Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why are my kids so unlucky?

When people hear the story of our family's multiple adoptions they often come to two completely inaccurate assumptions:

1) Y'all are such good people to adopt these kids.
2) Your kids are so lucky.

The first misconception is easy to debunk.  We are NOT good people.  We are no more holy and no less sinful than the other folks that we brush shoulders with and pass on the street during the course of our day to day routines.  What makes us different has nothing to do with our morality or "goodness." It's simply that we were made aware of something that many others have yet to discover: the world is literally overflowing with orphans....and we can do something about it.

But the second assumption has to be correct, right?  Our kids are lucky.  The youngest 50% of our brood were abandoned as infants and spent the first two years of their lives as institutionalized children fighting for attention in a Chinese orphanage.  No possessions.  No family.  No name.  They were burdened with special needs and inadequate medical care and a lack of needed therapies.  Now they have been scooped up and brought to the land o' plenty, the good 'ol US of A.  They have parents and siblings that love them.  They have their own bed, their own stuff...even their own name.  Now they see some of the best surgeons and therapists around.  It's easy to see how as an outsider looking in, you could conclude these kids are LUCKY!

And in a moment of complete's even tough for me as an adoptive father to not let this erroneous thought creep into the cracks of my brain on tough days.  When my daughter loses control and lashes out over a seemingly insignificant event and can't channel her anger and frustration I have caught myself thinking, "She better count her blessings, she's one lucky kid." 

But the truth is that the last word I would use to describe my two adopted kids is lucky. Why? Because they aren't.  Yes they are blessed, just like you and me.  But lucky? No.  They were discarded.  Unwanted and abandoned.  Without a doubt their tiny lungs screamed as they were laid down and their respective birth families walked away.  Usually, when a baby cries, their parents respond.  But this time, no mother came running to retrieve them.  No dad came swooping in to rock his baby back to sleep.  They cried and no one came.  We have reason to believe that both of our adopted children were not abandoned by their birth families without a sense of grief and remorse, but the truth remains that the men and women that brought these babies into the world walked away and didn't come back for them.  That's something that sticks with you as you grow.  It's not something that you forget or outgrow because these cool Americans came to "save" you and have given you fun toys and opportunities to succeed on the other side of the globe.  

Eventually someone did hear their cries. Assigned names and housed in orphanages, they fell into a routine and thus, started the next portion of their lives as orphans. This was their new normal. All they knew was being a Chinese orphan.  As hard as it may be for us to understand, they became comfortable in that role.  But then their luck turned.  There was a family that wanted them and wanted to call them their own.  So these nearly two-year-old children were pulled from everything they knew, everything that was comfortable, and whisked to America.  Everything changed. Certainly they grieved during this period of transition.  They left all they knew behind and, for the second time in their short lives, the world flipped upside down.

My soon to be five year old daughter loves to look at pictures from China and examine the photos and broken bits of information we have from before she was officially ours.  It's a completely normal and human thing to do.  We all want to know where we came from.  We want to know our story.  We want to be counted among the lucky ones.  She notices the countless videos we have from the early days of our two oldest kids and asks, "Where are my videos?"  You can almost see the wheels in her tiny little head turning and computing....what happened to me?  

Adoption is a long journey.  Just like raising any child there are highs and lows, ups and downs.  Good days and bad.  I praise God that these two beautiful creations from Asia are mine. But the next time you may feel tempted to look at them (or any adopted child) and think, "Oh, how lucky....their lives could have been so painful," try to pause for a moment.  Reflect on the hurt, the pain, the confusion and anger that comes from the string of bad luck they have faced.  Then if you don't mind, we'd appreciate a quick prayer that their two very imperfect parents are constantly reminded of just how lucky we are to be their mom and dad.

"It's from the deepest wounds that beauty finds a place to bloom."

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