In support of National Adoption Month, we are honored to be sharing adoption stories and perspectives from moms in our community, as well as advice and insight from a Wichita attorney on how to handle the adoption process. Click here for more on our National Adoption Month series.
We are what you might call a “conspicuous family.”
Sheer numbers alone set us apart from the typical American family, and as you can see, it doesn’t stop there:
Allow me to introduce my tribe to you: Chris and I have been completely and madly in love for almost 25 years now (married for 21). We were blessed with two biological children – Ashleigh (19) and Austin (17). We were additionally blessed by the miracle of adoption and added four more children: Amy-Hui (11), Anna (10), Abraham (8) and Aubrie-Li (14).
The advent of our first adoption (2006) brought training, classes, and a myriad of adoption books. One of the required classes was about being a “conspicuous family”. We learned how to answer those who might inquire about our child and how we might thrive as a family amid the spotlight – whether it was welcome or not. As a result, we made our list of snappy comebacks to answer the “nosy-Nellies”, and felt empowered to answer any inquiry, all the while protecting our child.
Ten years later, I can say with all sincerity that I am thankful for our very conspicuous family. Not because I have all the right answers, but because I believe we are a testimony to the miracle of adoption. “Testimony” simply defined is “evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something.” My friend Jody Landers is quoted in adoption circles for saying this:
“A child born to another woman calls me Mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege is not lost on me.”
I breathe that miracle every day of my life. Five different women gave birth to my 6 children. God connected my heart to four children born half a world away. Adoption is the hope that broken lives can be restored; orphans become dearly loved daughters and sons.
I want to be careful that I am not misunderstood in saying that my brokenness has been restored. When our journey began, I didn’t even know I was broken…
I am the most selfish person I know. Ten years ago God stepped into my self-absorbed life and invited me to trust Him. He asked me to scoop up a tiny 25 month old in Guangzhou, China and commit to loving her forever and without condition. He guaranteed that I would be stepping out of my comfort zone. He didn’t ask me to meet her halfway. He asked me to go the full distance. What was required was selfless motherhood (we can all agree that those words are synonyms!) to a child that did not yet know I was her mother. She didn’t know me, didn’t trust me, didn’t care about me, and didn’t respond to me.
Four adoptions. Four stories. Four opportunities to lose more of myself and gain a greater understanding of brokenness restored.
I’m not sure that we ever used one of those snappy comebacks we drafted. Oftentimes people notice our conspicuous family and simply flash a smile. Sometimes the questions come: “Are they siblings?”, “Wasn’t that expensive?”, “Are they from China?” It’s easy to forget how educated my family has become in the last decade and how truly innocent the questions are. We try to err on the side of grace and defer to the four people in our family that make us conspicuous.
The world becomes a little smaller when we let strangers in. Our differences begin to unite us when we let our guard down and share our stories. I’m thankful for our “conspicuous” family and thankful for the four birth mothers in China who will forever hold a piece of my heart because I hold a piece of theirs. My family serves as a reminder to people that while our world is broken and children are orphaned and abandoned, redemption is only one “yes” away.
Tami Lakey and her tribe call Newton home. Tami is the strong willed momma to six strong willed kids – elementary thru college – and has been married to her high school sweetheart for 21 years. She is a Jesus follower and blogs about all things missions at missionalmrs.com