Foolish Things

I’m starting to understand that some people will never get why we are adopting.

And on some level, that’s OK. I can’t claim to understand why other people do all the things they do, either.

I’ve written before about some of the things my daughter has already taught me, about the things that this process is teaching me. But I’ve recently realized that one of the big lessons is to not take things personally.

And man, is that ever hard for a people-pleaser like me.

Some people hide their disapproval beneath a veil of mile-wide smiles. It only seeps out in little droplets that they quickly brush away, stray words here or there that make it clear what they’re thinking — but you better believe that if asked directly, they’d deny to the death that anything negative ever crossed their minds.

We southern women are particularly skilled at that style of communication.

Other people say the right things, like, “Wow. That’s great.” But the right words are accompanied by body language and facial expressions that make it obvious they’re thinking that we’re certifiably nuts.

And then they quickly change the subject.

Still others seem genuinely supportive of adoption. Until they discover how old our daughter is (she just turned 11). Or that she’s from Uganda. You can almost see a physical struggle as they try to wrap their minds around the fact that a white family would voluntarily welcome an older black child into their hearts and home.

They’re almost always the ones who then launch into a story about their mother’s best friends’ cousin who adopted an older orphan who burned down the house and now sits in jail.

Because, you know, it’s really helpful to share those stories because maybe we’ve never considered that there’s some risk involved in adopting an older child.

(There’s risk involved? Wow–who knew???)

But sarcasm aside, if I’m honest, there are times it doesn’t make sense to me, either.

The water pump on my minivan went out yesterday and my husband’s car needed two new tires a week ago. Ideally, there would be substantial savings to make sure things like that don’t impact the daily budget. But, like most people we know, they do make an impact and we have to creatively flex funds to cover it all. There are times that it seems all the kids need something from us all at once and I question whether we’re up to the task.

But then I look at everything we have, as I did in this post, and know that we’re OK. I trust in the impartial social worker’s judgement that our family will be just fine.

Of course, the naysayers jump on their perception of our assets–material and otherwise–and they shake their heads at that, too.

It’s an odd and difficult place to be, when making a very public decision opens yourself up to everybody-and-their-brother’s criticism.

One Bible verse pops up in my mind a lot these days. It’s from 1 Corinthians 1, about how God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. I especially like it in The Message translation:

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”?

I’m fully aware that in the eyes of the world, my family is not anywhere near “high-society”. We’re basically nobodies who aren’t very influential.

Or could we be?

Because if God uses the weak, foolish things of this world to make a statement, I’d say we fully meet those qualifications. It’s pretty darn exciting to be on this side of it, waiting to see what He’s going to accomplish.

To those of you who get that, who understand this journey, you dear, precious people who have already embraced this little girl into your hearts; all of you who got goosebumps and celebrated with us, who’ve helped us make sense of the senseless, who have stood beside us firmly, in prayer and with every kind of support, YOU, my fellow “fools” — are treasures.

And in this week of Thanksgiving, know that I’ll never find enough words to convey to you our gratitude and love.

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  1. Who cares what ANYONE else thinks?! That little girl needs a family, and your family just happens to have a place for a little girl! I commend your bravery and faith in this journey to save a life, and while sacrifices will be made, they are YOUR sacrifices, and will ultimately make this union all the more Godly and all the more fulfilling for all of you! Twenty years from now, this will be a story of faith and divine intervention that many people will share and delight in. Even the ones who don’t agree now, will suddenly jump on board when they see that this is all meant to be. Perhaps they are just negative because they know that deep down inside they don’t have the strength that you possess that would allow them to ever make such a difference in the world.

    1. Wow, Haylie–I don’t know what to say to such a powerful comment, but I thank you for the encouragement–and for being one of the ones I mention who’s always had our back on this. You’re a blessing!

  2. You know, Kari, I read your article and was astounded at how much thought you had put into that piece. How much observation you had made of your friends. And, understandably, at times you seemed to question yourself, but quickly “believed” you are doing the right thing. Well, you didn’t ask for my five cents worth (adjusted for inflation) but here it is for free, anyway. Kari, you and Donnie did something so very few people do these days. You listened to the Spirit when it quietly put the seed in your ear to adopt a child … from wherever, at what ever age, from what ever life circumstance. That is a true adoption. We don’t get the luxury of picking and choosing “that perfect child” if we are truly opening our hearts and our homes to the child. The luck of the draw is part of the adventure. But, Kari, you all listened to Spirit and then did His bidding and THAT is the secret to success. There will be financial strains; we all have them. And, sadly, no matter what we do, there will always be so-called friends around that look us in the face and say one thing when they haven’t a real bone in their body while really mean something else. But, those folks wouldn’t know Spirit if He slapped them down. You listened and you acted and that alone should be your trophy. The good book slappers will tell you if it is God’s will, then He’ll support it and on that issue I agree with them. If He can get you to it, He’ll get you through it. So, while there are money concerns and then all the comments from folks that purport to be your friend, just keep a mental note of who your real friends are. And, by real, I mean honest. But, no matter what, you quietly heeded the whisper of Spirit and THAT is the greatest gift of all. There may be some bumpy roads, but you and Donnie will get there just fine. Here’s wishing all the blessings of our Creator on your journey for a safe deliverance of your Ugandan Pearl to Georgia and for a new found happiness like you’ve never known before. Of anyone I know, YOU TWO deserve it. Wishing you peace .. no matter what the naysayers say! 🙂

    1. Randy, you are such a sweetheart and I thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. You brought me to tears, my “sideboard” friend. 🙂 I’m so grateful God allowed our paths to cross and connect. You have a wise gentleness that has more than once been a blessing to me. Thanks again.