My five year-old bounded into our bedroom well before I was was ready for any kind of activity. My wife and I had been up late, gone to bed tired, and laid awake until the stupid hours of the morning with our minds racing. We weren’t ready for the sun to come up yet. And we certainly aren’t ready for what’s on the horizon.
I looked at my son, laying there with his head on the pillow next to mine. This is good, I thought. He snuggles up to me, settling into the pocket between my shoulder and my neck. It feels comfortable. Our family of three, lying in our Suburban City, USA™ bed, is in so many ways sheltered from the world just outside the windows. The bed is warm and cozy. It would be easy to stay like this and change nothing.
“Are you excited about not having school today?” I asked.
“Yes! ” he said as he turned onto his belly. He propped himself up on his elbows and looked at me. “Today we don’t have to go to school because it’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.”
Even though he was wrong about today being MLK’s birthday, I was impressed with his public school kindergarten education. I gently corrected him and then talked about how blacks were treated differently than whites. I told him that white people thought they were better than black people just because of the color of their skin. I told him that MLK fought for equality, spoke about being made in the image of God, and wanted justice for all people. I told him we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to treating people fairly.
I looked over at my wife and she gave me a nod. “Go ahead,” the gesture said.
“Buddy, how would you like to be a big brother?” A toothless smile shot across my son’s face. He’s been asking for a sibling for three years now. For five years we have been trying to bring another child into our house. After three fruitless years of trying to conceive a biological child we entered the process to adopt. Since that time, Luke has talked endlessly about all things he wants to do wth his little brother or sister: take them to the museum, show them how to use a toy, watch a movie with them, teach them to write with sidewalk chalk. He wants to share his world with someone who he belongs to and who belongs to him.
“Last night mommy and daddy got a call that we are going to adopt a baby boy. And you know what? He’s going to have dark skin like Martin Luther King Jr.”
I watched his face for a reaction. With the smile still on his face he simply said, “I’m going to sing him songs when he needs help going to sleep.”
It hasn’t been 24 hours since we got the call. I find myself wrestling with all that has happened in such a short period of time. God gives parents nine months to prepare themselves for a child, and I suppose our five years should have been enough, but I feel greatly unprepared for what lies ahead. I know, no one is every ready to be a parent. I’m still not ready to parent Luke. But everything changes today. In six weeks I will be the father of an African-American son.
Today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will never be the same.
I watched the movie Selma and asked myself the question, “Would I have marched? Would I have risked my standing within my largely white social circle to join hands with those who walked courageously across that bridge?” Asking those questions can no longer be a nice philosophical exercise. I will have a son who is black. His presence in my life, even at this very early stage, is forcing me to consider my past response towards racial injustices – which, if I am being honest, has simply been to affirm racial equality from a place of comfort. I must ask why, if I am willing to take more of a stand for my son, don’t I speak out more now? The question of justice has always demanded more than an intellectual nod, I guess.
There is much I do not know about raising an African-American boy. I’m sure I’ll fail a lot – and differently than my shortcomings as a parent to Luke – as I try to be a father. I’m sure Sarah and I are going to learn things about racism in America that we would prefer to not know. I’m sure we are going to be uncomfortable in our comfortable Suburban City at some point. I’m sure I am going to be shocked as the racism in my own heart is exposed. I’m sure there are going to be times I’m accused of taking things too seriously as I defend my son from wayward comments.
I’m sure we aren’t ready for what’s on the horizon, but we’re waking up.
Our journey is just beginning. It’s been a long, strange, and wonderful one thus far. Adoption is not for the faint of heart. We haven’t even started the main event and we know that. It requires resolve, commitment, and a whole lot of faith.
Faith plays a central role in our adoption journey. Out of our faith comes the belief in adoption. In faith we pursued adoption. In faith we trust that God will provide the finances. We have been able to save a lot and secure some loans, but we are still in need. We’re inviting you to be a part of our adoption story. Head over to our YouCaring site to see how you can be a part of growing family. Thanks!