Was I a Racist in My Own Home?

Do you see yourself as a racist?

Probably not. You certainly hope not. Right? Me too.

You know I’m probably going to say something like “we are more racist than we like to think.” Yep, I am. But then, if we’re honest, that’s no surprise. Don’t we all prefer to hang with people just like us? People who look, talk, and smell the ways we prefer. But that’s not really being racist, is it?

The problem comes when we want to see people become just like us. It’s not limited to races. This desire nests in anything that defines us: our faith, our political alignment, our parenting styles, and even our economic status. In our heads we know that if everyone else was just like us, the world would be grossly imbalanced. But deep inside we actually believe differently.

This is evidenced in our families, as well—where our children were born into a culture different from ours. We know it will take time, but hiding deep in our hearts, is the expectation that they’ll eventually start thinking and behaving like we do. And so we either ignore, downplay, or try to root out the impact of their beginnings. It’s hard enough to transplant them into our families. But let me tell you …

August 13 Roots

Somehow we have to learn to be at home with these little people from different places in the world.

It took me several years to come to the realization that my children would never turn into “mini me’s”. How I wished I had arrived at this understanding a lot sooner.

The following are specific ways that helped me learned to embrace our differences:

1. We regularly celebrated their culture of origin.

On the annual celebration of their adoption day we prepared Russian foods: borscht, pierogies, kielbasa, blini, and other fun foods. We also purchased Russian candy and kvas (a drink I can’t stand but my kids love) from a nearby Ukrainian store.

Aug 13 borscht

2. We talked positively, redemptively about their biological parents.

I wanted my children to feel a connection to their parents, and have a sense of place and purpose in this world. I didn’t want them to go through life bitter at their parents. God’s forgiveness is available for every single human. Opportunities to change and live in His grace are available even to those who’ve hurt us the most.

3. I had to grieve the children I never got.

I didn’t ever want to be bitter that God had not enabled me to have biological children, so I didn’t let myself grieve very deeply. But one day, after about four or five years of parenting, I had to face the fact that I would never have a child who looked like me, walked, laughed, or talked like me. It took another three or four years to realize that because my adopted children would never become a reflection of me, I needed to have a funeral in my head and lay these children of my dreams to rest.

4. I had to release my adoptive children to be Russians living in America.

It probably wasn’t until our oldest had lived on his own for a year or so, that I realized I had to allow each child to determine what parts of their Russian identity and what parts of their American/Johnson identity they wanted to claim for themselves.

5. I didn’t have to change who I was and become like them.

It was a hard tension to live with, but in time I came to a peace that my children were going to operate according to a very different set of values than mine. Instead of focusing on how we differed, I chose to focus on what we had in common. For several years I remember thinking the ties that bound us were single thread thin. But that’s where I started, and in time those cords have grown thicker.

I think we all have a subconscious longing for others to be just like us.

Frankly, I suspect this indicates we actually like who we are. But, it also an indicates that we’re not sure we’re suppose to. And so we look to the choices others around us make to affirm that we’re worth liking.

Aug 13 Mirror
Photo by Septian simon on Unsplash

Maybe the racism that hides deep inside of us is something we need to take an honest look at. Partly so we can learn to accept people for who they are. But more importantly so we can celebrate who we are. I strongly believe that before we can accept others, we have to start with ourselves. Maybe that’s why the Bible records in it’s very first chapter that …

God created man in His own image
(Genesis 1:27, NASB).

We are little representations of God Himself.

Don’t you think that’s something to appreciate? Something to show off?

And if God’s image is coded into our own DNA, it’s keyed into our children’s as well. It’s displayed in every single person. How fun would it be to start looking for the evidence of the Creator built into every life? What kind of difference would it make in our families if we made a daily practice of deciphering the expressed character of God in each member?

Something I should have done, and I suggest you do, is keep a journal of the things you appreciate about each child (and your spouse, or anyone you have a hard time liking). This will not only keep your focus positive, it will usher you into genuine worship of the Father.

