“Can I talk to you? Just you and me?” My sparkly eyed, curly haired 5-year-old daughter whispered in my ear as I was tucking her into bed. At first, I was certain
this was one of her antics used to extend our bedtime routine, but I am learning how to be more patient and generous with my middle daughter, so I obliged.
“Of course, babe. What do you want to talk about?”
“It’s just that I don’t really think I am part of our crew. I am the only one with curly hair and the only one with brown skin.” Her sparkly eyes filled with tears and my mama heart broke.
“Oh Truly, you are my daughter and very much a part of our crew.” I lifted her chin and looked straight into her dark brown eyes. “Truly, I know you think you are very different from the rest of us, all of us are different, remember? That’s what makes people so amazing, our differences.”
“I know, but I just don’t think I belong.”
Her words felt too heavy for a 5-year-old to carry, but the reality is, every adoption begins with the tragedy of a severed relationship and so the heaviness of that reality is one we do not ignore.
“Tru, you do belong! You are my daughter and I am your mother and nothing will ever change that. Our ‘crew’ would not be a ‘crew’ without you.” I snuggled down next to her, “And remember, God made you to have gorgeous curly hair and amazing brown skin. When he made you, he looked at you and thought, ‘Wow, some of my best work yet!’ You are amazing my sweet daughter. Amazing.” I kissed her soft brown cheeks and held her in my arms until she fell asleep.
That would not be the last time we would have this conversation. The makeup of our family is quite unique and so this conversation is necessary with all our kids.
You see, all three of my kids are adopted. Our middle daughter is a different race than me and her dad, and our eldest and youngest both have Down syndrome. We are a different kind of family. And I like it that way. In a world in which “different” often creates a sense of discomfort and at times disdain, we are shouting our children’s worth from the rooftops and daily celebrating the differences in all of us.
For my children who have Down syndrome, I have found myself going hoarse, shouting their worth to a world that simply does not see it. Every time my daughter or my son with Down syndrome step out of our front door, they are stepping into a world in which Down syndrome is a negative thing. They are stepping into a world which requires them to prove their worth and no matter how loud we shout it, they are rarely viewed as worthy enough.
Every day, multiple times a day, I scoop my brave daughter or tender-hearted son up in my arms, look straight into their almond eyes and tell them just how amazing they are, exactly how they are. With great confidence, I look at each of my children and tell them they are exactly who God created them to be. His masterpiece!
It’s an honor to be an adoptive mama, to get to look at the faces of three different children, none of whom look like me, and know I am theirs and they are mine. I get to see just how crafty and able and majestic our God is when he carefully and intentionally created each of my children in their birthmother’s womb. I get to have a front row seat to his ability and desire to mend brokenness and make us whole as he placed each of my children in my arms.
The world has one idea of how a family should look and it tries its best to convince all of us to believe its
lies. As the mother of three children, all of whom are adopted, all of whom are “different,” I have discovered family has nothing to do with shared DNA and similar physical attributes. All you need to make a family is sacrifice, devotion and an unlimited amount of love.
Heather Avis is the author of The Lucky Few and the founder of the hit Instagram account @macymakesmyday, which is enjoyed by and inspires more than 104,000 followers from all walks of life and from every corner of the world. She is a wife to her loving and supportive husband, Josh, and mother to Macyn, Truly and August. They live in Southern California.
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