July 31, 2012

My Village

My girlfriend’s kitchen.  Over the years it has been used to strengthen my body and, more substantially, to nourish my soul.   Its walls have eavesdropped on my stories of drama, heart-break, frustration, and victories.  The box of tissues on its countertops have faithfully stood at attention, waiting to absorb my sudden, unexpected tears.  In addition to the kitchen’s frequent role of providing comforting food and steaming cups of coffee, it has also been the venue of wise counsel humbly dispensed, earnest prayers sincerely offered, and warm hugs eagerly supplied.  It has gradually become my haven, the place where my heart runs to find refuge.  My girlfriend’s kitchen is like a protected sanctuary in my little village, a place where I can relax, refuel, and be reenergized for another day in the foster care jungle.

The ancient African proverb accurately and succinctly states:  “It takes a village to raise a child.”  While I don’t necessarily support the modern-day principles that have been applied to that proverb (i.e., that parents need government-funded programs and so-called early childhood development “experts” to correctly raise well-rounded children), I whole-heartily agree that we as parents need the support, encouragement, and wisdom from others in our community, in our “village.”   

July 23, 2012

Is Love Enough?

From her earliest memories, she recognized that she was not quite like other people.   Somehow she knew that childhood is supposed to be full of laughter and wonder and joy, yet she experienced none of those things.  Mostly she felt lonely, but where was the instruction booklet on how to make friends?  Her mother’s tone of voice just then . . . was she being honest or sarcastic?  That expression on her classmate’s face . . . what did that mean?  While other girls her age were experimenting with make-up and giggling about cute boys, she found herself getting lost in an intriguing sci-fi book or sketching elaborate animals that had human-like faces.  Her inability to connect with people left her feeling isolated, but she never could quite figure out what to do about it.  Eventually she just accepted the fact that the dark cloud hanging over her life was there to stay.

As a young woman, the thought of bringing a newborn baby into this sad, confusing world was unthinkable.  However, because of her strong belief that God created the life that was growing inside her, placing her child for adoption with a stable, loving family was her only option.  The only way she could think of to give her child an opportunity to live a normal life.  It was entirely possible, of course, that the child would inherit her unique characteristics, her Nature if you will, but she sincerely hoped and prayed that the right Nurture in the right environment would be stronger than the genes that were being passed along to her offspring.  That love would be enough.

Through nine long months she persevered in her commitment to offer her child a better life than the one she had experienced.  Battling her doubts and fears, trying to comprehend the deep loss she knew she would feel, and turning a deaf ear to her mother’s plea to keep the baby, she remained resolved.  And when that day finally came when the new life entered the world, she wrapped him carefully in a tiny blue blanket, and with a mixture of grief, relief, and hope, placed him gently into my waiting arms.

July 5, 2012

"Are You Planning to Adopt Him?"

“Are you planning to adopt him?”  It’s an innocent question that is often directed my way by well-meaning friends and curious strangers alike.  He regularly rides in the shopping cart that I push through the local market, obvious to everyone who sees us that we belong together.  He sits on my lap during the church service every week, clearly a part of our family for the past 2 ½ years.  He perches comfortably on my hip during every conversation, plays near my feet while I’m working in the kitchen, and sits at the table coloring during our homeschool hours.  Undeniably, we are every bit as connected to each other as any other mother and child.  The only difference is that he is black and I am white, which makes it instantly evident to every observer that we do not share the same gene pool.  Yes, it doesn’t take long at all for people to ask, “Are you planning to adopt him?”  I frequently hear that question, but oh, how I cringe when I do!