Advertisements

Family, the Beautiful

What comes to your mind when you think about Independence Day?

I think about …

  • The brave who’ve fought, and died, for our freedom;
  • The stars and stripes swaying proudly at front doors;
  • Sizzling hot dogs, watermelon drenched grins, and homemade ice cream;
  • Parades, glow sticks, bug spray, and fireworks;
  • And a kaleidoscope of people from sea to shining sea.

July 3

We’ve so much to be grateful for. Don’t we? Abundant resources. Awe-striking landscapes. Amazing people.

We’re not perfect. Not by any means. But we sure are beautiful. Yes, we are!

What a great picture of our families.

We’re not perfect. Far too frequently we display our shameful ugliness: unyielding division, stinky attitudes, embarrassing ineptness, agonizing failures.

But ever so often we need to put all that aside and throw a party. Celebrate what we are together.

Rescued. Redeemed. Renamed.

Merciful. Hopeful. Strong.

Beautiful.

July 3 R&A citizenship

There will be more battles to fight, mountains of litter to discard, sturdier bridges to build, and necessary paths to clear.

But today is a good time to stand. From table-end to table-end, stretch wide and grasp tight. It’s a day to raise our anthem: God bless and guide our home sweet home … our family, the beautiful.

July 3 United.jpg

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

Psalm 133:1 (ESV)

 

 

When You’re Really Not Being Helpful to Your Teen, and How to Fix It

I’m so pleased to introduce you to brand new blogger, and veteran nonbio mom, LuAnn Kern. She’s currently in the middle of teenage messes with her two adoptive daughters. She writes clear and practical truths we can all employ. You’ll be encouraged by her words today. Head on over and check out her blog where she’s shares empowering insights.


I did it again.

My teenage daughter had been complaining for weeks, about some kids in her science class teasing her.

“Why do they have to keep mentioning that I’m adopted? That I’m from Guatemala? Why do they have to keep telling me I’m short? I know I’m short! I’m just sick of it.”

Cue the heart break.

I asked her if she wanted me to step in, talk to the principal. She said no, she’d manage, the school year was almost over. I promised I’d stay out of it; told her I’d pray for her.

But there’s only so much a mama can take,

… seeing her girl in anguish every night. Seeing how this treatment was weighing down on her spirit, was weighing down on mine.

May 29 LuAnn Kern

But I didn’t take it to God. Instead I took it to the principal.

Hit SEND.

He was quick to respond, said he’d talk with the other students. Offered to let her switch classes. I told him we’d get back to him.

Then I had to ‘fess up to my daughter.

“Mother, what did you DO?”

She handled it well, listened to my excuses, my explanations. Only said, “May I go to my room now.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised by such a mature, measured response from her. She may have trouble forgiving her classmates, but she can forgive me. Ah, the grace of a 14-year-old.

I haven’t mentioned it since. Neither has she. I know she’s trying to be independent; always has been. She wants to handle these types of things, but it can be so hard for a middle schooler. Just as hard for a loving mom to not step in and solve her problems. Maybe this is why adolescence is such a tough time for teens and parents. They’re trying to cast their own identity, apart from us.

And we’re needing to recast our identity,

… away from being a problem-solver and toward being a sounding board and a life coach.

We didn’t change her schedule. She still comes home frustrated. Some days are worse than others. She’s learning to navigate her way through it. I’m learning to listen better. To empathize more. To ask “what are you going to do?” instead of suggesting telling her what to do.

And I’m learning to pray harder for her.

Because, after all, isn’t that the best thing we can do for our teens?

May 29 I'm learning to pray harder.

When it comes to parenting our teens, let us rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12.12)


20170529 LuAnn KernLuAnn Kern is a writer and mother raising two teenage daughters who were both born in Guatemala. She knows first-hand that when adolescence hits an adopted child, it hits hard. In addition to a changing body and evolving emotions, adopted teens are searching for independence from not one but two sets of parents. To help share what God’s teaching her and her husband, she hosts the blog Ripples and Rip Tides: Raising Your Adopted Teen.