November 8, 2007

An atypical family

Today, as guest blogger for National Adoption Month, we have Nicole Baart. Here's her story.

November is a special month for my family because it marks both the birthday of my biological son and the homecoming of my adopted son. Sometimes I feel like I could write forever on the nuances of our life and why we believe God chose to weave our family together as He did. But mostly I just love watching everything unfold and learning more about what it means to be a godly mother every day.

Often, I learn more from my children than from the numerous books I devour on the topic of adoption. My favorite “lesson” came from my three-year-old only weeks before we brought our new baby home from Africa.

My husband and I are both Caucasian and our youngest son is Ethiopian. When we received his referral, we ecstatically printed off copies of his picture and hung them all over our house. Our three-year-old fell immediately in love with his baby brother and took to carrying around a picture that quickly became dog-eared and tattered; he’d proudly whip out his precious photo and introduce total strangers to his new brother.

One woman saw our son’s beloved photo and commented, “What a beautiful brother you have! Look how handsome he is.”

It was a perfectly innocent and loving comment, but it made me wonder how much my oldest son understood about the complexities of our soon to be biracial family. Later, when we were alone, I probed a little bit.

“Honey, your baby brother is different from you, isn’t he? What’s different about him?”

“He came from ‘opia (our son’s toddler version of Ethiopia) and I came from mommy’s tummy.”

“You’re right,” I smiled. “What else is different?”

“He’s little and I’m big.”

Right again. “Anything else?”

“Ummm… he has curly hair and I don’t.”

At this point I was laughing out loud. “Is there anything else that’s different between you and your brother?”

My son screwed up his face for a moment and then grabbed the nearest toy. “Nope!” he yelled. Conversation over.

Nowadays, our baby is a fun-loving and energetic sixteen-month-old, and his very best friend is a four-year-old that still doesn’t get that the rest of the world thinks they’re different. My husband and I are so proud of both of our sons (and their respective Dutch and Ethiopian heritages), and we do everything we can think of to encourage them to embrace their diverse roots while developing a profound respect for each other. But they’re kids. And the bottom line for them is: they’re brothers. That’s all that matters to them.

I love the fact that in this crazy world of sharply drawn lines and distinct colors, my boys just plain don’t care. It’s not that they’re color blind--in fact, my oldest son is downright crazy about his brother’s gorgeous chocolate skin--nor do I want them to be; their diversity is one of the many things that makes them so beautiful. But I do think that they intrinsically accept something that we could all stand to learn: we are one in Christ. Forget black and white, biological or adopted, we are one just as “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). I love what my kids are teaching me about unity in the wonderfully distinctive and extraordinarily atypical family of God!

Thanks, Nicole for your wonderful adoption story.
Nicole Baart, author of After the Leaves Fall


Nicole Baart said...

Thanks, Linda, for allowing me to be a part of your focus on adoption. May the Lord bless you in all that you do.


Anna said...

This is a great story! It brought tears to my eyes. I came over here from Nicole's blog and am really interested in yours! I'm subscribing now. :)

super girl said...

Nicole, you're so welcome. It was my pleasure having you. Blessings to you and your family (and your writing).

Anna, thanks for visiting (and subscribing). I hope to 'see' you around sometime. Take care.

Ane Mulligan said...

That's so wonderful, Nicole. When will the rest of the world wake up to that fact?

One of the most insightful times of my life was sitting with the VIP cahpter on ACFW. All but one member if African-American. As I sat in the meeting, the thing that spoke to me the most was how sweet the group's spirit was. I also realized looking OUT through my eyes, I didn't "see" myself, and there was NO difference between us. It was a beautiful moment, and one that will last in my memory forever.