Every time I sit down to write out our adoption story for the brave families I see standing on the starting line of the process, I wimp out. I’m afraid our experience is no longer relevant to them and that nothing I write will stop their legs from shaking anyway, so why bother.
I tell myself that our story is old news and that the only way to make it new again is to return to Ethiopia.
Since I can’t do that right now, I shrink back, close my computer, and leave the storytelling to someone else. Someone who has been through the process more recently or more times or more noticeably than me.
Someone whose story hasn’t been offline for the last five years.
I tell God that if he would please just give me something new to say, then I would say it. I ask him to send me back to Africa so I can tell new stories from there, but he allows me to indulge in none of it.
Instead, he sends me downstairs to the kitchen table where our six-year old needs help with her homework. He tells me that living bravely and being a storyteller right now doesn’t look like pulling out a passport, it looks like taking out a pencil and helping with sight words.
It’s so obvious, so ordinary. It doesn’t feel brave or inspiring. It doesn’t strike me as all that relevant to anyone else, so I don’t write about it. I’m hesitant. Not because it doesn’t matter at all, but because I’m afraid it doesn’t matter enough. Not this part.
He reminds me that just like our spiritual adoption didn’t end at the manger, our daughter’s earthly adoption didn’t end at the airport homecoming, and that mattering is worked out in the follow through.
“Perhaps,” he says, “You should try writing about that. It’s where you are.”
So here I am, timidly bringing our adoption story back online and wondering who else might be sitting at a kitchen table and wishing it looked more like plane. As I do, I’m struck by the realization that maybe it’s not just the families at the starting line who need to hear from the storytellers. Maybe it’s also the families like ours, the ones gutting out the ordinary days between the flight that brought us home and the one that will eventually take us back.
Maybe we need to be reminded that this in-between follow-through part matters too.
“The reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it. The treasure we seek requires no lengthy expedition, no expensive equipment, no superior aptitude or special company. All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World