Friday, September 16, 2005

Dispelling the Myth

If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times. People are constantly telling us that we are "so good," or "so generous," and even "heroic" because we are adopting Bao. I have been trying to think of a one-line response to those statements. I think one is finally beginning to take shape in my mind.

The most appropriate thing I can think to say is, "No, God is so good (generous, etc.)"

Now, I know that not all of my readers are believers in Christ. But for the sake of understanding me (or perhaps the Christian faith) a little better, let me explain why I say this.

Before I get to anything spiritual, I just want you to think about it. We are not giving Bao anything more than we give Bug and Boo. With respect to being a parent, there is obviously sacrifice. But our willingness to parent Bao through adoption doesn't make us any more generous towards her than to our biological children. I think people get a false sense of generosity because Bao's beginnings might be considered less than ideal. But bringing her out of that doesn't make us generous. It makes us just like any other parent who gives what they can to their children.

More than anything, I wonder if people think we are generous because they see us as somehow giving up a spot in our family (that belongs to someone else?) by offering it to a child who doesn't really belong there. Deep down they are thinking, "I could never do that."

To that I have only one reply. I used to think that too.

I am not generous. The truth is that I am atrociously selfish. This isn't poor self-esteem talking. This is the truth. My selfishness becomes more apparent to me with each passing year. And it reared its ugly head about three years ago when Paul and I talked about adopting a child. We dismissed it pretty quickly. Selfishly, I thought about how much I would dislike raising a child that I couldn't raise from birth. And I disliked the idea of helping a child deal with the emotional and developmental effects of being adopted. And I think I had it in my mind somewhere that I could not love a child that wasn't "mine."

So, what happened?

God intervened. Truly, God is the generous one in this situation. He has changed my understanding of family and given me a "want to" for something that I never would have wanted to do on my own.

It began with the realization that even Bug and Boo aren't mine. They belong to God. They have a place in my family because God put them here, not because Paul and I made them. (Certainly Psalm 139:13 teaches that it is God who creates each one.) It became more evident to me that the children I call "mine" are the ones God places in my care.

But I still had some major hurdles to cross with regard to my own selfishness. And over the next year or so, God continued to work on me. Slowly the thought of bringing an adopted child into our family turned into a desire. It was the real deal. I can't exactly explain how he did that, I just know that he turned my "I don't want to" into "I can't wait!"

And I don't even think I can explain my desire to have Bethany as part of our family. I just WANT to. And God gave me the want to. Whatever objections I had before are gone.

Maybe people think we are generous because we are willing to shell out a lot of money to bring Bao into our family. (Of course, apart from insurance, we would have been willing to shell out a lot of money to bring Boo and Bug into our family too...) But I think if that's all it comes down to, then people don't really understand. When you WANT something, you do what it takes to get it... and it isn't because you are generous, or good, it's because you really WANT it. And, let me tell you, a want to from God is major. You can't escape it if you tried... and you wouldn't *want* to escape it anyway!

But even the finances are just more evidence of how generous GOD is, not us. In the last two weeks, people have given us no less than $945. I'm not talking about people selling some stuff and giving us the profits. I'm saying people are FLAT OUT GIVING US MONEY! And at least three of these people HARDLY KNOW US!

And it isn't a coincidence that the same people giving us money are also believers in Christ. God works even on the hearts of STRANGERS to manifest his generosity in our lives. (This is also quite a testimony to the love that God instills in the hearts of believers towards one another.)

God's goodness and generosity are making all of this happen. Without them, I never would have had the desire to do this.

So, maybe I should give a copy of this badly written essay to anyone who says "you are so generous."

But I'll think, "NO, God is so generous" will have to suffice.

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Anonymous favorite sister said...

uou could say they are ignorant or stupid or unimaginative for thinking you are any of those things merely for adopting.

Mon Sep 26, 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I love how you explained God giving you a desire to adopt. For years before we adopted our little boy what I like to call "God Moments" would come up. Stories on adoption on television, chance meetings with people connected to it etc. I would walk away in tears as God molded my heart into one of deep compassion for a child I had never even met. And, even now, I meet birth moms, and siblings etc. in "God Moments" that move my heart to pray for his family...knowing the deep connection that still holds them together.

Wed Mar 28, 01:49:00 PM  

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