Tuesday, 16 March 2010
I (don’t) know better — Reflections on #Summit9
“I know better” is where I started, two years ago.
Someone sold me a bill of goods (except I was both seller and buyer), a mythology about adoption and what it all means in God’s big kingdom, but then I adopted and now I know better.
People get into adoption to join a movement and “rescue” a child, but I know better.
The orphan care movement stirs emotion and misguided action at best, and reinforces racial and socioeconomic stereotypes at worst.
But thank God I know better.
Thank you God, that I am not like other people…
-The Pharisee in Luke 18:11
I heard the voice of the adoptee stronger and clearer than ever, a light to lead the way.
I heard the story of a man who grew up in an orphanage in Kenya and described how his heart broke over and over when white people would visit and then never return. How he wasn’t considered one of the cute ones, so he was never picked up by these visitors. How his heart formed a shell after a while, how he never cried until he was an adult.
I soaked in the wisdom of Karyn Purvis, who swore at a Southern Baptist church to get her point across (and gave me another reason to love her forever): You have to deal with your own sh*t before you can help your child deal with theirs.
I learned about my son. I learned about my brother and my sisters-in-law. I learned about my family and my beginnings. I learned about myself.
* * *
This was my first Summit, and I’ll admit now that I was fearful before going. I’m writing this book about adoption, and I worried I’d be surrounded by people who knew so much more, had so much more experience and insight. I was afraid it would reinforce my self-doubt, my who-do-you-think-you-are thoughts that come when I sit down to write. I thought that instead of inspiration, I’d get paralysis when I came toe-to-toe with my own inadequacy again.
But it was different than that.
I did encounter people who knew so much, but it wasn’t so much that they knew more as it was that they knew differently.
Adoption is such a complex act. In it you experience a depth of loss you may have never felt before. You come face-to-face with some of your worst qualities. You find out how desperately you try to hold onto a semblance of control, and what a mirage it is. You see how deeply personal the entire thing is.
Because we’ve been through it now, and those illusions have been torn down. Now we know we are the ones being redeemed.
That when God sought us out, he knew that our children would be part of our redemption story.
* * *
It’s taken a couple of years, but I’m finally starting to see that it’s not as simple as I’m right and you’re wrong. In fact, I’m seeing that I’m chief among offenders. I see so clearly now how I need other opinions and varied perspectives to be able to zoom out and take in the big picture. It’s hard to write this, but I need to confess: I thought I knew better than you. Will you forgive me?
I’m arriving in one of those places you feel like God has been waiting for you for a while: It’s OK, my sweet girl, he whispers to me. It’s OK that it took you a while to get here, but I’m so glad you’re here. Humility is a better road for you.
It’s a road of asking hard questions but then really listening for the answers, or finding peace (and humility) in the not-knowing.
Adoption is about making all of us more human. Growing up in a family is a basic human right. Connection is what gives us our humanity. And I’m so thankful that because of Summit 9, I can see myself reaching out to those with whom I disagreed before. I can tell that I have something to learn from them, and we have something to give to one another. That together, we can give the world a holistic picture of adoption and orphan care and really at the foundation of it all — the love of Jesus.
Because when I say that connection is what makes us human, I mean love. God is love, and apart from him we can’t connect with each other, we can’t love, we can’t be human.
* * *
I don’t know better.
At Summit, I was both humbled and validated, because God confirmed that he has given me a fire in my belly about adoption and especially during- and post-adoption support for adoptive parents. That’s just where I land. That’s the need that I want to meet.
But I desperately need the adoptee voice.
I desperately need the prompting ministries that help people see their calling to adopt.
I desperately need the organizations working on the ground for family reunification and global orphan care.
I need all of them.
And I was validated that although I don’t know better, I know differently, too. I have a unique voice and part to play in this community.
And we might not always agree or get along, but that’s OK, too. That’s why God made us a family.
See you next year, Alliance family.