Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blessed to be a weirdo

I have often thought that, while on the whole I believe the internet to be a wonderful invention, one of the negatives about it is that it decreases one's comprehension of the normative. What I mean is this: it used to be, if you were a weirdo, you knew it. It was obvious that you were different from the people in your family and your community. You stuck out like a sore thumb. Folks called you 'black sheep' or 'oddball'.

But now, due to chat boards and blogs and so forth, no matter how unusual or even deviant your weirdness might be, within minutes you can find a group of people who will not only accept but encourage you in your proclivity. Soon, you don't feel weird at all. Soon, you might even start to believe that you are the normal one.

It's an illusion. A busy chatroom is no indicator of the status quo.

It can be a very dangerous illusion depending upon the status of your weirdness. Just because some yahoo in Peoria is as perverted as you are, it doesn't make your perversion acceptable.

Or, it can just be deceiving.

I first joined an online community of moms when Shepherd was born. Nothing unusual, I knew plenty of moms in real life. When I began blogging - completely ignorant of what I was getting myself into - I naturally fell into the 'Christian mommy blog' community. And that was fine. I also know lots of Christian mommies in real life. Life imitated internet.

But, now, things have changed.

And I've just discovered I'm one of those online weirdos.
Who thought she was normal.

I was adopted, my brother was adopted, my closest-thing-to-a-sister was adopted, many of my childhood playmates were adopted. It seemed normal. I always knew that if I could not conceive, I would no doubt adopt. Then years ago, I was made aware of the orphan situation in China and vowed to adopt whether I could conceive a child or not. Before I married my husband, I made sure he was on board with the plan (his response: "Awesome. Adoption is so freaking biblical." Yup, he was The One.) Throughout our marriage, the question has never been if we would adopt, only when.

Silly me, I still thought I was normal.
Thought my cute new husband was normal too.

Once the timing became right, and we began the process, I immediately found a huge online community. Not just for adoption in general or even international adoption, but for Ethiopian adoption specifically. There are so many blogs of families at every stage of the process. I also joined no less than three yahoo chat boards for those adopting from Ethiopia.

It started to seem like everyone was adopting internationally.

It seemed - you know what - normal.

It was a humongous illusion.

The reactions we have received from some in our tangible community - the minority, blessedly, the minority - have slapped me out of my internet bubble and forced me to confront reality. Slapped me hard. My cheeks bear invisible bruises from various criticizing palms.

We've been called everything from foolish and naive to selfish with bad priorities to neglectful parents to trying to be fashionable by adopting a black child (the latest stinging accusation.) It's even been insinuated that we are racist - though I'm still not sure how that one works.

And these are the things that have been said to our faces. I don't care to imagine what some are saying behind out backs.

Guess what y'all? Turns out it's not one bit normal to adopt an orphan!
We're the oddballs! We're the black sheep!

I should have known.

I knew the statistics: that if only 3% of the world's self professed Christians adopted a child, there would be no more orphans in the world. That if only one family out of each church in our country adopted one child from foster care, there would be no more adoptable foster children in America.

And yet most Christians don't adopt. Many - dare I say most? - churches don't do one thing to protect the fatherless in America or anywhere else. The result: there are still approximately 143 million orphans in the world, and over 120,000 orphans in America (in addition to another half million foster children ineligible for adoption.)

Only 2,277 Ethiopian children were adopted by Americans last year.

But because every single one of them seems to have a blog, I got hoodwinked into thinking it was more, much more.

I kind of shocked myself today with the revelation that, when I discount a couple of acquaintances and people whom I have met only because of our impending adoption, I have only one real friend who has adopted internationally. One. I've never ever met another family who has adopted from Africa, let alone Ethiopia. In my own good-sized church, I can think of only three families who have adopted period.

We are weird. We are super weird.
And we are gonna have at least five super duper weird kids who think that sacrificing all you have to pay the ransom for a child you've never met from an orphanage in a country that previously you couldn't find on a map is normal.

And, for the first time in my life, I feel so unbelievably blessed to be a weirdo.


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