So the short of it- We have begun the adoption process for another boy, this time, from Burundi, Africa! Burundi is an east African country that actually isn't too far from Ethiopia. This time around we are adopting an "older child," a boy between Mekonen and Evie, which at this points lands us with a 5 year old. We are so excited we just might bust. Especially Mekonen! He is super stoked to have a brother that "matches him" as he calls it.
I'm here at the library today for several hours working on my graduate thesis. I will finish this thing if it kills me. (Finish it- as I sit here blogging. But if you know me well, you will fully understand how if something is heavy on my heart I must write before I can put my mind to writing work in another realm). My thesis is on adopting across racial lines which therefore has me reading hundreds and hundreds of pages on adoption, race, racial awareness, racial identity, and the list goes on. It's fascinating. If I have to get stuck writing a 200 page paper it might as well be about something I'm passionate about right? But academic journals and professionals can sometimes panic me as I read all these things about transracially adopted children and their identity, I start to panic and fear I'm screwing up my children for life.
I don't want my sons' identities to be in the fact that one son is Ethiopian and one Burundian, Ethiopian-American, Burundian-American or even the fact that they are well-rounded children with feet in both worlds of their birth country, African Americans and White folk. Wow. That's a lot. As has been our prayer since all of our children joined our family, biological and adopted, we have prayed that our children will grow to understand and accept Jesus' forgiveness of their sins through the cross and resurrection, and make Jesus the Lord of their lives. This dear friends, is the identity we long for our children to have. This dear ones, is the identity we pray for both of our sons- Mekonen, and the son whose name we don't know yet. When I begin to feel overwhelmed about "doing it all right" I need to remind myself that the Gospel will do more for the hearts of our sons in a way that nothing else can.
It is the life-long parenting process of pouring into the lives of our sons the fact that if Jesus is King of their hearts and Lord of their lives, THAT is their identity. Not their birth family, not the circumstances that brought them to be placed for adoption, not their adoptive family, not their birth heritage, and not their American upbringing. If they have accepted the forgiveness only Jesus provides, then they are Christians and now they have a new identity worth far more than any other identity on this earth... that is the identity that is eternal. It's the ONLY one that matters. It is the thing I want most for my children.
Once I became a Christian, I received all the benefits and blessings that Jesus has (Ephesians 1). I am forever attached to his identity, his status. As Philip Ryken said in his book on Galatians, "The reason union with Christ is such a magnificent doctrine is that once we get into Christ by faith, then everything Christ has ever done becomes something we have done. It's as if we had lived his perfect life and died his painful death. It's as if we were buried in his tomb and then raised to glorious heaven. God attaches to us the events of Christ's life so that they become part of our lives. His story- the story of the cross and empty tomb- becomes our story."
This is the greatest identity to have. In our crazy me-centered world it's easy to live looking for our identity within ourselves. That's what everything around us is telling us to do. And for the transracially adopted child that is an even bigger deal. But that's not where true and lasting joy and hope are found. With an identity in Christ, we need not base who we are and what we are worth on things that have anything to do with us. Instead, if we are Christians, we need to base our identity on Jesus.
On the days where the questions are asked and the answers are hard to hear, and we realize that as White parents we fall so very short of truly understanding the world our sons will navigate with brown skin, I pray that the Holy Spirit gives us the words to say to not only educate our boys but to minister the Gospel to their hearts. That we tell them again and again, who they really are, and who their identity will be in if they trust in Jesus. This is what I want for my sons. I want them to be able to say, "My confidence, my identity is not found in anything having to do with me or my story. It's found in Jesus." That is the prayer of my heart, and that is where true healing and life begins.