Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When rescuing is not enough...

In my spare time (while driving, cooking and cleaning etc. etc. ) I have created t-shirt designs on paper that would be helpful to my family. (with the hope that my children will never have to wear them!)

My latest t-shirt says: 
Front: " Keep calm and don't rescue me. " 
Back: " I already belong to a family that loves me."  

A couple months ago, Sol, myself and our kids were hanging out at our local bookstore to escape from the 100 degree weather.  My 4 boys stepped to the side to check out the children's books while our girls decided to sit next to us in the cafe and have a little snack.  One of our daughters was humming a tune while our other daughter sat staring off into space.  Before we knew it,  a couple " concerned customers" decided to " check us out" and question (interrogate) us and our girls:
" What are your names? How old are you? Are they your daughters? Why is she staring at me like that? Why are they not reading? Where are they from???
Since when is it socially appropriate to walk up to a stranger and question them let alone talk to your children without your permission?  Why do people think that our business is theirs?  
About 15 minutes later , 2 police officers walked in and approached our girls (apparently they had been called by a "concerned customer") They spoke to our girls and then pulled Sol aside.  
After a few questions, Sol took the police to our other boys who were sitting between piles of books listening to their youngest brother read. 
The police took one look at our 4 boys and replied with a warm smile " You have more of them?? " 
" I can tell they are clean, well fed, loved and cared for - there is absolutely no need for us to be here." - their affirming voices echoed throughout the entire store.  
Thankfully, our 12 years of loyalty to this bookstore paid off and the store manager apologized repeatedly.  
But still... - they could have prevented this... 
My 9 year old biological son wouldn't let it go -  he couldn't understand why someone would call the police just because his sisters weren't reading books. 

As I've shared this story to several friends/peers - the common response is 
" Just shrug it off, Chris. -   you guys are great parents... that "concerned customer" had her own issues. " 
But what is most often forgotten is that we experience this on a frequent basis and it is deeply traumatizing to us.  It is unfortunate that some of my adopted children have learned the success of gaining this type of negative attention.  

Truthfully, it's painful and frustrating to watch.  It's absolutely not fair to our adopted children when strangers, peers, friends feed into their "orphan, rescue me" handicap. 
It paralyzes them. They suddenly forget who they belong to and become blinded by their past as their "orphan identity" begins to haunt them over and over again.  
They have been disillusioned by a "rescue minded" society.  
Unfortunately, every single time a stranger, police or "well intended" friend has stepped into "help" - our family suffers.  And it never seems to stop.  

Recently a close friend advised me to " call 911" if harassed by a "concerned stranger." 
Perhaps I should.... but what about friends, teachers that have tried to "rescue" our children and suddenly turn their back on us thinking "they know better."  
I think I can ask this question for ourselves as well as the adoptive families who walk the same road as us: " Why are my children everyone's business? "  
There may be a tone of frustration in that question - as there should be.  
But I sincerely want to know why.

Rescuing children was not our motivation to adopt. We never aspired to be heroes. 
 Healing, restoring and educating children from hard places to live well and 
be part of a loving family is what drove us to adopt.  

I'll admit...I stepped out of my comfort zone to voice out my frustration, but I know I'm not the only one that struggles like this.  I can genuinely speak for a handful of adoptive families that I know who would stand with me in our disappointment.  If only "concerned people" would leave us alone - perhaps it would help with our children's healing, security and attachment struggles. They would no longer be confused but instead consistently know who loves them and resist jumping into the next arms that "reach out to them. "

Most of the time I feel like I am drowning in other people's judgements and ignorant comments. I then cast judgements on myself until I realize that each day God will fix what I couldn't fix and heal what I couldn't mend.  I did the best I could do.


         People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  
Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, alterior motives. 
 Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  
Be honest and sincere anyway.
           What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. 
 Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  
Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  
Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  
Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  
It was never between you and them anyway.
- Mother Teresa