work that needs to be done. But that’s okay. If you’re in that place, don’t feel guilty. Or alone. Because I’m right there with ya. The day will come when we’re not here anymore. Adoptions one and two taught me that. But for now, what’s important is that we deal with our struggles…whether it be grief or otherwise…the best way we know how.

And boy, do I wish we could take a spa day together…



Save the Drama for Your Mama

There is much written about the healthy display and expression of emotions, not just in adoption literature, but in education, psychology and parenting resources as well. “Use your words” is the bridge between a tantrum and a reasonable response. What happens though when your child cannot use her words yet? Even worse, what happens when the child has many words in her head but physically cannot say them? For starters, Mom is frustrated and helpless to communicate and daughter just gets plain mad.

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This is where we found ourselves almost from the beginning with Grace. Grace is inquisitive, clever and so very smart, yet she is recovering from two major surgeries. Two major surgeries with two major complications resulting from those surgeries. So, she is not only learning to use the new mechanisms of lips, nose and palate but she is doing so with extra scarring and tightness that is not the norm. Add to that this intense desire to communicate, especially when she is upset. Like most people I know, (especially her Mom) she has the need to be heard. Really heard and understood. Watching her tantrums escalate, and knowing behind those beautiful dark eyes that look like mine there was a desperation to be known and heard. Well, it broke my heart and made this mama sad.

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In my great need for my daughter to be heard, I collaborated with her amazing speech therapist on a plan to let her be heard. She devised some “emotion cards” (for lack of a better word) to assist in those stressful high intensity tantrums of grief or anger to allow Grace to “speak her mind” and heart. The trigger for the tantrum or grief could be anything from that unexplained pain that is in process of healing in her little spirit or that she wanted eight lollipops instead of one. Different triggers but same response. So, the cards give a picture of an emotion, a word to go along with it and the very best part, CHOICE. Grace gets to choose how she feels and I hear her.

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Imagine my surprise when these little cards halted the train wreck of fit and frustration. Literally stopped the crying or screaming or yelling on a dime as Grace picked her card as if we were playing Go Fish. Once her card was picked, I would ask if she felt like the person represented and she would nod and repeat the word shaking her head and off she would go triumphantly to play. Off she would go with cards in hand because these things have some power!! I have had several friends request a set for their spouses. “Honey, just pick the card to let me know how you feel…we don’t have to talk, just pick the card dear.” I may set up an Etsy shop. These things are golden. So surprising what transpires when our hearts are heard.

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The icing on the cake is happening now. When Grace brings me a book and shows me with her determined pointer finger and ever increasing articulated speech a person with an emotion that she knows. She knows the word; she knows the emotion, how it feels and what it looks like. Even more fun is the chance to act those emotions out! To be “mad” in the mirror and “surprised” on the Iphone camera and to even dramatize “sad” to her siblings in play is just plain great! Really great for those scarred lips to pucker and pout too! She gets it and she owns it and she is gaining control when most things seemed far out of her control in this season of all of things new. We are communicating with new words and definitions yes; but we are communicating on a much deeper level. I can meet her where she is and offer a way out. A safer and better way for her to experience true emotions that run deep, but to be heard. Really heard.

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And that makes us both really happy.



Remembering

My mind has been doing the very same thing this week that it did three years ago. In 2010, our son, Joel {aka The Thai Tornado}, would be celebrating his first year home in the coming days and I couldn’t get the images, the smells and the memories out of my head. They came flooding back with the entry of September.

And in like fashion, Gabe {aka our Little Prince} was a “September baby” for us. And so those same experiences, in a different land, are replaying in my head like a classic movie. One that you want to watch over and over at first and then you kinda forget about for a while. Until something triggers it again. Then you can’t get enough of it for a time.

I’m stuck on that movie this week. That movie of Gabe and us becoming family. The movie that will never win any awards but is an Oscar contender in my life. Not because it’s worthy of any accolades whatsoever. Those belong only to God. But because it holds the images, the sounds and the experiences that are burned into my memory.

So I’m pondering and reliving our lives from this time last year. How on this night {I’m writing this on Sunday because I’m a terrible NHBO contributor and my post is due TODAY!}, how on this night, the Sunday before Labor Day, we were meeting our Gabe. It was actually Monday morning, of course, in China. How I was so glad that our kids back home could wait up late into the night to meet their brother via FaceTime because with the holiday, there would be no school the next morning. And how Jase and I had been awake in the middle of the night {Sunday afternoon here} singing “Happy Birthday” to Joel through heavy tears via Skype.

A year ago.

An entire year with our Little Prince.

So much grace. So much love and complete joy in grafting him in.

For months, this video made me so happy…happy that Gabe didn’t cry and wail when we took him. Happy that he quietly came to us without a fight. Now, a year later, it makes me a bit sad. He was scared to death. BRAVE. But terrified at first of course.

