Monday, August 22, 2011

Not an Adoption Story...or is it?

Well, this isn't an adoption story.  Except that it is. Let me explain.

When we first started meeting people in the adoption community, I was immediately struck with how genuine everyone seemed.  Imagine walking into an event knowing no one (not even the host) and immediately feeling at home, having great conversations with every random person you happen bump into while chasing your kids around a stranger's home.  That was our first experience and has been every subsequent experience when we've gotten together with other adoptive families.

And I realized something about people in the adoption community. When you are willing to change your definition of "family" to include those who might not carry your same DNA, something happens to your ability to be open to friendships too. I've connected quickly with people in the adoption community even when it would seem unlikely that a friendship would begin!

But that's not just limited to adoption.  I have a friend who opened her heart to another family, a refugee family from Vietnam, and when she shared her story at church the other day, I was in tears the entire time.  I immediately asked her if I could share her story on the blog.

This is an adoption story. Not the legal sense, but my friend adopted a family and that family adopted her in return. It is amazing what happens when we stretch just a little bit and open our hearts to those who are different from us.

Here is her story, in her own words:

Four years ago, an American woman sat in a church very different from her regular church.  It was a hot, humid, and rainy Sunday in May.  There was no air conditioning but the room was packed.  The woman was the tallest person there and the only one with blonde hair and white skin.  The service was all spoken in a language she did not understand.  At the end of the service a new family to the U.S. was introduced to the congregation.  There were 6 children in matching green rain coats, their mom and their dad.  Their eyes were big and scared. The moment the woman saw them, something stirred inside her.  She wanted to know this family...these strangers from Vietnam.
A few weeks later, the woman managed to get the family to her house for what turned out to be a very quiet dinner.  The new immigrants did not know how to eat the spaghetti she had prepared for them and they had difficulty communicating.  The woman was disappointed.  She felt the evening had been a failure.  Still something inside her pushed her to pursue the R’mah family.
But the woman was naive. She underestimated their needs.  She overestimated her ability to meet them.  

She messed up.  
She felt overwhelmed.   

You see she thought she could help them without it costing her very much.  She was wrong.  Yet nothing other than the birth of her two boys has brought her more joy! She experienced so much!  She watched the mother skin and clean a deer on her kitchen floor.  She witnessed the miracle of surgery to fix their son’s facial birth defect, a surgery he could never have received in Vietnam; and she tied an umbilical cord with her shoe lace when the mother couldn’t make it to the hospital and had her baby at home.
Through everything, the American woman was amazed and humbled by the faith and courage of this family.  Their faith had cost them so much....their home, their extended family, their whole way of life.  The father, Tona, lived in the jungles of Cambodia running for his life.  The mother, D’joan, took care of all 6 of her children, and worked, while Tona was hiding.  It would be three years before they would be together again in the U.S. where Tona would see his 3 year old son for the first time.  All because they were Christians.
The family taught the woman valuable lessons.  She learned that she could not change and grow without changing who she spent time with and the experiences that resulted.   Because as Henri Nouwen wrote, "You don't think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking." 
The woman’s life, as well as the lives of her family and friends, has been enriched in a way that only God could design. All because two mothers, across the world were praying at the same time.  One in a rice field in Vietnam, asking God for someone (a stranger) to help her family when she came to the U.S. The other in the suburbs of Greensboro, NC asking God to send her someone (a stranger) to help.   

I am thankful He answered both.

The Rmah family, taken when they were all together in Vietnam

This is how God makes a family!

Laurie's boys!

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