Red Stripes

I was the youngest with 3 older brothers, the only girl.  Barely in Kindergarten, I got taken along on my mother's jaunts while my 3 older brothers were in school.   My mom seemed always to be in a hurry, clipped steps, sharp words.  I felt like an unwanted appendage.  She'd grip my wrist so tight all I remember is that pain while being dragged around.  I hated that.  Surely she didn't love me, or why else would she hurt me?  She left red marks on my little wrist.
When I was living in Korea in the early 1960s, it was a poor, third-world country.  I look at  pictures and remember...the dirt streets, children playing in the alleys, wearing only scraps, stray dogs wandering around.
Slums in the 1960s.  Photo from jellyfish1616.
As a mom, now I know it's the mama bear steel-claw death grip of protection.  Now I know that she was afraid of what every mom fears in the depth of her gut: to lose your child.  I held onto my son's hand and wrist, too.  It wasn't good enough to have him hold me - what use was that?  I held onto him and knew I wouldn't let go.

Lost children. Photo from jellyfish1616
How heart-wrenching even now, with the internet, the priority and resources of looking for lost children.  Back then, before people had phones, a phone book?  Was there a priority to find lost children? especially if they were poor? or did they accept it as part of life?  Did they even have the energy?  Back then, it was so real just to lose a child in the bustle of the open market.  And today, we have adult adoptees in their 40s, 50s, 60s, who were lost in the market.  Or left.  Because of the devastating poverty.

I think now with gratefulness the red stripes my mom left on my wrist every time she ran errands. She held me, the way my Heavenly Father holds me.  I will never be lost.


I Am Not an Environmentalist

Some of you know me as someone who avoids chemicals in my food and body care.  That means I deliberately travel miles out of my way to buy pastured, organic meats and vegetables.  I also hunt and gather household products with minimal petroleum-based ingredients.  You will have to search to find artificial fragrances or preservatives in our home.  It is time-consuming and expensive.

Yesterday, I tuned out of my public radio station's fundraiser (not without some guilt) to the local Christian station.  They had on a Christian scientist discussing the Biblical view of the earth and the environment.  Full disclosure:  I did not listen very long because frankly, it made me impatient.  But it also made me think more clearly on why I choose to live the way I do.

The program made three very important points in the Christian, Biblical world view:
A.  The earth was not created to last forever.
B.  Human beings are distinct from all other living creatures.
C.  We will not find eternal life in preserving the earth.

And I ascribe to those points.  The Bible tells of the "end times," that God created man and woman distinctly from the rest of Creation, and that it is through faith in the Messiah alone that will bring us back to a full, eternal fellowship with God.  I will not become holy by the things I eat or not eat.  Those are "orthodox" Christian beliefs.

"Orthodox" Environmentalism, however, espouses saving our planet because it is our only home, that all creatures are equally valuable, and that we will endure only if we have an earth to call Home.  These views are distinctly different, aren't they?

But in addition, I believe these Biblical views:
1.  We are to be thankful for what God gives us and be wise stewards of our resources.
2.  We are to take care of our bodies and ourselves, not only as the temple of the Holy Spirit, but also as a way to increase our gifts (talents.)
3.  We should not act carelessly, expecting God to show His grace.

I do not find A, B and C to contradict 1, 2 and 3. 

However distasteful it may be to some of you to think of raising animals only for their fur, I have no intention of throwing red paint on anyone.  I suppose it may be distasteful to some that I condone the raising of certain animals only so I can enjoy eating its meat.  The Bible says all things are approved for us to eat.  Whether I choose to do that or not, is a different issue.  That I would save a human being over any animal any day, may not be palatable to some.  I refuse to call fish "sea kittens" to promote PETA's world view. However, I believe that saving bats and bees is taking care of the earth that God made for us, intricate in its interconnectedness, which sustains humankind.

I am not an Environmentalist, or a Feminist, or a Democrat or any other label - I am a Christian.   Firs.  And from that world view do all other views flow.  I choose to live my life caring for the things and Creation that God gave to me.  I choose to feed and care for my family with the safest and healthiest out there so they can be strong and productive for Him.  I married a man who respects all people as the image of God, and that each of us have a useful role to play.  I teach my child the same thing, to be grateful for the garbage collector. to be kind to everyone.  I believe in caring for the poor, that they are not any more lazy or cursed than the rich; that the poor will always be with us.

I do and believe all these things because I am a Christian.


January 25, 2003

Eleven years ago today, we took a deep breath, and got ourselves to the Holt offices in Seoul.  This was the day we would get our child.  Our son.  He'd have one last check-up with the doctor, then handed to us.

I know I should SHOUT with CAPS and !!! that 11 years ago today(!) we became a family(!) when we brought our little guy home(!) and it was the HAPPIEST day of our LIVES(!!)

But honestly?  I was exhausted and confused and stunned. (Maybe a little like after you birthed your child?)  I look at those pictures of myself, and I don't really remember a whole lot.  I do remember hearing the foster mothers in the Lobby saying to our son's foster mother that he looked like her.  They didn't know I understood them.  And that I resented that.  Because you see, he was my son.  Mine.  I filled out all the paperwork and paid thousands of dollars and The Law said that he was mine.  I wasn't thinking so much about the foster family.  Or the mom who bore him for 9-months, then really didn't have a choice but to give him away.

I certainly wasn't thinking about this child, that he might be just as exhausted and confused and stunned as I was.   And he was.  This little 7-month old, cried and cried and cried.  And cried.  And later, so did I.  Sometimes, even, on the kitchen floor.  From exhaustion, disappointment,  regret, failure.

If you've read this blog, you might know a little of our adoption journey; the tough road that this little guy went through.  But it's been eleven years.  We've talked and held and therapied and cried and not talked and not hugged and rebelled and disassociated and and and stimmed.  But I believe we are on the other side of the tunnel.  Not without some scars.  Or slime.  You know the wet stuff that slithers down the side of dark, scary tunnels.

The other day, we were sitting together in his room.  He, with his Legos.  Me, sorting through laundry.  He said, "If you had known I was going to have such a hard time, would you still have adopted me?"  I was too quick to reply, "No.  I wouldn't have wanted you to suffer so much."  This time, I was thinking only of him.  Had I known he'd be so traumatized, how could I, or any human being, want that?  If anyone had told me he wouldn't sleep well for 6 years, panic at anything new, wouldn't know how to hug and wouldn't allow hugs, but at the same time hyperventilate if you left the room...who would wish that?

Later that night, in bed, he reminded me of that conversation and said, "When you said 'no,' it made me sad."

So we talked.   That I had been thinking about what I had said, that it was a complicated feeling of both/and: loving him and being happy that he was my son but also sad that he suffered so.  I think he got it.

It's been months since we've laid in bed together to read a bedtime story.  But that night, he wanted me to stay awhile and hold him.  Just hold him.  I walked away and realized that because he shared with me that he was sad,  that we had actually made it to the other side of the tunnel.

What's a few drops of slime, anyway?