May 1, 2013 Kam 8 Comments

So that is the question I hear out of our Thai Tornado’s mouth incessantly.


I can’t remember when our girls went through this stage. It seems they were much younger. Joel will be seven in four months. He seems old to me…but maybe I’m just old and can’t remember. Yeah, that’s more plausible.

Why does it lightning when it rains sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t?
Why do I have to do reading today?
Why are we having that for dinner?
Why is dad at church so late tonight?
Why can’t I watch TV?

And on and on they go.

He’s not being rude when he asks. Even about the dinner thing. It’s just where he is right now. He’s all about the why.

And y’all, some of these “whys”, I have no answer for. Or at best, an incomplete one.

Why do I have black hair but Kennedy and Sydney have blonde?

Why is my skin dark and your skin is white?

Why doesn’t daddy have brown eyes instead of blue?

Sure, I can tell him that he was born in Asia and we were not and so our hair and our skin and our eyes don’t look like an Asian person’s would. And that’s the truth. But is it enough?

As I’ve posted here before, he’s learning to read this year in Kindergarten. Homeschooling this 6 year old has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted. But so rewarding as we come into May and see how far he’s come.

Just the other night, he was holding his favorite stuffed animal, a black cat {weird, but true} and as I tucked him into bed and walked away, I heard him say…

“Black cat, black cat what do you see? I see a brown Joel looking at me.”

And it stopped me dead in my tracks. And made my knees falter a little. Because these questions that he consistently asks me, are swirling around in his mind even at bedtime. When he puts head to pillow, even then and after nearly four years together, he is thinking about the differences between us.

Why did you come get me?

Why don’t I live in Thailand anymore?

Why am I YOUR son now?

Again, we have answers. Insufficient ones to a degree.

Because we loved you. Because we desperately wanted you. Because in God’s sovereign plan, you are one of us. And because your first mom made a heart wrenching and selfless decision.

In Thailand, by and large, children who are abandoned are not eligible for international adoption. The vast majority of orphans in that beautiful country will languish in an orphanage, without the hope of a family, until they age out as teenagers. So children, if they are to have the greatest chance of being adopted, must be relinquished rather than abandoned.

That was the case for our beautiful boy. We have the papers his first mom signed. We know the reasons for her choice. We are beyond grateful for her maturity in the face of unfathomable circumstances.

Yet, I ask again. Is this enough of an answer?

I try every month when I’m given this tiny voice at NHBO, to speak to special needs or to stretch our thinking or to encourage us all to be the hands and feet of God where the orphan is concerned. I may be failing this month because I just keep coming back to this. That special needs or healthy, abandoned or relinquished, international or domestic…there will be why questions.

And at best, our answers will be incomplete ones.

Joel is here to be our first son.

The end of five-7440 copy

He is here to be a big brother for our little prince, Gabe, from China.

Siblings-8563 copy

And just recently, it seems he is here to begin to realize his own sinfulness in light of God’s perfection and to wrestle with some pretty weighty questions about salvation and the Gospel. The Gospel that he himself asked the other day if he would have ever learned about in Thailand.

spring break-5454 copy

And though these are all good and great things, is it enough? Will it be enough for him when he’s older? Will these things satisfy the “why” questions that he has?

Only God knows the answer to that. I rest in the sovereignty of Jesus. Our sons are our sons because before the foundation of the earth, God ordained it to be. Did God cause their plight? I don’t believe so. Sin, as is always the case, is the root for pain and suffering and hardship and death. So no, He didn’t cause it.

But He ordained it.

I don’t know how to reconcile those two things. I don’t seek to do so anymore.

Rather than dwell on what I don’t know, I lean into what I do know.

Namely, that Jesus is infinitely good. That our sons needed parents and siblings and grandparents and aunts and uncles. That we needed them. To open our eyes to the Gospel of Adoption, to have a smidgeon of a bird’s eye view into the heart of God and the grafting in of us into His family.

I know of families who avoid these questions and more aptly, avoid answering them. I don’t agree with them…but I affirm their right to raise their children in the manner they deem best. I don’t ever want to be guilty of “filling in the gaps” of our sons’ beginnings with things that aren’t there. I don’t want to lead them to see or believe something that may or may not be true as far as their stories go. And I surely don’t want to be flippant about them either.

But I do want to embrace the questions. I whole heartedly want to embrace the dark skin and black hair and brown eyes questions. Not to make less of them or to elevate them. Only to help him see that he is made fearfully and wonderfully made and that those very things that are different about him, are some of our favorite things about who he is. Along with his tender heart and his unbelievably quick sense of humor and his tenacious spirit.

That for some reason we may not fully know on this side, there is a means to the ends.

The whys are swirling around at our house these days.

And really, that’s just fine.

8 responses to “why?”

