I have one of those families that turn heads. I usually don’t notice. I am too busy shooshing everyone because we are also very loud. But every now and then I notice people have no clue what to make of us and look at us quite perplexed. I am the mother of 6 kids. We are a family of 8.
My husband was raised in NYC and is Jewish by culture. I am literally a candidate for the Daughters of the American Revolution. Originally from Illinois, I am related to John Adams. My two birth kids, Samantha 19 and Andrew 13 are a combination of my Jewish husband and myself. Then there are my three Ethiopian children (Grace 12, Ella, 9 and Jared, 8 ) adopted in 2008. Our baby Matea is 5, adopted from Guatemala as an infant in 2005. We have at least four distinct cultures in our household: Jewish, German/Welsh/Irish, Ethiopian and Guatemalan. We are all Christians.
My Jewish husband converted to Christianity after our first son was born in 1997. As a Jew he believes that Christ is the Messiah discussed in the Old Testament. As Christians we hope to teach our children how to reflect Christ by showing love and compassion to all (especially those less fortunate, homeless, sick or destitute). We visit church every week, worship as a family and spend time in fellowship with Christians from all types of cultural backgrounds. It isn’t uncommon for us to have a potluck inviting our Nigerian, Ugandan or Chinese Christian friends. Together we discuss how the message of the gospel has impacted people in each of their countries. Our faith has helped to unify us as a multicultural family because Christ himself associated outside of his strict Jewish background in embracing lepers, gentiles and non-Jews. Although we are Christian, we too have friends of many other religious backgrounds as well.
Recently on our way to Florida, we stopped at a Denny’s off the highway. We were given a table in the middle of the restaurant. There was an obvious hush in the restaurant as heads turned and people stared. The waitress asked the most commonly asked question that we hear, “These all yours?” The kids, though having been raised on injera, shiro and guacamole baby food, all ordered chicken nuggets.
My kids don’t really notice the stares. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.” They are clearly sisters and brothers. They don’t really understand why some people think our family is unusual. All my children know is that this is their family. We are all in love with Ethiopia, Guatemala, Israel and America. My kids don’t think it is strange to have a white mother and a Jewish father. The only people who notice or question are those who live in communities that have never invited a person of color to their side of town or into their homes. We rarely travel into those communities but would love to have a chance to educate people living in them.
As Christians, we are taught that we are adopted by God as his children through Christ. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-4:7)
The scripture also tells us that adoption is very close to God’s heart. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27; New Living Translation)
My kids don’t think of their brothers or sisters as their “adopted” brothers and sisters. Just as Martin Luther King Jr. desired to be the “white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law,” we would like to believe that we are seen simply as an American family not as a family-in-law. We didn’t become a family only by way of paperwork or law but by way of our hearts. Our children were birthed to us in a very deep and profound way through love.
We believe that our family represents more accurately what America is all about in our diversity and rich blend of cultures all under one roof. We also believe our family represents what a Christian family should aspire to: having children by birth and adoption. I look forward to the day where we can travel to any roadside restaurant in America without receiving double-takes or whispers. I guess the day isn’t here yet. So, we will approach those experiences as an opportunity to educate others. We are proud though that in our community near Durham, NC, we can live our lives surrounded by other families with blended cultures and races. This is an accomplishment; America has come really far.
Photo courtesy: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/09traveler/1105623264/in/photostream/”>Carlo</a>