I told the boys this morning, "You may each have some Sprite after you have put on your pants and brushed your teeth." Chalk that one up as a parenting phrase I never thought I'd say... But as Sparkle was pulling on his jeans and working on the snap (tricky, those snaps) he said, "Mom, you know, I think the silent e is kind of mean." (Ha!) "Why is that?" I asked, truly thrilled by his observation and wondering what the heck he was going to say next. "Well, it's always changing one thing into something else, like a 'tub' into a 'tube.' " (Ha! What a kid! And also, thank you Between the Lions!)
Later this evening he and I were making pumpkin bread together. He's way into baking and measuring, my Sparkle, and he's always excited to bake or cook something together. Right in the middle of the recipe, like, as we were adding baking soda, he asked, "Mom, why did you want two brown boys?"
This isn't the first time he's asked me the same question. And he's phrased it that way each time. He asked Beloved the same thing a while ago when I wasn't around. He's looking for something... I'm not sure what or why. I've never, ever said we adopted them because we wanted two brown boys. I've never said we wanted brown kids in particular. I'm not quite sure what he's getting at, or what he's really asking. Maybe he doesn't know either.
We had a long conversation about it, probably seven to ten minutes of talking over his adoption in particular. I said some generic stuff about how I wanted to be a mom ever since I was a little girl, that I was waiting and praying for a child, how we asked the adoption agency if they knew of a baby who was going to need another mom and dad (not a different mom and dad... to me it's important that he knows his first mom can still be his mom but he needed another mom), how we loved him and wanted him, how he was the one child who made me into a mom... I don't know what was said... Nothing really new, I don't think.
We got the pumpkin bread into the oven and I scooped him up and sat his little hiney on the kitchen counter, where he was right at my eye level with my arms around him. He was messing with my necklace while we chatted. I must not have answered what he was really asking because he asked then, "But why didn't you want a little white boy?" I answered, "You mean, a baby who was born out of my uterus?" Yep, he said, why not that? "Baby, we needed you... I didn't have a baby out of my body because we were waiting for a baby who turned out to be you."
(Sometime let's talk about the difference between telling a kid, "You were the answer to my prayers" and "God meant for you to be ours." Whew, that's a discussion! Not too inflammatory, is it? You can handle it, right?)
Then he was done. I think Beloved and Pumpkin came downstairs at that point, and Sparkle was ready to go play.
Sheesh, these children... Always growing up and asking new things and expecting us parents to grow and figure stuff out with them... Demanding little folks, children, aren't they?
I've been thinking about it since, and I'm not sure my answers to him were complete. He wants to know why we ended up together. He doesn't care about the things that were not the reason we adopted.
Does that make sense?
I didn't adopt my kids to prove anything... I didn't adopt to show that I'm a good person. I didn't adopt to prove I'm not racist. I didn't adopt with the intention of rescuing a poor child. We wanted to parent and adoption was the way we chose to build our family.
But I think I've been so determined not to place value statements on the decisions made by adoptive parents as well as placing parents that I've missed something important.
Our family does say something about us.
It seems arrogant to think that our little family could demonstrate anything positive to the world. If we do, it will be by grace alone...
(Wait, no faith stuff here!)
Anyway... Here's what I hope our family shows about us:
We believe that people can choose to be family to one another. We believe that making the decision to love someone is always a good choice. We believe that people have value because they're people; not because they are like us, they share our genes, they share our lifestyle, they share our beliefs, or they share our culture.
Maybe Sparkle needs for us to tell him that more directly. Maybe we need to say, "We chose you to be in our family and we decided to love you forever, and that's why we adopted you."
I love you, my Sparkle.
(Check out the hug/stranglehold. That's a pretty good summary of brotherhood, right there.)