For 31 Days I am blogging about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts here. During this series I have invited guest bloggers to share their personal stories. This final day, Brianna shares her reflections on Adopting Intentionally. Thank you, Brianna for sharing your beautiful story as it unfolds.
I sometimes marvel at the beauty and richness of my family. I’m your typical Heinz 57 American, with a mixture of Belgian, English, Scottish, and German ancestry. However, I am an Air Force brat who has lived in seven different states and visited all 50. Either because of my upbringing in a military house or due to my God-given personality, I love adventure, traveling into the unknown and seeing new places, meeting new people. My husband is 100% Asian Indian with a Middle Eastern flair since he was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates who now travels all over the world selling educational robotics kits. Our biological son is a beautiful mix of the two of us, with an exuberant love of life and outgoing personality. Our adopted daughter is also 100% Asian Indian with a joyful heart and avid curiosity about the world around her. On top of these different ethnic cultures we add the kingdom culture, living life in the world as God has called us according to the Spirit’s leading and His word in the scriptures.
My family was formed by intentional choices. My husband and I intentionally chose to marry. That was not as easy as it sounds, but that’s a story for another time. We are still married 12.5 years later only because we intentionally choose each and every day to devote energy to loving God, loving each other, and working as a team. We intentionally chose to conceive and give birth to Ethan. Again, it wasn’t as easy as that sounds, but thankfully God knew what He was doing when He led us down that path. And after much prayer and discussion and time, we intentionally chose to adopt Nayami.
When we are in public, I wonder how people see us. Are we all biologically related since Mohit is Indian and I’m white and we have one of each? Are we a blended family – Mohit and I remarried with children from previous marriages/relationships? Is Nayami the biological child and Ethan adopted, or is it the other way around? More often than not it’s just me with the kids, so it’s been fairly obvious that Nayami is adopted and then it’s assumed that Ethan is biological. In fact, I met the manager of Costco’s bakery when he asked how long I had had Nayami. A little surprised he was so forthright as that was his first question, he explained he and his wife had adopted from China and were leaving in two weeks to pick up their second child from China. Along with the questions about adoption and the process and the adjustments now that we are home, there are always questions about Nayami’s hand (and leg if she is wearing shorts). This is to be expected as she is missing all the fingers on her right hand, and we never mind people’s honest, thoughtful questions. We simply explain she had a childhood accident and her fingers had to be amputated and her leg fixed. Adults usually accept that, but kids want more of the details. I’ve had to use a phrase I learned from one of the many webinars I watched, “That’s something we only discuss at home.” Nayami’s story is just that…it’s her story. She can share whatever details she wants when she chooses. The adoption process is our story, and we are always willing to share in order to help educate and encourage others in their own journey.
At home, there’s been beauty amidst the challenges in adjusting to a family of four. It’s definitely different having a biological child and an adopted child. When you carry a child for nine months, you begin to make predictions on his personality even before birth. If he kicks a lot, he’ll be quite active and into sports, maybe even a professional soccer player. If she calms down when music is played, she must be musical, maybe a singer or world-renown violin virtuoso. Then after birth you see glimpses of personality as they grow and develop so that not a lot of who they are is a surprise; it’s just natural. With Nayami, however, it’s all a surprise and a wonder. She’s an organizer. She wouldn’t leave our hotel room that first week unless all the shoes were neatly lined up under the cabinet and all the papers/books/luggage were neatly stacked on the shelves. When playing with her kitchen set at home, she first removed each piece and organized it based on type, size, and color before deciding to open a restaurant and feed Ethan and me. She is neat and clean. She immediately puts her shoes in the closet when we get home and never has to be reminded to throw her clothes in the laundry basket when she undresses at night. She is eager to help. I can’t leave the refrigerator door open to take out more than one round of containers as she is quick to close it for me, same with the microwave, or the bathroom cabinets, or the garage door. She is teachable, adaptable. It only took three nights for her to learn how to open her mouth to brush the backside of her teeth. She knows what goes in the trash versus the recycle bin. The first time on our strider (a pre-bike with no pedals) she insisted on riding it all the way around the block, despite numerous falls and zig-zagging around. We wonder how many of these traits are innate. Are they learned from orphanage life or are they a temporary response to living in a new culture and home? We expect a storming period where she tests us to see whether she is truly secure as a member of our family, whether that unconditional love we talk about is real. I wonder how many of these traits we see will survive that or will she be a totally different person when she is finally comfortable being an Abraham.
It’s been beautiful seeing Ethan and Nayami adjust to each other. Ethan has been an only child for five and a half years, although the idea of being a big brother has percolated in his mind for three of those years. Now he is learning what that actually means. While many kids his age experience this change, most of the time they learn how to be a sibling gradually, growing into the role as a new baby grows and develops. Not Ethan. His new sister is only five months younger than he is, able to speak and show off and claim toys and demand attention with the best of them. He has prayed for and prepared for her for so long, he takes his role as big brother very seriously. He loves to teach her how to take a bath, how to speak English, how to read, how to play games with the Kinect, etc. He is quick to make sure she is safe when she doesn’t understand to not run into the street before looking both ways for cars or ensure she doesn’t remove her seat belt before the car is parked. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve seen the ugly face of jealousy and Ethan’s competitive nature come out in not-so-pretty ways. But when that happens, we talk about how he’s feeling, how Nayami might be feeling being in a new culture, new language, new environment, and pray that God enables us how to treat each other with love, grace, and compassion.
We’ve been on this journey so long, it’s a little surreal to finally have all of us in one place. It’s a new season in our life, one that holds its own challenges and opportunities to grow but also allows for so much joy and celebration. While being present in the now, we are excited to see what God has in store for us in the future. We follow Him willingly, with open hands, open hearts, and open doors, knowing that His will is far better than anything we could ever hope for or imagine.