After learning about attachment, we discovered a completely separate issue--that of parenting a child whose race and ethnicity are different from our own. We learned that, for transracially adopted children, most report that race plays a bigger role in their identity than the fact that they're adopted. So, we switched gears. We started learning about fostering a positive racial identity by making a point to raise our child in as colorful and diverse a world as we possibly can. Making a point to expose our child to meaningful cultural activities that teach them about their birth country and give them pride in their ethnicity. I think the saddest thing I learned in all of our "racial identity" research, was how often transracially adopted children wished they were white. As someone who thinks being white is pretty boring, and has often wished for a more exciting racial background, I just found that so sad--that children who are so beautiful and special just the way they are, wanted to blend in and just be like everyone else. It made me realize how much each of us longs to fit in and belong. The fight to teach our child(ren) how special they are, how loved and valued they are EXACTLY as they are, will be ongoing. Race will always be an issue for our child. It can't be ignored. We can't just say, "race doesn't matter to me" because race matters to our child.
Now, with our darling Holden, we will tackle yet another "issue". The issue of disability. I haven't read the stats, but my guess would be, that a transracially adopted child with a disability would tell you that the disability defines them more than anything else. Unlike the transracially adopted child, who can choose to walk on the opposite side of the street from their parents, who can choose to hang out with children of the same race as them, and be involved in cultural activities of their choosing, our Holden will be stared at no matter what. At the playground and at school, kids will ask him, "Why do you need that wheelchair?" or "Why do you need those sticks?" Every day will be a struggle for him to show others that he's more similar than different from them--that even though he gets around the world differently, he can still have fun. He has the same hopes and dreams and feelings. I think this really hit me, when I thought about the fact that our Holden could be surrounded by all transracially adopted Indian children, and he will STILL be different. He could be surrounded by all children in wheelchairs, and he will STILL be different. I'm guessing a support group of transracially adopted Indian children in wheelchairs probably does not exist! Modern psychology would tell us that our son is destined to have a lot of "issues". This whole thing kind of sounds like a psychological experiment destined to implode on itself, (think Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment, http://www.prisonexp.org/)
After pondering all of this, and, at times, feeling overwhelmed, I kept coming back to one thing: don't we all have issues? Our "disability" might not be evident on the outside, but it's there just the same. I'm not trying to downplay the hardship that people who are physcially different face. I'm just saying, none of us is perfect. God makes that very clear throughout His word. Each of us humbly comes to God with a messed up, sinful heart, with nothing to offer but our broken little selves. And, each of us, on our own, can never solve our issues. I don't believe that all the research, therapy, or support groups in the world could fix our son's issues. I'm not saying we won't continue to seek out those things as a supplement, but in our humble opinion, each person's issues are healed at the feet of Jesus. I like how Ephesians 2:1-10 explains this plan:
"1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
So, our solution to what seems like insurmountable issues in our precious child's heart, is simply to take them to Jesus. To kneel at His feet every day, and offer them up to Him. I'm not saying, that by doing this, we'll guarantee that our son will come to love and trust in Him. That will be his choice alone to make. But I do think that faith in God is the only real hope for a broken heart to be healed. I know I'm not going to make many friends by saying that. I know it seems closed-minded in a world where so many different faiths and beliefs prevail, but I take God at His word. I believe it to be true. I've seen the evidence of Him in my life and the lives of others, and I won't apologize for my unwavering faith. I don't dislike or disrespect anyone who believes something different, but I do wholeheartedly believe that Jesus' blood is what covers and cleanses the sins and imperfections of this world... be they our own sins, or just the sad consequences of living in a world that is so terribly imperfect.
That being said, adopting a child for us has nothing to do with "saving" them or trying to put a checkmark in a box on our Christian works checklist (Yep, that's right, all Christians have a checklist, and they're supposed to complete a minimum of 10 boxes a year.... totally kidding). It has everything to do with allowing God to show us His world as He sees it. It was God who gave us an overwhelming love for this little boy. He blessed us by showing us how He sees this child, how special and marvelous he is.... how much God loves him; how much God loves each of us. If adopting a child were about looking like good little Christians, we would never make it out alive!
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9So that is where we are right now. We'll continue to learn and research and prepare as best we can to be the loving parents that Holden deserves. But for us, preparing also means growing in our faith and learning to trust in Him minute by minute. You know, it's funny, because Holt just featured our story of finding Holden in their e-newsletter, and I keep thinking, "What is the update one year from now going to look like?" It's so easy to stand on this side of the water, trusting God, but the day to day realities of parenting our little boy will challenge and stretch us in ways we can't even imagine. I'm thankful, that although I'm guessing many people have wondered silently to themselves, "are they CRAZY?!" that no one has dared to speak those words out loud to us. We've received nothing but love, support, and excitement at bringing Holden home. And trust me, people, we're gonna need every ounce of love and support you can give!