There’s a group of moms that I hang out with quite a bit…or as often as I can. Last year on a “field trip” with these women and their children someone stopped us in the restroom – where we had all crowded in – and asked, “Are you a summer camp or a day care?”
We moms laughed, gathered our children, and answered, “Oh, we are just a bunch of moms out for the day!”
As the long line of us trailed out the door, I again laughed as I thought about the fact that we are certainly a mixed bunch of folks. As you know, two of my children are fair-skinned and blonde-headed, and two of my children are the color of dark chocolate with tight, dark curls pouring out of their African-born selves. Another mom in the group is married to a man who is of Eastern-Indian descent, so their children are dark-skinned with dark straight hair. Another one of our group is an adoptive mom to twins of Hispanic genetics. And there were at least a handful of other kids running around that belonged to us.
We moms all sort of laughed about it all, and we have all discussed it since. We love that our group is varied; we enjoy our children and their many colors.
Recently, I was at a park with my children, a friend, and her children. We were there savoring the cool(er) morning air, so there was only another man and his child there with us. He watched us all playing for a while. I could tell he was watching. When I walked over to help my youngest child, he asked.
“Are you daycare…I mean childcare?”
What he really meant is, “What is going on here…and why do you have all of these children who do not look like you?”
You see my friends children, all four of them, were adopted from Guatemala, and as you well know we are an Ethiopian-American family.
I made a point to smile warmly at the man, laugh casually, and answer carefully, “No, sir, these children are all ours. We are both blessed with four amazing children.”
I must confess that on the inside I was a bit sad. I was sad that if one of my children had heard that question it might have unsettled what we have worked so hard to instill over the last 20 months- that they are ours – they are wholly ours, and we are theirs.
Yet later I realized that a huge prayer of mine had been answered. When we were adopting one of my biggest fears was that I could not provide an environment suitable for my children of color. I want to; we try to. When we look at the people in our life, they are all so very different; we hang out with people who are different colors, different sizes, and some who see the world differently than us. Yet this fear lingered month after month.
When that man asked that question, it occurred to me that my prayer had been answered. This wasn’t the first time I had been asked. I’m sure it won’t be the last. I wish that people were a bit more sensitive and a lot more open, yet I understand that we aren’t the “normal” family and that others sometimes need to ask questions to learn the lesson. I try to show grace and answer nicely while all the while considering the needs of my children before the needs of the stranger. It is sometimes a tough balance…but since that day the balance seems a little easier by the reminder that God often answers prayers in the most bountiful ways! God had answered my prayer months and months ago; it wasn’t until recently that I realized it.
Oh, God, thank you for the many, many ways that you answer my prayers. You so often give so much more than I could ever think to ask for. And I am so prone to forget – to forget that I asked, to forget to watch for your answer, and to forget to say thank you. I praise you for being generous and for working all things for good, and Lord, please forgive me for forgetting to say thank you.