Updated: Apr 11, 2020
And...here it comes. I can see his face changing, its a sort of grimace smile of compassion mixed with gentle reproach, and I know exactly what he is going to say next.
I smile, and brace myself.
You see I had just finished telling him that we adopted a teenager and were thinking about adopting again. And there it appeared...the look.
Its a look I've come to know well. Its the look that comes right before they launch into a story of woe and warning. Its usually a story about a sister, or a cousin, or a friend they used to know who adopted an older kid or a couple of kids and it all went terribly wrong. Its a story about pain and a good hearted couple who were left heartbroken after the kids ran away, stole from them, became homeless, or ended up back with their biological families. They tell me these stories with compassion in their eyes. Compassion for me, the kindhearted idiot who surely wouldn't have taken on this risk of heartache had I only heard their story of woe sooner.
I've been on the receiving end of this look ever since we started telling people we were applying to become adoptive parents. I've had it from family, friends, and strangers on a plane.
This day, this man told me a story about his sister who adopted three kids who all ended up running away and going back to their family of origin. And I listened patiently.
I always do. If I'm feeling full of grace that day I will also thank them for caring about me enough to speak up and share this warning with me. I've become practiced at thanking people for their kind-hearted condescension. I try to remind myself that their intentions are good and that they wouldn't have bothered saying anything if they didn't care about me.
I'll rant to my husband later though, "They think we're naive! They think we don't know. They must think we are blindly running into this without thinking or considering the cost." I don't like the idea of people thinking I'm a blind fool that has optimistic and foolish ideas in her head of this being easy.
That irks me.
Of course it isn't easy.
Of course it's a risk.
Of course this is more difficult than traditional parenting.
Of course it might ruin our lives.
Of course they might break our hearts.
But I'm not afraid of my heart breaking.
I'm not afraid of pain.
I'm not afraid of struggle.
I'm afraid of what will happen to these kids if nobody takes the risk to love them.*
"For greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends."**
Because you see, it was never about me or about my life anyways.***
So do not think of me as naive.
Don't think of me at all.
Think about them.
*Not an original quote. Its a favourite among adoptive parents. Original source unknown.
*** Rip off of the last line of Mother Theresa's poem "Anyways"