  1. Stefanie says:

    Beautifully said, Kam. Sometimes it’s okay to not have all the answers – especially when we can trust in the One who does have them all 🙂

  2. Laura says:

    I love this post! We haven’t had the privilege of being faced with these questions yet (still in the adoption process) but we have been asked by others about how we will answer the “why”s. We admit that we don’t have all (or even many) of the answers but are so thankful for a God who has them all and will one day reveal his reconciliation of all things! Thank you for your wisdom, sister!

  3. Sophelia says:

    You are teaching your adopted child that he is inherently flawed and sinful? Seriously?

    • Kam says:

      Hi Sophelia, I’m Kam and I wanted to drop you a line in regards to your comment on my post here. Let me begin by saying thank you for reading. NHBO is a labor of love for many, especially Stefanie, our fearless leader. It takes an enormous amount of work on her part to maintain it and her desire to come alongside and encourage those considering special needs adoption is matchless. She is a gem and I am grateful for all she does with NHBO.

      I can’t be sure, but I would venture to guess that you and I come from vastly different backgrounds and world views. Which is a-okay! The world is not made up of cookie cutter people and so our differences, while probably many, serve to spice things up…especially in the blogosphere. It’d be boring if we were all exactly the same.

      Not that I feel the need to defend myself or our family’s conviction on how we raise our children, but I wanted to offer an explanation to you in hopes that you might understand where we are coming from. Whether you agree or disagree is of no matter to me personally. That is your business and yours alone. Still, it seemed by the tone of your comment that you were upset to a degree and that is not my intention in writing for NHBO.

      My intention is always to cause us to think critically, to consider things that we may not have before, to encourage those who are in the trenches of a special needs adoption and so on. It is never my intention to upset anyone. But in full disclosure, I can’t separate who I am with how I write…or what I teach my children. This was my greatest concern when accepting Stefanie’s invitation 18 months ago to become a monthly contributing author at NHBO. I shared that concern with her and she took me on anyway! ha. Seriously though, I write as my convictions lead me to.

      We teach our children that God is holy. That He is perfect and sinless and that we are emphatically not. My husband and I have been born anew by grace and when that happens, the outflow of that is to teach your children about this great God. We live our lives by the Scriptures taught in the Bible. Scriptures which throughout, are very clear that man is born with a sin nature and is personally at enmity with God. That he is worthy of consequence for his sin and that apart from Jesus Christ, there is no hope in the life to come. So yes, our children are fully aware that they are sinful. Heck, they are fully aware that their dad and I are sinful. And they are also completely aware that God is perfect.

      But that is only part of what they are taught. We would be remiss if we pointed out their sinfulness and offered no solution or grace to overcome it. Rather, we teach our children the Word of God in its entirety. So please know that we aren’t beating our kids down with how bad they are all the while offering them no answer for their sinfulness. They also know that His plans for them are infinitely perfect and that they are treasured and wanted and loved beyond measure.

      I’m not sure what your views lead you to believe. But if you struggle to embrace the fact that all men are sinful from birth, consider children you may know. I’m not sure if you are a parent or not but I’d venture to say you’ve experienced this…children are not taught to be sinful. We never taught our children to be selfish, or to lie or to take something that didn’t belong to them or to be disrespectful, etc. They are born ready to do those things because they have a sin nature. A one year old manifests a sin nature, just spend time with one and you will see it firsthand. It’s innate.

      I hope this clarifies some things for you. If you’d like to discuss it further, I’m always happy and willing to do that. You’re not the first person to disagree with something I’ve written or with what we believe the Bible teaches…you certainly won’t be the last. But I’d love to keep the communication open if you would like. And I hope you will continue to visit NHBO.

      For His fame~

      PS Here are only a few Scripture references that I neglected to include that further help to explain our convictions.
      Psalm 51:5; Psalm 14:2-3; Proverbs 22:15; Job 15:14-16; Jeremiah 17:9; Genesis 8:21; Ephesians 2:1-3;

      • Sophelia says:

        Hi Kam, Thank you for taking the time to pen such a long reply. I understand your beliefs regarding original sin and in usual circumstances I would not feel the need to comment on or question your sharing them with your child. My concern, however, is that you have an internationally adopted child who is likely to have grief and loss issues, as well as many questions about his birth parents. Using terms like sin, or indeed placing any blame at all on anyone is not helpful and could be damaging for your child. Your son needs to know that he is loved by you and was loved by his birth parents no matter what, and that the reason he was adopted was not due to any wrong doing on his part but because his birth parents were unable to care for him. *Whatever* the full reason is, even just the hint of it being to do with the child’s sinful nature is potentially harmful. You may think that you are doing the ultimate good by sharing your universal truths and theology, but surely you must see the need to consider the wider emotional picture for your adoptive child? To be clear, I am not suggesting that you rethink your theology, I am suggesting that you rethink the need to discuss this specific concept with such a young child. At six, how about telling him that God loves us so he forgives us as long as we ask him to? Tell him that he is precious to God and precious to you. When he has the emotional and intellectual capacity for more difficult concepts, by all means introduce him to your beliefs about original sin. But when an adopted child asks why he isn’t being raised by his birth family, it is a loaded question: “Is something wrong with me? Would they have kept me if I were better, more loveable?” If in that context you talk about him being inherently, from the moment of his birth before he drew his first breath, being wrong, sinful, corrupt… you are harming him deeply. You have also introduced to him the idea that his birth family will be going to hell (think for five minutes about the consequences of his question “would I have heard the gospel in Thailand?”). Now he can look forward to survivor’s guilt as well as a lack of self worth. So yes, I was very upset by your post, but not because of a theological difference. I was upset because I want to take the precious, miraculous gift of a child you have been blessed with, look deep into his eyes and tell him that he is perfect and that he is loved unconditionally. And I want that to be true in his life.

