Learning to embrace the words “I don’t know” as part of our transethnic adoptions

i-dont-knowAs an educated, strong willed, successful American woman the words “I don’t know” have only recently started falling comfortably into my conversations. When I commit to do things I carefully count the costs and regularly have contingency plans — and because of the number of daily decisions it takes to run our family, there hasn’t been much room for the phrase “I don’t know.”

Looking back over recent years I can see that an important part of God’s plans for shaping me include knocking off my ‘sharp edges’ of competency and developing my heart in such a way that He could be seen in me at all times by giving me unanswerable questions through our adoptions. Some of those questions come from outside my home: “How can you teach them to live in the Black culture?” “What will you do if they don’t bond?” “What if their birth parents show up?”

Hard ones … but not as hard as those that originate within our own walls.

Like the ones in my head: “What if they can’t ever learn to read, because of prenatal exposures?” or “How can I answer the questions that small children ask about why their birth parents couldn’t ‘keep’ them?” And the ones at my dinner table: “Mom, when will I start getting White like you?” or “Do you love me as much as them?” or “Why did I have to be Black?” Being who I am, I have answers that might serve in the minute. But the truth is, I don’t know the whole deep answers; only God does and I have to do my best, but I know I will fall woefully short and need to turn their eyes back to Jesus.

In these moments I find myself saying over and over again “I don’t know, sin is so real.” Or “I don’t know, but I will trust in God.” Or “I don’t know, but I am willing to suffer with them and stand with them in Christ’s name.” I used to think “I don’t know” was a weak answer. Today I can say that there is nothing stronger as long as it means “I don’t know, but God does and I trust His plans to unfold in my life because I love Him.”

I think that’s my new offering for the refrigerator display. Mixed in with the collection of finger paintings, love notes and technical drawings that my brood produces, a daily reminder that “I don’t know, but God does!”


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