I just finished reading “There is No Me Without You” by Melissa Fay Greene. She tells the story of the Aids pandemic destroying Ethiopia. In America, where HIV is considered a chronic but manageable disease, we don’t think about it. We are protected from it’s devestating effects. And if we weren’t, well, we have the resources to fight it. I confess that prior to reading this story I had a self-righteous attitude towards those who were HIV positive. Somehow in my conservative white, middle class upbringing I latched onto the belief that those infected somehow deserved it. As Greene points out in the book, had the disease surfaced in a beautiful blue-eyed, blond-haired child rather than Haitian or gay men, it would have caused a very different reaction.
We live in a broken and dying world, and while disease is part of that, it is never the heart of our God that I condemn the hurting and the broken…or condemn sinners perishing in their sin. God judges, not me. For so long I lived without compassion. And I am sorry for that. Greene tells the story of an Ethiopian soldier who was separated from his wife for many years. During that time they were allowed once to go into town and…that is when he became infected, eventually returned home and infected his wife. Who am I to condemn or to judge this man? His story is a tragedy and breaks the heart of my God, as it should break mine.
And so adoption continues to stir in my heart as so many grow up without parents. I daydreamed about traveling to Ethiopia and coming home with a two year old little boy. I imagine rescuing him from the orphanage where he doesn’t have much, and giving him all the things he needs…food, clothing, shelter, access to immunizations and antibiotics. I will be his white knight. He will love me because I saved him. And now…while parts of that may still be true, I see the depth of tragedy…because by coming with me, this child will give up the last bit of what he had left after his mother and father passed away. He will come to America and cease to be Ethiopian. His identity will be completely altered. So while I may rescue him from certain things, I am also destroying certain things. The culture and the customs he will forever lose. And when he goes back, while he may resemble an Ethiopian, he won’t quite blend in anymore.
This doesn’t change my heart. I still want to bring him home. But I feel better prepared to interact with this child and mourn with him for all that he will be losing…and to allow him to mourn, however long it takes and whenever it comes as he grows up. Adoption isn’t something you ever get over.
And that said, I always thought of him as our adopted kid.
Monday I took Kyler to the pediatrician (60th% for height, 10th% for weight…super skinny girl!) and as I held her waiting for the doctor to come back in and give her the shots I thought about her brothers and sisters. I thought about my kids…and I missed them. All of them. They don’t have faces or names, and I’m not even sure how many there are…one…two…three…ten? But I long for them to be here with us, biological and adopted. The distinction has ceased to exist for me. I miss my kids.