Saturday, January 28, 2012

"You're so good"

I'm sure most adoptive parents are familiar with variations on this phrase, and I'm also quite sure that the majority of them find it just as irksome as I do.  Because it just isn't true.  We are not any better than anyone else.  Frankly, being an adoptive parent can sometimes make you face up to the fact that not only are you not any better than anyone else, but that you are not even as good as you imagined yourself to be.  While I know people mean for it to be a compliment, it's just not.  What it ends up sounding like is that there must be something quantifiably different about us than other people; that they are off the hook because they are not like us.

Very rarely does anyone go into adoption already practiced at the skills they need.  Usually they just start with the desire to be a parent and perhaps with some experience in raising biological children.  Our skills are learned with tried and true practice.  And like most practice, sometimes the process is discouraging and painful.  God equips us to do what we need, but he equips us through practice and not by giving us the skills by divine fiat ahead of time.  If I seem more competent than you feel, it was a hard won competence and one that I am still working on.  Don't let appearances fool you, I have more than a few moments when I find myself on my knees in tears because I have failed (again) or have no idea what I'm doing or both.  There is nothing special about me except I'm learning to let God have control.

And have you noticed that a family who adopts once, more often than not goes on to adopt again?  Maybe it's because it seems less scary the second time.  Or having gained new skills we feel a little more prepared to add another child.  Or we have been given the gift of being able to picture our family in a different light; that our vision of family has been enlarged.  And often we have been inside a real orphanage and looked into the faces of the children living there.  They have ceased to become a statistic and have instead become real boys and girls who have no mother to kiss an owie or a father to throw a ball with.  We can imagine what it would be like to parent one of these children.  And once you can imagine it, the reality doesn't seem as far-fetched.  God has begun to reshape our desires to more closely match His.  There is nothing good about us, but there is plenty good about God.  Our goal becomes only to reflect that goodness.

So if you want to offer encouragement or a compliment to an adoptive family, don't tell them how good they are.  They won't believe it anyway.  But you can tell them that they are blessed and perhaps you have been blessed by watching them.  Because that is the truth.  Over and over throughout the Bible, God blesses His people through the gift of children.  This has been our experience.  And we are very rich in blessings indeed.


Gerrie said...

Very well said Elizabeth.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister.

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