Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So Whose Kid Is This Anyway?

We have been dealing with a lot around here lately. Our orphan ministry has exploded which is a total blessing but it also means that we have an event almost every week for the next several months. We are in full promotion mode right now for our city-wide, multi-church event for Orphan Sunday. The Lord has opened so many doors for us and brought so many wonderful people to join our efforts to get orphans on the radar of Christians in our community. We now have adoptive parents representing Russia, China, Ethiopia and Honduras working on our leadership team as well as some amazing families that are praying about adopting out of foster care here in the US.

On top of all that is swirling with the ministry, we recently lost my sweet Grandpa, a war hero whose love affair with my Grandma spanned 68 years. The day he died, I loaded the girls up in the car and headed to my parents' house to help with funeral preparations. While there, my mom and I worked for hours on a slideshow that showcased my grandfather's amazing life story. I went to bed at 1am the night we finished the project only to be awakened at 5am by a screaming child (this is always a great way to start your day). I went to Junia's room and found her screaming on the floor (this then woke up Eden who also started screaming ... did I mention I had had four hours of sleep at this point?). Junia had evidently rolled out of her toddler bed which is just a few inches off the ground (and the irony is she sleeps in a big girl bed at home!) As Junia is prone to drama at times, I put her (and Eden) in bed with me and got them both calmed down a bit. Junia through more tears told me "Mommy, it hurts to touch it." As this sounded like more than the usual drama, I turned on the very bright bathroom light (at 5 am ...) only to see a VERY LARGE bump where her clavicle should be. I then called poor Super Dad who had just returned to our house from a business trip to the opposing coast and who was also running on four hours of sleep to ask what a broken collarbone looked like as he had had one as a child. It was very clear at that point given my mad skills in diagnostics that the bone was indeed broken (being able to feel two distinct pieces is usually not a good sign). Given that my only other alternative was to sit with two screaming preschoolers in an out-of-town ER for 6 hours while waiting to be seen by some disinterested resident, I opted to throw my bedraggled kiddos into the car and drive (at 5 am...) the three hours home directly to the front door of our pediatrician's office so that he could confirm my diagnosis (which he did in about 3 seconds) and help my baby girl.

As I drove bleary-eyed up the freeway through the morning-commute LA traffic, I was thinking about a comment made by a good friend of mine recently. Keep in mind that this friend is someone we know really well, someone whose kids are friends with my kids, someone who is in our social community. She asked me if I thought I would ever want to "have my own someday". Now this is not the first time I've been asked this and I have learned to put on my happy face and self-censor a bit and use these opportunities to help teach people about adoption, recognizing that this is something very foreign to most people who define family by blood ties. That being said, I found this particular interaction more troubling than most because this is someone who knows us well. And yet, she still didn't get it. She still didn't understand that by asking a question like that she was negating the legitimacy of my children as "real children" - children that are "my own". She still didn't understand that God had forever knitted us together as family in a mysterious and amazing miracle, not unlike how He works in the miracle of conception. I left my conversation with her saddened. For all we are doing right now to raise awareness about orphans and to promote orphan care and adoption, it appears our efforts may not have succeeded in our closest circle. As I drove 80-plus miles an hour because my baby was in pain and needed her Mama to fix her, I thought to myself, "If this isn't my child, then who does she belong to?" Seriously, if you ask me if I want "my own" kids that implies that the kids I have are not mine, and if they are not mine, can someone please tell me whose they are? If they aren't mine I am certainly going to a fair bit of inconvenience and enduring a fair bit of life disruption for children that belong to other people. They certainly appear to belong to me when one of them wakes me up screaming at 5 am or when one of them grabs both of my cheeks in her small little four year old hands, puts her nose to mine and and says "I love you, Mama" or when one of them calls for me from her darkened bedroom and says in her smallish two year old voice "Mommy, I want you. Sleep with me, Mama." From all I can tell practically speaking, they are mine. Two governments say they are mine and more importantly God says they are mine and will hold me accountable for what I am doing to raise them. So, dear friend, please don't ask me if my precious girls for whom I have rearranged my career, my social calendar, my sleeping schedule, my bathing rituals, my long-term financial plans and, generally speaking, the sum total of all my life goals are "mine". It should be obvious to you by now that they are and it breaks my heart when you ask that because these children are as "real" to me as yours are to you. They are my life as your birth children are to you and no child that comes from my body will ever have more status as "my own" than these daughters born of my heart.


Casey Martinez said...

I cannot imagine waking up to that screaming and then seeing my poor little girl hurting. Oh, makes my heart hurt for you just thinking about it. Plus you drove 3 hours...you are super mama. Crazy that she broke something in such a short fall. That's kinda scary:(. I do have to say that it is good for me to hear your perspective as a mama of two adopted kids because I think a lot of people ask that question, "ever gonna have your own," without realizing what that implies or how it really sounds to the mother. Yes, you are most definitely a family and they are most definitely your girls..they are your own! I think people's curiosity gets the best of them...mine included and we ask questions. Most of my friends who have adopted have also had a child biologically. My other pal though is adopting because she cannot conceive...how much would it sting every time someone asks her in the future if she is ever going to have one of her own?? OUch. We are all just learning as we go I guess. Be blessed mama

Zoe said...

Nicely said. And hard to say it when it's a close friend.

A dear friend of mine who's trying to get pregnant has said on a number of occasions that her husband wants "children of his own." I know that what she means is that he's attached to the idea that his child be biologically related to him, that he's more comfortable with blood-related children. So be it. But the phrase implies that biological means "your own" and adopted doesn't. Or that the former is more "your own" than the latter.

Poor Junia! Hope she heals quickly. You juggle so much so well!

Just Believing said...

Amen Sarah! I would like to borrow that part about " my own kids" for my blog if you don't mind!

I couldn't have said it any better myself!

Erin said...

Poor little dear!!! OUCH! And super scary for momma. That must've been one stressful drive.
Well spoken about the "your own kids" question. I hate that so, so much!

We Are Family said...

Feel terribly for your baby! Prayers to heal QUICKLY!

I love your thoughts on "your own someday".........LOVE!

M.O.M. said...

Way to say it,Sarah!

Debi said...

So well said. It is hard when it is a dear friend that cannot understand. Sometimes it takes a firsthand experience to understand.
When I first saw the picture of my precious niece, she was my sister's niece. I thought she was beautiful but really felt no connection. As we persued her adoption, an amazing heart connection was made. I feel as close to the 2 "grafted" ones as the "homemade" ones.
Praying for a quick and good healing for precious Junia. You are a supermom and God has blessed you with beautiful daughters.
Love, hugs and prayers,

Katie said...

I came across a link to your post from another blog, and just wanted to thank you for putting this so eloquently. I hate when people suggest that my son is not mine because he didn't come from my body, and some days it just feels so exhausting to try to "educate" those close to us who we thought would get it by now...

Sending healing thoughts for your daughter's collar bone!

Rebecca said...

I couldn't agree more. I can't even count the number of people (including close friends) that have not only asked if we're going to have "children of our own" - but have even said "I really WANT you to have children of your own". As though Eli isn't my own. He's as much my child as any other child could ever be!