Thursday, March 20, 2014

We are a walking billboard......

 I guess I never thought about it much before we started fostering/adoption.  It never really worried me and yet it was something that happened.
 Now I joke around about it, but today I thought I would share my thoughts with you on being a walking billboard. 
 It is something that became apparent to us since our first official visit with Abigail.  We took her to Burger King so we could eat and play on the playset.  Come on people this was our first chance at being parents and we couldn't wait!  Couldn't wait to show her off to the world.  Couldn't wait for people to notice we were parents. 
 Couldn't wait to play with her on the indoor playset (since it was early March in Iowa and still pretty cold outside- that was before we got used to southern weather). 
 See.....this is a "hidden mickey".  They have them all over the theme parks.  Some a lot more obvious, and some more hidden.  This is your average family. 
 Blending in......sometimes really well.  There are even families that choose to keep it that way with adoption, and I can't say that I blame them.  After all it takes a lot to step out of the norm.  To take on your families (some of you do this daily - we never had that issue) and some of your families would even disown you completely for it :( and that is horrible.  Some people want a child that looks like them because that is the way it usually happens having children biologically :) and there is NOTHING wrong with that!!! 
 Well, needless to say on that first visit with Abigail....we found out quickly that we would not blend in anymore.  We heard right off the bat as we were in line with her to order our food, "look that white couple has a black child".  BAM!!! 
 We took it in our stride.  Didn't even jump across the restaurant and smack that person- which believe me we wanted to do that!!!!!  NOT JOKING!!!!!!!!!!! 
 Instead we talked about the incident.  It didn't slow us down or make us change our minds, but something in the back of our heads told us that we would never be the same.  That our family would never be the same.  That we would always stick out. 
 People that is well before we continued to add more children to our family!  That was when we had one child....who just happened to not have my skin color or my hair.  She didn't share eye color with my husband.
 As soon as we added even a couple more children it was even more obvious to people that we are a Target as we go out in public.  We are the family that people just can't stop looking at.  Oh and it is really funny when some of our summer staff members took our kiddos out to eat, or better yet when your mother in love and your staff member look after your kiddos while you fly out to do interviews - umm yeah. THAT was funny!  To hear them both go on about the stares....a younger man, older woman, and 3 children that looked nothing like either of them ;) he he he he he......HILARIOUS! 
 However, when it gets really personal.........that is when it gets tough!  Like with social workers who believe that dark skinned children shouldn't be in your home.  Or a CASA worker who says your children shouldn't be adopted by you because you just don't have enough pigment in your skin.  Or when your neighbor talks to your other neighbor and says...."better watch out they have a lot of black kids over there".  Or when you child hears the N word for the first time.  Or when boys come and say racist nasty remarks through the fence.  Or when your neighbor cusses at your children, and yells at them because you have "too many" children and they are not the right skin color! 

That will tear you apart!!!!!  That will eat you up for dinner!!!!!  BUT GOD!!!!!!! 
 You have to make a choice.  A very conscience choice right then and there to not take junk, but to do it in a way that is Christlike as well.  That is really hard.
 You see from the beginning we have taught our kiddos to know that when people stare at us there are several reasons: 

1) We obviously have drop dead gorgeous children!  It's true!  I mean who wouldn't stare at children who are so beautiful?

2) They are normally (ha normal isn't a word we use often, and doesn't mean it always happens) pretty awesomely behaved in public!!  People are amazed that they are polite and respectful. 
***Note to others:  If you see children acting wonderful in public - please compliment them.  You should see my children's eyes beam.  In the same breath when my children or other people's children are having a rough time- DO NOT CONDEMN and DO NOT STARE!  Children NEED a safe place, they need space, they have sooo many needs a lot of people do not understand....and that could be a whole separate post altogether. 
 3) Obviously now we drive a 15 passenger and have 9 children with one in a wheelchair.  One of our children is the same skin color and the others are obviously different shades.  We just don't fit any norm of any kind anymore.  So it's ok.  It just is.....
 BUT it still means we are a walking billboard! 
 It's like these flowers if you looked at all the flowers individually they would be beautiful, but together they look amazing with the patterns you can see across the lake.  I love it.  Sometimes people get this idea that they have the right to nose up in your business.  THAT STINKS!  Sometimes you get people who are going to hate.  THAT HURTS! 
One thing a walking billboard we always get the "floor" to speak to others in love about how GOD CREATED OUR FAMILY!  About our passion for families and children who need help!  About children across the street, single moms down the road, and families across the world that need THE CHURCH TO ARISE!  We "GET TO" share about our family and answer awkward questions over and over because it educates and helps others to change and shift their views. 

WE are a walking billboard.......that gets to share CHRIST with others who may have never asked about our faith or God, but we gladly get to tell them anyway! 

WE are a walking billboard that speaks volumes about the fact that skin color, physical and mental ability, and DNA doesn't determine family!!! 

THAT we can handle!  With God's amazing sense of grace and love to others who need to hear the Gospel of Love lived out through this very imperfect family. 

***NOTE:  I do not in any way condone those who ask awkward questions and are not respectful!  We have a generic way of telling our story that is not revealing, but still allows us to talk about adoption in a healthy way.  We do talk with our children often about sharing our story with others, and want their input.  We also don't put up with nasty comments that hurt our children's feelings!  It is so very important to allow your children to tell you when they are uncomfortable, or when their feelings have been hurt.  It is also important to talk together how and when to share things as a family!  :)


  1. The stares don't even faze me anymore :) When the kids were little, people would ask me if I had any room in my daycare for their kids.

  2. So beautiful!! Thank you for sharing this Dawn. Your mindset with this is such a healthy way to live. I want to be like you!! :) Thanks for being an awesome family!