I was eavesdropping. I confess. My boys were having a discussion that was quickly escalating. My youngest was asking his older brother to just ignore someone asking if they were brothers and where my youngest “came from.” They are of different ethnicities but are brothers in every other way. They trash their room together, argue, giggle, scheme, wrestle, occasionally play peacefully, and love just like typical brothers. But now that the younger brother is at the same grade school, the older brother’s classmates have begun to ask questions. Younger brother does not want to be different than the rest of the family, and older brother doesn’t want to be rude to classmates. Finally, it was time for me to step in.
We sat in a huddle in their bedroom to discuss the situation. Younger brother had the opportunity to explain to older brother that he wants to just be known as a DesCarpentrie, not as someone “different.” Older brother asked how he was supposed to answer questions about his younger brother’s obvious ethnicity without being rude. I was the moderator while the boys brainstormed different responses until we came up with one that satisfied all parties: “Yes, he is my brother, and he is American just like us!” We also agreed that if someone persisted, it was okay to explain politely that this was our family’s private business.
In the past, my younger son has been very proud of his heritage and how he came into our family. We have been able to share with others the beauty of our son’s adoption, as well as our adoption into God’s family. But we realize that sometimes he yearns to be just like everyone else and respect that desire. We discussed how adoption is a very special design for a family and not something to be ashamed of. I pulled out a letter from former President George W. Bush welcoming my son as a citizen of the United States of America. He beamed as I read the letter and explained that he was the only member of our family to receive a letter from the White House.
I reminded my young son of the similarities among our family. He likes to sleep in and wake up slowly like his mama. He considers ketchup a meal in itself like his grandma. He has a great imagination like his sister and brother. He has black hair like his daddy. His foster sister has brown eyes just like him. We discussed how God has brought our children into our family through birth, adoption, and foster care, and, most importantly, how we are all His children regardless of race or country of origin. Christ’s love is what makes us a family!