Pride & Identity: Striking a Balance

My, how life gets crazy quickly. In 6 months we have traveled to Texas, met our daughter, brought her home, went back to work, traveled to the West Coast twice, finalized her adoption, put our house on the market, taken our house off the market, and updated all of our international adoption paperwork. Whew, things have been busy.  I began the year inspired to post something on my blog at least twice a week. I did that for all of one week and then fell off the bandwagon. Whoops! But here I am again, attempting to do better.

I feel as if my blog has become more of a platform to update - update on adoption processes, Brighten growing up, and the goings on of life. But in my head and in my heart, I want it to be more. I want to tell our story, the daily, or at least weekly story of how my life looks now that I'm a mom of the sweetest little nugget and as we continue to wait for another little one in Ethiopia. So today, I'm writing a post about one of the questions that has been frequently asked over and over again since we brought Brighten into our family. As with most things in my life, however, answering one question is more than just a quick yes or no. So, here is my attempt to give background information and context in hopes that it will allow folks to understand the complexity of the adoption world, as well as the simplicity of how we would like for our child(ren) to understand their adoption stories. It all boils down to balance.

What I'm about to tell you is something I never thought I'd write for the world (or the 10 of you who read my blog) to read, but here it goes: I never thought I'd have a Caucasian child. There, I said it. That was hard, especially in the society that we live in. Now, let me unpack this confession before you make some terrible assumptions about me, swear off reading my blog forever, and unfriend me on Facebook.

When I felt the Lord begin tugging at my heart to adopt, I really only considered international adoption. This is just where God led me. I don't have much more of an explanation than that. I thought China, Ethiopia, Uganda, Columbia. When I met, began dating, and married Jason, my olive-skinned, Puerto Rican Prince (he's going to kill me for calling him that), I truly felt like my dream of a multi-ethnic, multi-culture family was being confirmed even more by the Lord. Excuse me while I show even more of my crazy when I tell you that my journalism degree has caused me to think in headlines. When we started talking about adoption while we were dating, I thought to myself: "The Moraleses: How one family from Central Alabama set their sights on adopting children from every continent". Again, Jason is probably curled up in a fetal position right now at the thought of having 7 children (he originally said one, mmmaaayyyybbbeeee two). Okay, Jason, I'll settle for 6 - we don't have to adopt from Antarctica. 

Our domestic adoption, to me, was completely from left field. It was a total God thing. We began that process last spring, and Brighten was born just a few months later. Time-wise, it was much quicker than our international process and if we would have known that going in, we may have been tempted to be disobedient to ever begin our international adoption because it has been such a long, hard road. Even so, when we began our "Searching for Sunshine" pursuit last year, I still never really thought about adopting a Caucasian baby. This was not because of stereotypes or anything like that, I'd just had the mentality of international adoption for so long that it was foreign for me to think of anything other than Africa, Asia, or South America. 

Why is this important? The truth is, it's not. And that's what I discovered in this crazy, twisty, tourney adoption journey. When we found out that there was a little girl who would soon be born in Texas and needed a family to adopt her, I looked at Jason with tears in my eyes and said, "We can't not pursue her." Excuse my double negative. I decided that I don't have enough wisdom or discernment to hear about a child who needs a family and decide to or not to pursue them for adoption. I told Jason that God would have to close and open the right doors - and He surely proved faithful in that! But for the purpose of this story, my dream of adopting children from different cultures and of different ethnicities is important because I never thought I'd have to think about telling my child(ren) that they are adopted. I knew we'd talk to them about it and be very open, but I also thought that to the outside world, it'd be kind of obvious.

But, God called us to adopt a sweet little Texan, with fair skin, greenish blue eyes, and light brown hair. Sometimes God's plans are basically the opposite of our own, but they're so much better!

Sometimes God's plans are basically the opposite of our own, but they're so much better!.png

So, here is the FAQ of the day: We are asked on a regular basis if, when, and how we will tell Brighten she is adopted. Many people tell us that she looks like us, which is funny because that's just something I never expected people to say about my children and me. Our hope is that Brighten will never not know she's adopted. We already talk about it very openly, read children's books about adoption, and pray that God would give her a sense of pride and love for her birth mother. She also has a biological brother that lives just a few minutes down the road, and we pray for a sweet and lifelong friendship for them. We know that the word "brother" will mean different things to Brighten than it will to other children because she will have a biological brother who is part of another family and household, and at least one adopted brother who will live under the same roof. 

While we want Brighten to grow up knowing her adoption story and taking pride in it, we also don't want that to become her identity. More than anything we pray that she is adopted into the family of Christ and believes in Jesus as her Savior. That is where she should place her identity. It's where, as believers, we should all place our identity. 

We know that as Brighten grows up and gets older and is able to understand her story, there will be a delicate balance that we must strike when it comes to her adoption. For now, we have decided that a healthy balance for us as a family is to not announce to people that she is our adopted daughter. She is fully ours, just like a biological child would be. However, if there is a question that we are asked where it would be lying to not say she's adopted, then we share that she is, in fact, adopted. For instance, when someone comments on how pretty her green eyes are, we simply say, "Thank you," and agree that she is incredibly beautiful. But, if someone asks where she gets her green eyes (when they see that both Jason and I have dark brown eyes), we say that she is adopted and her birth mother has green eyes and we are so thankful she got her beautiful eyes from her. 

As our family continues to grow through adoption, and as we add children to our family who may not look like us at all, we hope that God will give us wisdom on how to appropriately strike a balance between taking pride in their stories and finding their identity in it. Each of our children's stories will be different, and we pray that God gives us the courage, discipline, and discernment to parent each of them accordingly in a way that will help them find joy in life and their identity in Christ.