(Editor’s Note: This piece was written to commemorate Adoption Awareness Month.)
When people first see our family, they often do a bit of a double take. At first glance, we don’t necessarily look like we go together. My husband and I are both Caucasian, with a quarter Cherokee in me that gives me a little bit of color. Our children are both beautiful African Americans of different shades. When we’re out in public and my son calls out to me, “Mom!” or our daughter calls to my husband, “Dad?” it just doesn’t look “normal.”
Children on the playground, in their innocence, are never afraid to ask, “Are you his mom?” To which I simply reply, “Yes.” If they have more questions, I gladly entertain them in an age appropriate way. The goal is to help educate. To help make our family seem even slightly more “normal.”
The interesting thing that I have learned through being an adoptive parent, especially in a transracial adoption, is that we are a visual testimony to the Kingdom of God. Not everyone might receive us or see us in this way, but the reality is that as Christians, we have all been adopted by God to be a part of his family. Galatians 4:4-6 says this: “But when the right time came, God sent his son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Second, we know that God invites and welcomes everyone to be a part of his family — he does not discriminate based on skin color, background, socioeconomic status or education level. God’s grace abounds and is for all who choose to follow him. So as we live together and are seen as a family, we are a small, albeit imperfect, glimpse of what God’s kingdom promises to be.
Something else that I’ve learned about being an adoptive parent in a transracial adoption is that although God’s kingdom receives and welcomes all people, the world that we live in does not. Therefore, every decision we make as a family about where we live, where our kids attend school, and the kind of church we serve in, is an intentional decision based on the unique make-up of our family. It is important for our children to be able to look around and see faces that look like theirs and experience their birth culture in the communities we engage with on an every day basis.
So, when our family walks down the street we may not look “normal” and people may have to take a second glance, but once people figure out that we are indeed a family, then we can hope that others might get a small glimpse of what it looks like to be a part of God’s family.
Amy Graham is discipleship pastor and small group coordinator for The District Church in Washington, D.C. Amy and her husband, Aaron, along with others at DC127 and the District Church coordinated a conference on reversing the foster care wait list called Foster the City.
Amy Graham, with her husband, Aaron, and their children, Natalie and Elijah. Photo courtesy Amy Graham.