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Archive for March, 2012

It has been a rough week.

A few days ago, an altercation occurred between a teenager and a neighborhood watch volunteer.  The teen was black; the volunteer Hispanic.  One died, the victim of a gunshot wound to the chest.  Many call it a hate crime.  Others claim the shooter had cause.  The story has been front page news across the nation for days.

Last weekend, a blockbuster based on an extremely popular young adult book series smashed box office records all over the world.  Yet a disturbing trend of disparaging tweets about the race of a pivotal character made headlines.  Some of these tweets expressed disappointment that an African-American actress was cast for the role; others said the character’s death “wasn’t as sad” as they thought it would be “because she was black.”

Apparently we’re not so enlightened as a society to believe the days of racism — either assumed or actual — are behind us.

Just look at the aftermath of the week’s events:  Death has been politicized, or minimized according to color.  Those with lighter skin are hunted in Chicago by gangs with hoodies seeking some warped form of vigilante justice.  A celebrity with an axe to grind carelessly shares the wrong address of the shooter, instead condemning an elderly couple to night after terror-filled night, fearing for their lives.  Technology is used to degrade a young girl because of her skin color, despite the author’s obvious intent for the character.

Ignorance is revealed.  Latent anger, even hatred, is uncovered.

I intentionally used the passive voice there… because that’s how we tend to process tragedy.  We separate ourselves, believing “we” are somehow above the fray.  “We” would, of course, never do such things.  “We” are more empathetic, more enlightened, more tolerant, more politically correct.   After all, “we” elected an African American to the presidency (insert sarcasm here).

“We” are different than “they” are.  Surely.

But are we?

The truth, deep down, is that we’re not so different as we’d like to believe.  Every single one of us tends to believe one side over the other based on our own biases, our own experiences, our own set of beliefs.  And some of those biases, my friends, are ugly.  They are deliberately ignorant.  They generalize, they stereotype, they degrade and humiliate.

They reveal our hearts.

Our youngest daughter will have darker skin than we do.  Unlike our esteemed President, I don’t have to speculate as to whether this biologically unrelated child will look like me… I know for a fact she won’t.

I’m not going to stand here on my soapbox telling you how we “don’t see” color… that it won’t matter in her life.  Because whether it matters in our own little circle or not (it won’t), the events of this past week make abundantly clear that such things still DO matter in this world.  That ignorance and hatred exists, no matter how much we want to wish it away or sweep it under the rug.

Will you recognize the ugliness in your own heart today?  What, then, will you decide to do about it?

May I humbly suggest something?

Don’t “stand with Trayv*n”… but don’t assume the worst of him, either.   Don’t dismiss racist tweets about a beautiful child as immature banter, or as a sign that the world is about to collapse under an onslaught of hatred (although you all should be dismayed at the apparent and total lack of reading comprehension in our populace… Rue was, after all, clearly described in the book as having dark skin).

Instead, I would encourage you to be sad.  Saddened that our children are hateful.  That our elders harbor generational prejudice.

I would also encourage you to be reflective. What does this reveal about the world in which we live?  And, more importantly — lest we are tempted to pass blame and judgment elsewhere — what does this reveal about me?  About you?

Deep down, am I really any different?  Are you?  Are you just better at holding your tongue than those who are condemned for their words?  Does that really make you a better person?

What are my own prejudices?  To whose “side” am I likely to jump, if given only an instant to take sides?

Be honest with yourself… and then…

Be personally proactive.

Do everything in your power to ensure racism, whatever remains of it through generational prejudice, experience, or whatever, is eradicated in yourself.  In your own children.  In your circle of friends.  Teach your kids.  Take every opportunity to live by example.  Pray to God to remove the vestiges of sin in your life, and in the lives of those around you.

Yes, our daughter will have dark skin.  She is coming into a world where she will likely be looked down upon by someone simply because her skin is brown.  Make the decision today that you and yours will not be that someone.  That your heart will be changed.

That’s where we start.

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Less than one day after my last post, I read this… from another momma who adopted from our same agency, and has since made the journey again.

My favorite part:

I have a Daddy who has made mission out of a heart-union, me to Him. He is so good that He allows disruption, distraction and delay (yes, even the kind that the enemy sends, because we know it is God who has the final say) to even the most stunning quest  – adoption — so that my heart would know hunger.

I was made to know Him, more, every day and in every life-delay. It’s here that I come alive, regardless of the external.

And my daughter, who talks more about her baby sister every day, left her high chair open for the first time… saying with certainty that it was “because Baby E is going to come home soon.  Baby E will sit in the high chair, and I will be a big girl.”

Thank you, Sara… and my sweet baby girl Annie.  Thank you, Father, for speaking truth and comfort through their words.

 

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My dear children…

Mommy hasn’t been paying much attention to you lately.

Yes, a lot of that has to do with the incessant coughing you hear from Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom at all hours of the night.  Little sleep means that Mommy has been exhausted for a couple of weeks now.

(Yep, I’m STILL sick.  Stupid cough.)

But you may also have noticed that the daylight hours aren’t much more interactive.  Mommy spends much of her time staring blankly at the computer, jumping six feet or so in the air every time the phone rings.

(Last week, the phone rang with a particular number more than once, causing shortness of breath and some involuntary muscle spasms — in other words, Mommy completely freaked out — until the voice on the other end wasn’t the one hoped for.  A bit of frustration ensued.)

My sweet babes, Mommy is pining.

A couple of weeks ago, we found out that we had moved to the top of our adoption agency’s wait list.  That any day could be THE DAY when we discover the name and first see the face of the next daughter and sister who is to join our family.

Since then, the boys have been prohibited from even touching Mommy’s phone.  “Angry Birds”?  No way.  Totally off-limits until we get THE call.

Mommy is jittery.  Distracted.  Even when not medicated, still often swinging wildly between hope and despair. Bringing more animals into the fold (most recently a rabbit) to keep from going insane.

It’s not pretty.

My dear children, Mommy loves you more than words can say.  And because she loves ALL of you — including the one she doesn’t yet know — this craziness will likely continue until she can wrap her arms around each and every one of you all at the same time.

Something about the way God put together a mommy’s heart makes it unable to work properly unless it has all of its parts.  And each of you holds a piece of your Mommy’s heart.  YOU are what makes it beat, what makes it strong.

And when one of you is missing, Mommy’s heart doesn’t work right.

My precious ones, pray… and hope… and trust with me that this time will pass quickly.  That the phone will ring.  That her image will appear on that computer screen.  That we will book tickets and gather donations and travel and come back and travel again.  That she will finally come home as a new daughter and a new sister.

That Mommy’s heart will be whole again.

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