Our new neighborhood is flooded with children from infancy to teens. Today about 50 of them ended up in my yard playing football, playing with grass and mud making fake food. It was the first time since they came home we had people who were unfamiliar with adoption, fostering or our family over. I was nervous more like terrified that it was going to end badly.
Our life is a lot of different because of where we live. Adoption is not common, fostering domestically is taboo and not talked about. It’s pretty routine to walk into public and be stared at, asked incredible intrusive almost abusive questions about my daughters’ biological family or my martial status.
We’ve talked til we are blue in the face about what it means to have a white mommy. The stares, the talking at some point each day they hit a cord. I wish a lot of days I was invisible so the staring would stop the abusive questions would subside and I could grocery shop without worrying about someone insulting our family using foreign words I don’t understand yet only to have my 8 year old explain a different insult I haven’t familiarized myself with yet. Yet, despite these questions, the stares and sometimes the need to grab at the white lady with black kids my daughters are unwavering about their role in this family.
“ Yes, this is my white mom. No, we don’t have a daddy yet.” “No, I am not an orphan.” I caught on quick when to intercede and throw a quick stop asking my kids questions at supermarkets. There are still times my brain can’t translate or catch on quick enough. It’s hard to be so vulnerable all the time when you step outside your own gate. There is no break, we stick out all the time, everywhere. It’s just how it is. The three of us have accepted it and together we navigate it typically with a laugh or smile because sometimes it is just plain ridiculous.
Today I invited what I expected to be questions, stares and rude opinions into my front lawn to play. I felt myself on edge. How would handle if these questions came up? How would I react if it hurt my child’s feeling? I’ve learned I am not as tough as I once thought I was.
The questions began about 30 seconds into this massive playdate. Rhoda immediately came over and whispered “ Mom, can I tell them?” (In public we typically either tell the person it’s not their concern or ignore the questions because of safety and because if I am buying tomato paste I typically don’t want to explain some of the most gut wrenching personal details on our family nor is it my story to share. ) I told her she could share what she felt would explain it. I also told her if she felt like she was too sad or it was too much we could back away.
Then I heard my wise beyond her years, 8 year old explain the tragedy of adoption and fostering to 50 peers. In such eloquent words I don’t think I could have ever used. She explained what is was like to lose her family and then to wait for a family and how it was hard at first because it wasn’t the family she thought she would get. She had expectations of what white people were supposed to be like but once she came home she realized people had lied and that was hard. She spoke so passionately about how hard waiting was especially because the longer she waited the sicker she was getting. She talked about her family now that it is different and people stare but that’s ok because we are still a family. She talked about how her biological family was still her family but her white family was just as much her family. She told them she loved her Ghana family and her American family same same. She told them her mom was white but that didn’t matter. I swear my breathe was taken out of my body as her little body held so much courage and tenacity. . Then like the brilliant mind that she is, she opened the floor for a small Q+A.
10 minutes later I was back to having my hair braided and tangled while my 5 year old took on kids twice her size in a game of soccer. Every child satisfied in just being children. Curious,mysterious and extremely fun.
In the moments where I forget about the beautiful story God is writing for our family, he places reminders like this so evident of a story much bigger then I imagine.