So thankful my friend Lorrin was willing to guest post with me today! Lorrin and her husband, Rick, were some of the first people to befriend Jason and I when we lived in MD and were new to a church there, many years ago. We had loads of fun nights of coffee, wine, and Canasta. I even learned how to make apple pie in her kitchen. Thanks for sharing your heart here today, mama!
I didn’t expect motherhood to be like this.
More importantly, I am not the mother I expected to be.
God often has a way of throwing you curveballs, forcing you to grow and change in ways you never considered. I didn’t start out on the path to motherhood expecting so much of my life to change, but it has. It’s altered in ways I never anticipated because my two girls have forever changed me.
I don’t see race the way that I did fifteen years ago. You see, as a white military brat who lived all over the US and in one foreign country, I grew up in diverse communities, sometimes as the minority. I thought the goal was to not “see color” because it meant you looked at a person’s character rather than their physical appearance. I thought that racism was on the wane in America. I thought that intent (“I didn’t mean to hurt you”) mostly if not completely excused away ignorant prejudice and stereotypical jokes.
And then I adopted two girls from China.
They are Asian-American, not white, and my world view is forever shaped by that. I’ve learned that race shapes the way a person sees the world because race shapes the way the world sees the person. I’ve learned that racism remains prevalent in this country, and is in fact terrifyingly on the rise. And I’ve learned that, while intent is important, impact is much more important. The healing focus needs to be on the person hurt, not the person who did the hurting, regardless of what they meant or understood, and that the offender must take the time to educate himself so as to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
I don’t see adoption the way that I did when we began our parenting journey. Adoption professionals led us to believe that adoption was simply how you created your family, not a life-long journey filled with many twists and turns. So many in society expect my children to feel grateful – once even my own sister expressed annoyance at my daughter’s adoption-related grief because “she should feel glad that she’s not growing up in an orphanage.”
Over the past decade, as I’ve watched my daughters’ processing of their adoptions, I’ve come to understand that adoption is God’s redemptive response to a tragedy and that a good outcome cannot and should not be expected to erase a traumatic beginning. You can’t will the hurt to disappear or ignore it away; instead, you need to face it, name it, help your child claim it and walk alongside her as she heals from it. My daughters can love two mothers just as easily as I can love two children. And my daughters have multi-layered, complex emotions and opinions about adoption because adoption itself is multi-layered and complex.
I am less likely to see personal inconvenience as an imposition now that I parent two daughters with invisible special needs. Both of my daughters have medical conditions that greatly impact those around them. One cannot be around gluten (which is in pretty much everything at the grocery store, including toiletries), and the other has a condition that necessitates frequent (frequent!) bathroom breaks. I’ll be honest – it’s an inconvenience to those around them. It just is. Goodness, it’s an inconvenience to me, and I love them. But they deserve to feel fully accepted, just as they are, exactly as God created them.
My growing awareness of this simple fact influences my acceptance of others as well. My youngest daughter has several classmates who have significant special needs. Ten years ago, I might have felt concerned that my daughter shares a classroom with a child diagnosed with moderate autism, another born with Down Syndrome and a third child diagnosed with an intellectual disability. But now I understand that the Lord teaches us many lessons, some overt and some intangible. My youngest continues to learn important lessons about compassion, patience and a respect for diversity that would not happen in a classroom filled with all typically developing children.
God is growing my compassion for others because I now know how it feels to have your children viewed as an inconvenience. Motherhood continues to shape and mold me into the person God wishes me to become. I learn and grow every day, and often feel surprised by God’s plan for me. Twelve years ago, I never imagined having such a significantly different worldview than the one I now hold, but that’s the joy and the challenge of an unexpected path to motherhood. Race. Adoption. Special needs. I do not see them in the same way, and I am grateful for the lessons.
Lorrin stumbles her way through life, clutching a cup of coffee and her Bible, trying her best to “do small things with great love.” She is the wife of an elder, and an adoptive momma to two amazing girls, ages six and twelve. A former teacher and avid bibliophile, her next big dream is to earn her MLS degree so that she can become an elementary school librarian.