Disclaimer: We are not adoption professionals.
We are adoptive parents hoping to help other adoptive parents.

Monday, September 20, 2010

No Hope

It was 11:00 last night. Everyone in my house was in bed - except for me. It was my wind-down time. Time to collapse on the couch and watch some mindless TV before bed.

I flipped through my favorite channels and landed on Food Network. It was Cupcake Wars. I thought I'd watch for just a few minutes. If you have watched this show before, you know that there are 3 rounds. The first and second round the bakers are judged on taste and appearance. Each round, one baker is omitted. The last round is different. They have to bake 1000 cupcakes in 2 hours. Then they present them on a display they have each created.

Every episode, there is a guest judge. That judge represents the organization for whom the cupcakes will eventually be displayed - and eaten.

Last night's guest judge caught my attention. I still don't know what charity she was representing, but it was an organization for kids. She had some artwork that the kids had created that the bakers were to use as inspiration.

My promised few minutes turned into an hour's worth of the show...

In that final round, the evenutal winner used her own 6-year-old-daughter's artwork in the cupcake display. There were butterflies, rainbows, and flowers. Words like hope, dream, and love were on the art too.

The guest judge was in tears. She said, "You got it. Perfectly. The kids I work with don't have any hope."

I was then in tears too. On the couch at midnight, all by myself. Watching Food Network and crying my head off.

No hope.

Kids have who have no hope.

I felt like my heart had fallen out of my chest.

Kids who have no hope sounds like an oxymoron of a sentence. Kids should be running and playing and getting their boo-boos kissed. Not having no hope. Kids should be cuddled and treasured and spoiled just every once in awhile. Not having no hope.

I was taken back almost 5 years ago. We were in a Russian orphanage adopting our son. Of course the children there spoke no English - but we heard, "Mama! Papa!" over and over from the children.

Heartbreaking. Kids who have no hope.

Then I thought about how I had spent my evening. On a computer. Specifically on adoptuskids.org.

Heartbreaking. Kids who have no hope.

Except maybe a glimmer. In both cases - in the Russian orphanage and on the website, there is a glimmer of hope. A shout out to a mama, to a papa. To someone. Anyone. Please.

I am not an adoptive mother because I want to save the world. I am an adoptive mother because I wanted a family. We adopted for selfish reasons. We were not thinking of the hope we were giving our children when we adopted them. We were thinking of the love we had and wanted to share with children. We were thinking of the desire we had to become a family.

But now, I do think of all the children who don't have families. The children who are begging for one - and yet night after night, they go to bed without one. I think about what it must feel like to have lost all hope.

It's devastating.

It doesn't matter if those children are in a foreign orphanage or a foster home right here in America. They have no hope.

I am at a loss. I can't give hope to every child without a family. My husband and I can adopt again, sure. We actually hope to adopt again and again! But we are just one couple who can only adopt so many kids....

But what about the rest? What about the thousands and thousands of children who have no hope?

My heart aches for all of them. They deserve a chance to have that hope.

After all, they're just kids.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Changing Culture One Family at a Time

My Dad is 70 years old. He grew up in a small town in Kansas in which he saw separate drinking fountains and designated bathrooms for white people and black people . My dad saw signs that said “Colored Enter in the Back”. My dad heard dozens of politically correct and downright hate-filled terms to define a people group in his lifetime. My mom had similar experiences. The generation of my parents closely watched the black and white televisions report the story of historically monumental leaps in the civil rights movement. I’m guessing the opinions did not vary much of that generation who watched this happen.

But now 70 years later, my dad and my mom will be grandparents to an African child. We will soon adopt a child from Ethiopia. They are receiving this child with open arms. Not without concern (as they should as parents), but in love and courage and faith.

We are slowly progressing forward even more in bridging the gaps between races. I believe that transracial adoption, while not overwhelming in the percentage of families who adopt outside of their race, it is extremely impactful in the lives of a family and community. It requires the races to hit head on with the heart and mind. I believe God will use the transracial family to require amazing love in and for all people. It is the impact of the family in which God will change a culture.

Jesus never tried to change society or government systems. In fact, he actually had an approach that we would characterize as very passive towards political and societal systems. What Jesus did focus on is the change in the individual, in the family. This is where the catalyst begins. Change the individual first and then the culture will follow.

This is what transracial adoption does for culture. It starts with the individuals, the families. My white sons will have a black sister. We will raise these children knowing both the traditions of our families before us. We will raise them with Russian traditions and we will raise them with Ethiopian traditions and with those mixed up European traditions. My sons will know what African hair feels like, they will eat injera, and they will know African history. They will know the culture of African-Americans like I never did. My daughter will sip tea, celebrate Father Frost and know what a Russian “samovar” is.

There will be a personal knowledge of the races between my children that I never knew.

And those around us will see how our children interact. Their children will watch and be a part of the changing cultural as they become familiar with different traditions and ways. But it is not familiarity of traditions that cause someone to change their perspective. What will change perspective is when they befriend and love the people who celebrate those different traditions.

Transracial adoption is the beginnings of a changing community, a changing culture. It is really remarkable to get to be a catalyst to a changing world. I count it a great blessing.
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