David and Daniel have been a part of our family for five months now. After three months in the US, we’ve been back home in Lanzhou for almost two weeks. This past week I’ve had two almost identical conversations with strangers—one with David at the grocery store and one at the park with Daniel:
他是你的儿子吗? Is he your son?
对, 他是我的儿子. Yes, he is my son.
他像一个亚洲人. He looks like an Asian.
是不是他爸爸是一个中国人? Is his father Chinese?
不, 他爸爸也是一个白皮肤的. No, his father is also white-skinned.
And thankfully that was enough. There were no other follow up questions. Maybe because adoption is so uncommon in Lanzhou, most people don’t even have that concept in their thinking or that word in their vocabulary. So these conversations have left the Chinese strangers thinking that some kind of genetic mix-up has given two white skinned people two sons who look more like them than like us.
I don’t know for sure how a further conversation about our adopting David and Daniel from the Lanzhou orphanage would make them feel, but I can guess that those extra potential questions and comments would be awkward and embarrassing.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“Why didn’t his parents want him?”
“How fortunate for that poor boy to have a family now.”
At the grocery store after I answered that David’s father wasn’t Chinese, I looked down at David who was smiling up at me. I returned his smile and my heart felt glad. I thought about God’s words spoken over Jesus at his baptism. “This is my Son whom I love, with whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
That’s what I want to communicate about David and Daniel when people ask about them. Not just “Yes, this is my son,” but through my attitude, words, and actions the added words of blessing and affirmation. So that they would know—without a doubt—how beloved they are and how pleased I am with them. Both on their good attitude days and their bad attitude days. When they are easy to love and when they are not so easy to love. That God would help me to be consistent, not condemning, finding the right balance of gentle and firm, forgiving, accepting, loving and merciful.
As David and I walked back from the grocery store together, we passed by the place under the bridge where I bought peaches last summer. The place where God reminded me that He doesn’t pick over people the way I picked over the bruised and “bad” peaches. As we walked, I remembered how I wrote about having met David and Daniel at the orphanage and how I had the feeling that they wanted to give us the “right” answers when Charly and I asked them questions. How I hoped that they could be real, to be themselves in our family, and not feel like they had to change to become acceptable—that our home would be a safe place for them, a place where they could blossom in their identity as Abba’s children.
As God is helping me these days to not communicate a message of condemnation, I realize that I need to take my focus off the bruised and bad spots of these two precious peaches so that I can daily thank God for them and communicate that these are my sons “whom I love, with whom I am well-pleased.”