Post 2 of my blog I thought it might be necessary to address the burning question of why we would decide to adopt a baby from Africa.
I was born in Blytheville, Arkansas. There is nothing diverse or beautiful about it. Nothing about this beginning can account for where we are now. Black folks stay on their side of town and white folks on their side. Sunday morning church services are every bit as segregated. Though recently my mother has told me there is a "mixed couple" at church, I am convinced my hometown remains one of the most segregated places in the South.
I left when I was 19 years old. It was not something I planned on doing. I was running from an ugly episode in my life and ran right into the United States Air Force. My first assignment was smack in the middle of America in Omaha, Nebraska. I was fairly shocked to discover that the world looked a bit different than the little corner I had occupied. People of different backgrounds were thrown together to work and play. We had different skin colors and different ideas, but we relied on each other. We were all mostly young and away from home. For the first time in my life all my friends did not look like me. I left the Air Force after 8 1/2 years, but those years changed the way I look at the world.
I met and married the man of my dreams. Before he knew I was the woman of his dreams he was married to another woman. She is black and they have two children. Because of an appendix that ruptured when I was just sixteen, I was unable to conceive children. We knew we wanted children and decided adoption was a very likely choice for us, but chose to attempt fertility treatments. To our delight I became pregnant with twin boys. Our boys were born and they immediately filled our home with light and laughter and long sleepless nights! It was a whirlwind and I would not trade even one second, but we could not imagine another baby just yet.
When our boys were 4 1/2 years old we moved from Cordova, TN here to Roswell, GA. A few years later I began to long for another child. I researched fertility clinics and almost made an appointment. We talked about the grueling treatments, mood swings and the emotional turmoil it was sure to cause our family. Then we returned to our original idea of adoption. I did a little research, but we abandoned the idea for a few years. For some reason the time was not right.
Life remained busy and we settled into the community and our church. Then our closest friends adopted a baby from Memphis. He is a beautiful baby boy, and he already has an amazing testimony about God's love and protection. I absolutely fell in love with this little one and watched him bond with his family. I began to think that the time might be right:-)
Again we researched agencies. We had always talked about international adoption and began to examine the different countries. It was easy to eliminate some countries and harder to eliminate others. I interviewed several agencies and one case worker bluntly asked me if I was opposed to adopting a child from Africa. "Africa", I said. "Why are you asking me this"? She went on to tell me based on all the questions I was asking she thought we should consider adopting from Ethiopia. Her agency did not have an Ethiopian program so she e-mailed me some websites and encouraged me to call her back with questions.
I mulled this over. I thought about all the reasons why we should not adopt from Africa. I could not come up with a single one. We live in an extremely diverse city. Our little church is integrated with people from all over the world. In our kids' classroom at school they are not the sizable majority. We have just spent a year watching our closest friends and their miracle unfold in great big living color. Funny how all along God has a plan for you and you very slowly realize it:-)
Our boys were so excited it was like the final confirmation. I asked them point blank, "What if we decide to adopt a baby like C, and our family is different kind of like the Bs?" (code (not good code) to protect my dear friend's privacy.)
They gave us blank stares before asking us, "What do you mean...different?"
So very delicately I said, "Have you guys noticed that C is black?"
"Oh", they said, "we did not know what you meant by different. He's just C--loud and strong. Can we have a girl, and do we have to buy her barbies? K and A have barbies, but barbies are boring!"
I guess I expected a philosophical discussion and I am still not even sure they know C is black and the rest of the family is white. Somehow that little news flash escaped them. I mean, of course they know he is black. But, to them it is not significant enough to warrant the word "different". According to their world view it is just normal that we would be all mixed up and C is merely a wonderful part of a family we dearly love. Why would adopting a baby that looks just like C be a problem for ANYBODY they wondered out loud.
In that instant equal emotions of pride and shame washed over me. Hadn't we spent nine years telling them that all of us are the same at the foot of the cross? Hadn't we very deliberately made serious life choices to live and work and play and worship in situations where everyone does not look the same? They responded exactly as we had taught them! Needless to say the decision was made, and I am ashamed of myself for thinking it was necessary to pose the question.
Today, we are just weeks away from bringing our Abigail home (pray, pray, pray). She will be loved and nurtured and cherished by her mom and dad and the most amazing big brothers a little girl could ask for. Our lives will never be the same. Not because she is black and we are white. Because love always changes people. I know we will have challenges, and there are those that would not make the choices we are making. They have not walked in our shoes and we have not walked in their shoes. I am not passing judgement. It is a very personal choice to adopt no matter the circumstances. For us, the color of Abigail's skin is simply not significant.
There will be stares and whispers. I don't care. God has our back and we will be busy living an amazing journey crafted by His own hand!
Court date is set for June 1 and if we are approved Abigail could be home by the end of June:-)