Let’s imagine for a moment that you are a part of a family where you are one of two children. Your mother has light hair and dark, denim blue eyes. Your father has sandy blonde hair and eyes as pure, clear blue as a summer sky. Your sister has hair so yellow it’s almost white, and eyes a shade directly in between your parents—a true blue. Then there’s you—you have dark brown hair and such dark eyes that you can’t actually locate your pupil. When you’re all out at the grocery store or restaurants or even just out for a walk, all of these strangers keep loud-whispering to your parents, “Is he yours?” or “Boy, does he have dark features! Where did those come from, I wonder?” or “Are you babysitting today?”
And for as long as you can remember, your parents have told you that this, this family, here is where you belong. “You may be the only one with dark features, but you’re ours! God just made you so special and unique. When you were born, we looked at you and wondered where that dark hair could have come from, but we always, always thought of you as perfect, and perfectly ours.”
And for as long as you can remember you wanted so badly to believe them. For a while you thought you did believe them. But every time a person asked if you belonged, you continued wondering if you actually did, for no one in this group sharing a last name looked like you.
Now let’s imagine that you weren’t born of that mother, and not only do you have darker hair and eyes, but your skin is literally on the opposite end of the spectrum as theirs. Your skin is as dark as a black cup of coffee, and your family’s skin is like the cream. And not only do you hear questions of belonging, but you hear questions also asking if your mom knows your real mom. As your identity forms, you begin to question if you’re good enough, if your skin color is not as good as the majority of your family. You begin to wonder about your peers at school who look more like you than your own kin. You begin to wonder if you’ll ever fit in anywhere.
As I write this, tears are streaming down my face. Because this is my boy. This is the story of my boy, you guys. We can tell him over and over again until our faces turn blue that he belongs with us, that he’s ours, and that we love him and believe unconditionally in his value and worth, but I can’t imagine him growing up not wondering about his identity. Especially not with the state of our country when it comes to race. I’ve had someone say to me once that he knew more about racism than most because he was hated just for having had red hair, but having one feature that stands you apart from the crowd is not the same as racism. It’s not the same as learning to relate to your racial identity. For simply looking different from your family does not alter your level of opportunity, it doesn’t exclude you from groups of people who resemble you, it doesn’t cause others to suspect you as the root of a normal childhood spat, it doesn’t limit you from being invited to a play date.
More than anything, we want our boy to feel secure in who he is, how he was raised and above all, to know that his God did not make a mistake writing his story.
In light of that, in light of all of this, Gabe and I have always known that we want to have more children, but as we’ve prayed through our next steps with children, we feel as though we have been lead to adopt again. Friends, we are going to adopt again a precious baby of color. (Insert more tears here.)
While we know that love is something big, it’s not enough; while we know that words are something big, they’re not enough; while we know that prayer is huge, it’s just not enough. You see, each of these heavy, significant blocks play a meaningful part in laying the foundation of Martell’s identity, however, there’s so much more that will to contribute to full, sure groundwork for him. In a great demonstration of love for our little man, and for our future adoptive child, we hope to create mirroring in our family for these babes as they grow into all that they will become. Out of great obedience to Christ, we are choosing to grow our family with the children that he chooses to be ours.
I’m not under some false illusion that this is going to remedy all of our future complications revolving around race and living in a transracial family. But we are excited to take one more step towards belonging for our adoptive children. Please pray with us while we’re inundated with paperwork, financial gaps and question marks, home study preparation, and the list goes on. Please pray for our baby—whoever he or she is, whether conceived yet or not—pray for divine protection over him or her. Pray for that birth mama who is a precious hero. We love her already.
Adoption is a beautiful, tangled mess that we have felt wildly unprepared for. There is trauma no matter. There is hardship no matter. There are questions of adequacy all around no matter. While we often feel like the more we learn, the more we become overwhelmed, we are so thankful to have a steady, unchanging, all-knowing Lord that oversees it all. So, on the adventure goes, and on we go running forward, one unsteady step at a time.