        • Kam says:

          Sophelia, thank you for your reply. I in no way want to get into an argument with you. My goal is just to clarify some things you’ve accused us of in hopes that you will see things differently. But if not, maybe you can respect our conviction to raise our children, all of them, in the way we feel led.

          I am completely aware of the grief and loss issues that IA children have…to the extent that I can understand them since I myself was not adopted. I never said that we are actively teaching Joel that he is sinful. {Though I do believe it is necessary to do so when children can grasp it}. I said that he is realizing his own sinfulness in light of Jesus’ perfection. Semantics? Maybe. But we let our children, and more appropriately, the Holy Spirit to take the lead in these matters. Like all of our children, Joel is corrected when he is wrong. He faces consequences when he is disobedient. Our goal is to model a life before him that points him to Christ. And ultimately, what he does or doesn’t do with that, is between he and God.

          I disagree that we are damaging our son. He is an adored, doted over and completely loved little boy. We would say the opposite that you spoke of…to NOT address these questions is more damaging. Because adopted or not, all people are sinful. All people will give an account. Is Joel old enough or mature enough to grasp everything that we teach our children? Of course not. Does that mean we don’t teach? No. We model the Gospel, we teach our children the Word of God and we trust Him with the results. Just because Joel has begun to question his own sinfulness has no bearing on how we feel or his first parents felt about him. We know his story, we are privvy to his beginnings. You are not. And you have no idea how we speak of his first mom nor how much of those details we have told him. I assure you, she is treasured as a blessing in our family. We most certainly do modify our parenting in some areas for our sons because they came to our family through adoption whereas our daughters did by birth. But this, the teaching of our children, is and must be the same across the board. Because they are people. And people need to know the Truth that is taught in the Scriptures. It’s what sets them free. So we will not compromise in this area.

          Yes, the question of “why” is a loaded one. And as I said, we have answers…detailed ones. I’m not sure they will ever be sufficient. That was my point with the post. That these questions may and likely will go on for a lifetime. He emphatically knows that it wasn’t anything he did to cause it…because we know why he came to us. He was relinquished, not abandoned. There’s a difference. We have done everything in our power to enable him to find her when he is older…should he choose to. And I’m sorry, as I was, as you were and the whole lot of humanity was, we were sinful from birth. If I were to say that HE was sinful and not teach him or point out that we ALL were sinful, then your argument would have validity. As it is now, I don’t believe it does.

          I have not introduced him to the idea that his birth family is going to hell. He doesn’t even understand what hell is yet. You have made a huge and unfair jump, not to mention an incorrect one. He came to the realization about Thailand on his own. He wanted to know if they worship Jesus there. I told him some did, many do not. Again, we tell our children the truth. But that God has His people all over the world and that He is not the American God. He is THE God. Some people worship him, but many/most do not. That is true of Thailand, and China {our second son is from China} and true of America.

          To be honest, I’m not so concerned about my children’s self worth or self esteem. I’m sorry, but self worth is of no eternal value at all. My hope for my children is that they would think less of themselves and more of others. That they would a high view of God and a low view of man. Because that’s what the Bible teaches we should have. The world doesn’t need more people who are think highly of themselves…it needs more people willing to die to themselves and follow hard after God and love the orphan and take the Good News to the uttermost parts of the earth. Self esteem? It’s just not my goal. {I posted about these thoughts in more detail here if you’d care to try and understand our position more…http://www.faithfamilyadoption.com/2010/04/great-disservice.html}

          I’m really sorry that you want “to take our precious, miraculous gift of a child and look deep into his eyes and tell him that he is loved unconditionally.” Because you’d have to wait a lifetime in a very long line behind his family. The leaps of judgement you have made and the sarcasm of “wanting it to be true in his life” are very condescending. Still, I welcome your thoughts and appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns. I assure you though, they are completely unfounded.

          In His service and yours~

  4. Kam says:

    Thanks so much, friends. He is indeed trustworthy! Laura, hope your process goes perfectly smooth…and speedy quick!

  5. Stefanie says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughtful replies here on the blog, Kam. And I appreciate Sophielia’s honesty in her questions and replies, as well.
    Indeed, your sweet Thai Tornado is one VERY loved little boy 🙂

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