November 27, 2007

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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