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“Wearing the Shoes of Adoption” by Kiersten Trainia

May 30, 2013

I was so blessed when my dear friend (and former client) Kiersten sent this to my inbox. In the adoption community, it is easy to be offended by the many questions asked about our children. For some reason, we expect people to know how to ask, and ask their questions in the most politically correct way. However, many times they are asked in inappropriate ways, most of the time out of ignorance, not intent to hurt. I encourage you as adoptive parents, to open your hearts to Kiersten’s wise perspective about using those questions to educate about adoption and share the gospel, instead of pulling out the sarcastic response that might so easily come to our lips. 

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You can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear, or, at least you can infer a great deal. When I see someone with worn, scuffed cowboy boots my mind jettisons to Wyoming, where our daughter’s namesake has run a cattle ranch for years. Dusty dirt roads, giant cottonwoods along a dry riverbed, cattle guards and barbed wire round out what I see in a person with boots. In another part of the country, four inch, gladiator style platforms immediately remind me of my best friend whose shoe collection has helped with her guest blog posts on fashion for High School girls.

We shop for shoes that fit our personalities, and we often find a sense of satisfaction when someone notices a new pair and comments on them. We would think nothing of responding to a stranger who said, “I love your shoes! Where did you get them?” and our answers would range from Zappos or Piperlime, Payless or Nordstrom or one of the many other options open to us as shoe lovers. We tend to dress for people to notice and it doesn’t affect us in the least when they do.

As I’ve been thinking about adoption lately and one of the things that keeps running through my head are the number of seemingly invasive questions I get asked everywhere I go. I will admit a total bias in the following comment, but my daughter is an amazingly beautiful chocolate baby. I, on the other hand, round out the other end of the spectrum as a red head with freckles. When we are out together, adoption flips through everyone’s mind with no provocation other then the color of our skin. And, as such, I am guaranteed to hear, “Where did you get her”, “Did you adopt”, “Is it expensive” each time we go out together. After the third or fourth time I’m asked where we got her, I’m tempted to respond with, “Aisle six, but go quickly, they’re running low”.

But then with the tiny twinge that only a conviction by the Holy Spirit can produce, I am reminded of what I was like as we began to considered adoption. If I saw a couple who had clearly adopted, I was drawn to them. I would find myself staring at their baby and be filled with a desire to ask them questions and get to know them even though I may have never seen them before in my life. I felt like I had something in common with them even though it was only a future hope. And so, rather then talk to an adoptive couple, I would shy away because I was afraid it was presumptuous and, in truth it probably was. However, this unwillingness on my part to allow for the potential of embarrassment meant that when my husband and I began the process of adoption we didn’t know where you adopted from or how much a baby cost or, well really anything about anything.

I sometimes wonder, “What if someone had been open to answering my questions and transparent regarding the difficulties and joys of adoption”? Would I have been more prepared or perhaps not have doubted myself so much in the process. Would I have begun to develop friendships with likeminded individuals so that when we were matched and handed our little one in an 18 hour time frame I would have had someone to talk to who understood?

Ask any Christian adoptive family and they will say adoption is about redemption and, if you have time, press them to explain it. They will walk you through the gospel as it parallels their child’s adoption story. It is the easiest way to tell the story of God’s love for His children all while holding a tangible representation of who we are in His arms.

It is no accident that our little one is in our family and that we have many differing physical characteristics. More people are drawn to ask us about adoption then if she had matching red hair and little brown freckles sprinkled across the bridge of her nose. I’m still asked the same questions each day, but I’ve begun to look at them as opportunities to educate people on adoption as well as sharing with them the gospel story.

Dave and I chose to wear the “shoes of adoption” and I’ve begun to think my reaction to questions needs to change from annoyance to one of desiring to share our story and all that God has done. If every interaction we have is ordained to happen, then our response to these divine appointments should be that of showcasing God in our lives. Much like a compliment on our shoes, we should take pride and be joyful that we are being asked about our sweet children because it opens up a door to share the gospel on a platform that we are extremely familiar with.

I’ll probably still answer, “Aisle six” in my head because salvation never comes at a time when the groceries are put away, the sweet kid is bed, the laundry is folded AND put away and I’ve finished emptying out the dishwasher. No, it happens in the pasta aisle when, while trying to figure out if whole wheat pasta is worth it, you realize that you’ve forgotten your diaper bag in the car and thus a diaper meaning you’ll have to put the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream back in the freezer section so it doesn’t melt. That, my friends, is when the young woman will come up to you and tentatively ask if you’ve adopted. Because, let’s be honest, there really is no other way to start that conversation. What if, instead of rushing to “Aisle Six” in your mind, you just stopped and answered her question with your emphasis on her rather then yourself? She may have just come from the doctor who has leveled the devastating news that she will never have biological children regardless of how desperately she wants them. And, from this desperation comes a complete baring of her soul in that she will ask a total stranger, “Where did you get her” not because she’s being impertinent but because she would give anything to be the one answering that question.

As our sweet little one gets older and begins to understand the questions directed to us, our answers will begin to take that comprehension into consideration. Our emphasis will always be her protection but we have to remember, the story of redemption will always be tightly woven throughout our story; and stories beg to be told. Though we aren’t there yet, we’ve begun to pray that God would give us the words to say and the patience to say them as we walk forward down this path God has called us in regards to this beautiful, tangible telling of HIS story through the life of our little one.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. lesly barnes permalink
    May 30, 2013 3:05 pm

    what a gorgeous family!

  2. May 30, 2013 6:18 pm

    LOVE these people and LOVE your words Kiersten! 🙂

  3. JBrady permalink
    May 30, 2013 10:11 pm

    Wonderfully expressed! My daughter and I were just having this exact conversation. It has been our conviction to ascribe good intentions to even the most questionable remarks and we have yet to be disappointed. People are drawn to love and to family and many have this yearning in their hearts, too. I am reminded of a line from Sara Groves song:”if we go looking for offense we’re gonna find it”. The converse can be true too.

  4. June 11, 2013 5:54 am

    love you Kiersten

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