Last night Van, Karis, and I were shopping for shoes. It was taking a while because we were having trouble making up our minds, so we saw several other people come and go. Only one couple that came by didn't comment on Karis. Now I know that a lot of this comes from her being a baby. I get that, however, we definitely make people curious. I can tell that they are just trying to work it all out in their minds. Last night though, was what I would consider a good encounter. You see, the shoe guy (I don't want to use his real name) was very attentive, and I could tell that he had taken an interest in us but didn't really know what to say. (I'm getting pretty good at reading this look.) After we had made our selections and were going to head to check out, he stopped us. He was apologetic about being so personal, but then basically laid on us that he and his wife were having fertility issues and was just really wanting to ask us about adoption. We then proceeded to spend the next 5-10 minutes educating him on the different adoption agencies in Memphis and how the finances work and different resources that we knew of. Honestly, I loved it. I thought it was a very sweet way to minister to this man who was clearly going through a hard time. I think that our little family gave him hope, and that makes me really happy. That's what I want from our visibility. Well, that and to point people to the gospel, but that is a whole other post (or four).
Then you have the complete other side of the grocery store encounters.
Today: I had to run to Kroger to pick up one thing. I was kind of in a hurry, and Karis was not in a good mood due to her four month shots that she received yesterday. We were standing in the dairy section, when from across the way I hear someone very loudly say, "Someone gave that girl the wrong baby!" At that point my pulse began to race because I knew this could go poorly (as if it already hadn't), but I didn't want to encourage so I pretended to not hear. She continued, "That baby doesn't match, she's the wrong color. That baby matches me, not her." At this point, I sneak a peek. It is an older lady talking to a little boy, and she is walking our way. Still loudly, "I just have to check this out." To me, "Where did you get her? It's a she right?" Now at this point I almost said, "it's the one they gave me at the hospital, Why?" But that wouldn't have been helpful, so I took the meek road, although I'm not sure it was the right one, and just said, "We adopted her." At which point the lady looked at Karis and said. "And she's going to give you a good life, in the name of Jesus." I said, "Yes, ma'am I am," trying to get away. But she continued and asked me her name, then gave me a lecture about how no one would know her color by her name that her mama would have named her Shaniqua or something like that and then people would know where she came from, etc. Finally I ended up getting away, but I was exhausted and wondered if it was worth the milk that we had gone to pick up, but mostly thankful that Karis wasn't old enough to understand or worry about how "we don't match" and become insecure about it. We have a big job on our hands in order to set our little girl up as secure and happy in who God has made her to be, a little black girl in a white home. (In Memphis no less)
I think I might start sharing our encounters like this, so that you can see them from our point of view, the people who stand out, and then maybe share some ideas on how you can appropriately and sensitively interact with others who stand out, at the grocery store or anywhere else.
When we first began looking into adoption we were told that we would have to be the world's teachers on adoption. I am beginning to see how that is true. Can I teach you?