“Mom, why did God create matching?”
by guest blogger Lauren Jordan
We took the 18 hour flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December of 2009. EJ was just seven months old when we first saw him. We knew we owed it to him to be the best parents we could and enter transracial adoption with our eyes wide open. As White parents, we had a lot of work to do and we are still learning every single day.
What we could not have predicted was how often our little guy would engage us in conversations that question our own beliefs and ways of thinking. Almost weekly in our house, we discuss adoption, race, God, heaven, and many other difficult topics. Often, we don’t have the answers. But what transpires are amazing dialogues that leave us all further questioning race, family, and identity, allowing us to grow closer as a family.
“Mom, why did God create matching?”
I was in the middle of “cooking” dinner. Mostly, I was rummaging around in the fridge and freezer to see what our options were. I had just asked my now six-year-old son EJ to find matching socks and that was his response. He can never just get the socks. We needed to have a deep philosophical conversation about it. I suspected he was stalling.
“Why did he create things so that they always match? Like kids match their parents?”
Oh boy. I have been fielding some tough ones this summer. EJ’s ability to think…and think…and analyze…and think some more, has continued to create some really difficult questions. And they are always lobbed at me. This conversation took place on the same day we had grappled with some other tougher, more personal topics and I suspected it was the residual of that.
I thought about going into how not all kids really match their parents. Some have darker skin, different color hair, and eyes. But that would be insulting to his intelligence. He gets that. He knows. He was truly asking why God created us (and animals) to have children that resemble us. It was an amazing question. One that at six years old, I never would have contemplated or even asked. But then again, I did match my parents.
And I didn’t have an answer.
“I honestly don’t know. It really doesn’t make any sense does it? It would be far more interesting if people, animals, and things didn’t match, right?”
“Yeah, so why did he make them match?”
Why did God make us match?
I thought about what the world may be like now if we weren’t programmed by science and cells, and whatever (I hated science) to share DNA that made us look like our families. It would certainly be different. And then I thought about the courage it must take not to match your parents, your family and friends every single day. What that must feel like to search for something in common and how isolating that must be.
This fall, EJ started at a school whose mission is rooted in multicultural education and committed to racial diversity. He is no longer the only brown kid in the room. When first finding out that his teacher was also brown, like him, he busted out with a fist pump and a “Yes!” I almost teared up.
I can’t do anything to make us match. But we realized that we can do something about placing him in an environment every day where he feels comfortable, appreciated, and most importantly, not alone. Where he doesn’t come home and say, “I was the only brown kid.” (made that mistake at camp this summer!) and where he can see himself in his friends, teachers and staff members with whom he interacts.
Every conversation I have with my son about race, family, and identity makes me realize how little I know about all of it, and how grateful I am that we are both now someplace that helps us navigate through these stages of growth and learning. The complexities of who we are, where we come from, and who we become are overwhelming and hard to explain. But each tough question forces me to address things I would otherwise never give a second thought.
And that conversation helped me come to the realization that God didn’t create us all to match. For a special few of us, he created us to fit together as an unmatched, yet perfectly matched, set and gave us the great gift of building a relationship, bond, and love based solely on who we are as people and not on shared DNA.
“We don’t match buddy but we don’t need to match to be a family and love each other.”
I know that this will not always be enough for him, but it is a start and we are working from there.
Lauren Jordan is a mom, wife, fundraiser, co-director of the Providence Listen to Your Mother show, and an aspiring writer. She writes about her journey at Don’t Lick the Trash Can.