13. A Different Style of Family

I remember several years ago I went to a burger joint with Matt, who was at this time my fiancé, along with a couple I lived with the six months leading up to our wedding. The couple had two daughters, one who was adopted from China, and one who was adopted from Ethiopia. The child from Ethiopia, who was two years old at the time, asked for me to pick her up and hold her while her parents went to pay for dinner. I picked her up and was bouncing her up and down, smiling with her, all the while standing next to Matt who tickled her every time we leaned close, when I realized several strange facial expressions around the room. Matt followed my gaze and noticed the same thing. Simply put, not seeing a black couple in the room led them to believe we were a very young family, but the color spectrum wasn’t adding up. The looks I received were more judgmental, while Matt’s were a combination of “Good for you,” or “You have to know she’s not yours, right?” This was our first insight into one of the many perceptions of a multiracial family.

We were not put off by these reactions, but we were certainly jarred by them. During one of our many parenting classes we were told that this would be a common occurrence for us as the parents of a Korean child. And while this does not intimidate us, it is concerning that Desi may be affected by the questioning looks or the intrusive questions. To help protect Desi, it was recommended that whenever questions or comments isolate him from the rest of his family, whether that is the intention or not, we should be careful to respond in a way that unites the family and targets ourselves, his parents, instead. For example, if a clerk at the grocery store sees Desi in my baby carrier and asks if he was adopted, I would respond with a statement that pulls him back to me, such as, “We are an adoptive family, yes.” But even if we work hard to correct and educate others on semantics, the reality is that Desi will already be fully aware that he does look different, and that our family does not look like a traditional family. While this is something we can celebrate, oftentimes the last thing a child wishes to feel, especially when he feels most vulnerable, is different.

Not all of us are on our way to becoming a multiracial or multicultural family, but many of us are. As the soon-to-be parents, this is something we signed up for, but our kids may from time to time feel like the target of scrutiny from people who are not familiar with adoptive families. As we do our best to bolster their self-esteem and identities as our children, we should celebrate that the different cultures and heritages represented in our families present a glimpse into the incredible image the disciple John provides us of Heaven. Revelation 7:9-10 describes,

A vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”

Doesn’t that give you chills? Yes, we may be judged or questioned during our time here on earth for the differences in our skin, race, and heritage, but one day we will all be united, standing before the throne of God, with a huge roar declaring, “Holy are you God!” Nothing else will matter.

The family of God puts the United Nations to shame with the amount of diversity he welcomes to the table. And I praise him for this, because I get the take part in a tiny glimpse of this experience during my time here on earth. Desi may be tanner than I am, and my curls may forever envy his thick, straight hair, but we are children of God all the same, and nothing can take that joy away from us.

 

Verses to Consider:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God –JOHN 1:12

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. –EPHESIANS 2:19-22

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. –PHILIPPIANS 3:20

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. -DEUTERONOMY 6:5-7

 

A Prayer for Your Day:

God, I can’t imagine what it will be like when we reach your kingdom and see all of your people, however different, so focused on how magnificent you are that we can no longer see our differences amongst each other. Our citizenship is in heaven, not of this earth (Phil 3:20), and so we must be prepared to love and be ridiculed by those who do not have the same heart for your people as you do. Sometimes we are called to endure suffering as we complete the work you call us to (2 Tim. 4:5). It doesn’t matter that [child’s name] doesn’t share my blood type, my skin color, or my heritage—[he/she] is still my child, just as these things do not keep me from being your child (John 1:12-13). Help me to be able to communicate this truth clearly and consistently to [child’s name] as often as [he/she] needs to hear it. I praise you because my family was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Thank you for bringing my family together.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen.

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4 Comments

  1. Tom Bickel

    Greetings from a family of 2 biological (22 and 18), one adopted (3), and one trying to be adopted (7mo). We are the Bickels and we live in Japan. Praise Jesus for His adopting us into His family.

    1. adoherty0519

      Hello! I was curious about who my readers from Japan might be. That is so exciting! Are you residents of Japan or are you staying specifically for the adoption? I’d love to hear more about your family’s story!

      1. Tom & Sumiyo Bickel

        We are long-term residents of Japan. We run a small English conversation school over here. About five years ago, on the day of the big earthquake and tsunami, we asked God what we could do to help. We clearly felt He wanted us to adopt. So we did the paperwork, and two years to the day of the earthquake, we welcomed into our house a 5-week-old girl abandoned at birth. We didn’t receive a child from the Tohoku region (area of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown), but God’s plans are supreme. Giovanna is now 3.5 and the apple of my eye. Tom from Japan

        1. adoherty0519

          What an incredible testimony! And what a beautiful name, Giovanna. I remember that earthquake quite well, I’m so impressed with your family’s willingness to pick up and go! It sounds like God had some big plans for you there. God bless you guys!

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