Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shattered and Refined

One thing's for sure:
leave the house with children of more than 1 skin color
 invite interrogation.

Now, you may read that and think: 

"Oh, that's terrible."
"No... surely not."
"But, it's 2011, that doesn't happen."

Let me assure you, however: Yes. It does happen.
Try it with The Celebrity Baby and see for yourself.

Many Possibly all adoptive parents deal with this far, far more graciously than I do.
I have read lots of great blog posts about how to deal graciously.
 I certainly  try to be gracious  want to be gracious, really I do.

I want my answers to people's prying to

...but mostly I find myself just really annoyed.

The staring is distracting.
The inappropriate questions are impossible.
The comments are stunning.
The intended compliments even, resonate like insults.

I am, after all, 150% attached to this daughter of mine.
She is my joy and my star and completely complete.

So it's staggeringly painful to watch strangers
 pick up the shattered pieces of her story
roll them around in their hands like shards of smashed pottery
wonder at the details
shake their heads slowly as they imagine her secret history
and without lifting their eyes to mine, keep their palm upturned awaiting another broken piece.

"Where's her mother?"they always ask.
"In heaven", I always answer.
"How'd she die?"
"Where's her father?"
"How long'd it take you to get her?"
"How'd you find her?"
"Did you have to actually go get her?"
"What made you want to foster?"
"Are you just caring for her?"
"So she's bought and paid for then?"

"It was a beautiful  but complicated thing, how God preserved her.", I normally respond
many different times, 
myriad ways,
stumbling as I try to protect her
shielding Her Story from voyeurism
while still being nice superficially patient.
I sense their dissatisfaction with this kind of dismissal 
and I feel squirmy.

I was told in pre-adoptive education courses to answer lots of ways, including
"Why do you ask?"
and I may be getting to that point here, soon.

Look, I know why they want to know.
We are totally different skin colors, the daughter on my hip and I.
We are a walking contrast.
I get it.
I know.
And I'd want to know the story, too.
Here's the Thing, though.
I want to talk about the Restored Beauty, not the Broken Pieces.
I want to highlight the 
Lovely, Unreproducible Masterpiece 
the Lord created using ALL the broken pieces, 
mine and hers both
to build this family.
I want to hear how amazed people are that she looks like me, somehow.
How connected we seem.
How content she looks.
How RIGHT it all is.
Not how incongruant.
I want them to see the Amazing Mosaic...not the splintered fragments.
I want them to know that The Potter (Isaiah 64:8)
a clay jar (2 Corinthians 4:7) in the Refiner's Fire (Zechariah 13:9).

And He gets the credit.
And He surprised no one more than me.
And He isn't done, yet.
And He is the whole point, anyhow of raising any of these kids at all.
And plus, the boys get really tired of always being stopped in public, listening to questions from strangers about "how they like their new sister".
And I'm not awesome.
And she's not "lucky".
And her mother loved her intensely.
And I get the ridiculous gift of raising her, undeservedly.
And a hundred other things.

....and I am still looking for a way to say all of those things in the grocery store aisle with 3 boys, a 15-lb bag of dog food, an open box of cookies, $300 worth of food and a poopy diapered infant who wants out of the cart immediately if not sooner. 

*I should point out, before I lose all friends I've ever had,
 that I DON'T mind talking at LENGTH and ANYTIME I am possibly able to, 
with ANYONE who is either
A): sincerely interested in adoption 
or B): actually a part of our lives and loves our family.

The conversations I am referring to are mostly with people at Publix and Walmart
and mostly by the people who also give a low whistle and say accusatorially: 
"Welllllll, you've sure got YOUR hands full."

I am, 
still figuring out grace.


  1. Give it some time my friend. It took ages for me to answer with grace. I try to steer away from the sarcastic comebacks but I know that they work well for others.
    Why do you ask is always good. Also (although it stinks the first time) just saying that her story is her to share when she chooses works beautifully. It is awkward though....really awkward the first few times. Then it gets easier!
    Also like we talked about at the restaurant in begin to not notice the stares and I swear the more oblivious I have become the less people feel like they can approach me and ask questions. I think because I did not notice them noticing us they thought a lot harder about approaching me and asking questions. : ).
    Love your heart! Talk to you soon!

  2. I'm so sorry you are being approached by the rude/nosy people. It's so hard. And it's harder when the child is old enough to understand. I now have Jadyn thinking we bought them. I hate that. We are constantly telling her that we did not buy them, we adopted them. But it's easier to have the negative sink in vs the truth. :-(
    My very first trip to Walmart with Ethan, we were home less than a week, his cleft lip was still not repaired, and I sat in the car and just prayed that God would "keep the nasty Walmart people away from me". And guess what? He did. Not one comment. I did not notice one stare. So maybe say a little prayer before going into the stores.
    Praying for you as you figure out the best way for you to handle the situations. I know I still have not figured it out. I do love confusing the nosy people though. I love telling them my girls are not twins, they are sisters and they are 3 months apart in age. They can't figure that out. Hugs to you! And thank you for your amazing posts. I love how honest & true you are. :-)

  3. Is it horrible to think how lucky I am to have you in my life, a wise woman who is paving this journey before me?

    I'm taking notes sister.

  4. Oh, Esty, I hesitate to say anything because, having never adopted, WHAT DO I KNOW? Not a thing. And I don't want to say anything that might be offensive because I honestly cannot imagine all the emotions and intricacies in your situation....

    That said. I wonder if the people in Walmart see the beauty of the seeming incongruency? They see that outward dichotomy and yet the seamless "rightness" of your family. And maybe it leads them to question (albeit, not knowing how) how this overwhelming beauty and unusual "rightness" came to be? Family. Put together by Jesus. Whether physical, spiritual, or both, it is a mystery. That said, however, Walmart stoppers-by are *extremely* frustrating. Period. :)

    Thank you for your update and honesty.... I've been wondering how you're doing and am praying for you and that sweet, sweet family of yours!

  5. you and me both, my friend. so much love to you.

  6. I am already praying that I will find more grace than is characteristic of myself for these situations....

  7. yup and have written a similar post myself. ;)

    Really hard to shine the light when you are chasing the babes in the isle with stranger #472 asking personal personal questions.

    XOXO to you as you navigate through.

  8. I love your honesty. Our family is in the adoption process (adopting from Uganda); we are currently waiting for our court date. I searched for other families who have adopted to read other people's stories, and to learn from others walking in similar shoes. I have come back to yours time and time again because I simply love your honesty. Thank you for your transparency. I have learned from it in our adoption journey.

  9. Oh, Esty! I love this--thank you for being real about it with your buds here on ye ol' internet. Thank you for being frustrated! Thank you!
    And I will pray about this for you---
    love and kisses to you and Rissa (and Luke and Graham and Ethan if they'd let me!)

  10. My best friend, who also has 4 kids, also get the "You have your hands full" comments all the time and they drive her crazy.

    I have to say though that I struggle when I see a family who looks like it was built through adoption. I want to ask because we're in the process of adopting, and I love to talk to other adoptive parents. But without our child home, it's hard to approach the other family for fear that I will offend someone.

    Your family is beautiful and your blog is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your heart with us as you preserve your children's stories for them.

  11. I can imagine that it gets frustrating but I think you have an amazing opportunity to teach from all of this...forgive them, for they know not what they do. :) Not saying it is easy or that you want to all the time. Thanks for being so honest and for teaching me. Xoxo