Yet God in His grace made a way for Gabe. Unworthy as we are, He made a way through Jase and I. And I know without question, there are many of you whom He would use in the very same way.

Take a leap of faith, y’all. Dare to see the orphan as God does. Risk fear and heartache and financial strain and difficult days. Trade them in for all that stands to be gained…the love and joy of a forever family. The sound of your child whispering your name in the middle of the night.

Because in the whole of it, He makes beautiful things.



Big girl

My feisty three-year-old was still in a crib up until a few weeks ago. I know that’s a little on the older side, but it was easier to stick with a crib because she didn’t try to get out. We didn’t switch Angel to a toddler bed until she climbed out at 2 1/2 years, and Lovebug was forced out at three years when we needed the crib for Sunshine. So I didn’t see any reason to move Sunshine out too soon. A crib is much easier in many ways, or so I thought.

But with a beach trip coming up, and her being too long for a pack ‘n play, we decided to give a toddler bed a try. I would have preferred to leave her in the crib a wee bit longer, but this seemed like a good time to experiment with a toddler bed. When Sunshine caught the first glimpse of her new sleeping arrangements, her face lit up! She was very proud of her new big girl bed. She happily climbed in as we read a goodnight story and prayed together. She was so protective of her newfound big girliness that she wouldn’t even let me lay my head on her pillow with her. She said, “No mommy, you too big. You need sleep in your bed. Dis my bed.” Well ok then, point taken.

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I was concerned that the freedom of a toddler bed would give her the ok to come out of her room throughout the night. So I did what any self-respecting mama would do … I bribed her with a cookie in the morning if she stayed in bed all night. Doesn’t everyone do that? :) But as I closed her door, I was convinced we’d be up all night anyway. I held my breath listening for bumps and movements. But wouldn’t you know, there were no sounds. No kicking. No whispering. No playing. No rolling around in the bed like she had been doing every night for the past six months.

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Almost a month has passed since we moved her to the toddler bed. She goes right to sleep every night, and has yet to fall out despite her interesting sleep positions. She never gets out of bed. This is a stark contrast compared to the shenanigans of the six months prior. I thought she was going through another sleep phase. She’s been through many of them since we brought her home two years ago. Too many to count. But the kicking, whispering, playing, and rolling around had been going on for a long time, and she was missing hours of sleep every night. Then she’d take shorter naps as well because she was overtired, creating a sleepless cycle. You get the picture.

I’m not sure why her behavior changed so drastically after switching beds. I could come up with multiple reasons, none of which may be correct, or all of which may be partially correct. Or, maybe she was simply trying to tell us she was ready for a big girl bed? Either way, the results have been wonderful and I am kicking myself for not moving her sooner. I don’t even need to bribe her with a cookie anymore before bedtime!

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Disclosure Within Reason {Adoption and Back to School}

There are backpacks lined up in my dining room today. When backpacks are hanging on chair backs with zippers bulging with supplies and tissue boxes, even they look excited about a new year.

Lydia doesn’t start kindergarten until next year. But, she’s joining me two mornings a week at a women’s Bible study. And, based on our experience last year, I’m wondering how proactive I should be this fall with the new set of ladies about to experience our daughter in a classroom setting.

With children who were adopted but are the same shade as you, you have the option of sharing nothing adoption related with teachers. Those of my friends who choose this option tell me it’s better that way—teachers can have stereotypes and let their knowledge of the child being adopted affect how they view and treat the child or there’s no need to stand out and it’s private and none of their business anyway.

When we walk in that classroom for the first time (putting aside the way Lydia bounces into a room), we do pretty much stand out. One look at her + one look at me = adoption and whatever preconceptions or feelings may come with that.

I’ve decided to take the route of what I call disclosure within reason. Lydia always will deal with questions regarding race and adoption and her story. A teacher who knows nothing except that Lydia doesn’t look like the lady she calls Mom (aka me) will be less prepared to handle those situations the way I’d want him or her to handle them.

Disclosure within reason means sharing:

  • that Lydia was born in China,
  • that she was adopted as a toddler, and
  • that we do not know or have a relationship with her birth family.

Disclosure within reason does not mean sharing:

  • what we know about her finding,
  • what her life may or may not have been before we brought her home, or
  • how she or we feel about the information we have or don’t have about her history and/or birth family.

Disclosure within reason may include a few words about adoption in general or China in general. But, that’s it. As tempting as it may be to share more about how God built our family, I’m going to guard my words and in so doing guard her heart. After all, her story is not mine to tell. And, I’m going to teach her to guard it well. There’s plenty of time to talk more about the practicals, patterns of behavior and responses and strategies and all the whys behind them. And, based on all we’ve been seeing around here lately [insert sigh here], we may have to have that conversation sooner rather than later. But, for now, disclosure within reason, that’s it, shared casually and comfortably along with all the other important information that needs to be shared (e.g., said daughter loves goldfish and jumping from high places).

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