As children we all have visions of what we think our adult life will hold; education, job, money, community, love, a legacy. Sometimes we pair those images with our passions and dreams, but often times we fall into the rhythm of the busy world and we forget about our passions until we're unhappy or bored. Do you remember your dreams, your passions? Is there a thing that pulls you out of bed in the morning, that drives you to make the most of your time and produce something of value each day? The dream of adoption has always been that pull for us.
We get excited when our eyes open each morning, as each day is a new opportunity to be better than yesterday and to create something positive. We didn't know it a year ago, but becoming parents has rapidly become the fuel that drives us, as we can pour our energy and attention into our son, in the hopes that he will ultimately be a positive force in the world. Surely our perspective is not original on this score. We all see sweet little ones take on new adventures and stretch their minds from moment to moment and we want them to step into a world that welcomes their uniqueness and passions so they can continue to grow peace and love in their communities and provide for others’ growth as well. However, with the excitement and challenge of making a better world for those we love, we have recognized that the world is in a constant state of becoming just, beautiful, and worthy of our children. And we recognize today more than ever that we have a ways to go to get there.
As we started our domestic adoption journey we felt very vulnerable and were extremely humbled by the process. First we were unique in the adoption circle in that we felt called to adoption first. Adoption has always been our deep desire, just as having biological children is the deep desire of others. We wanted our lives to be changed by a new life brought to use through love, and in the process attempt to create a diverse and beautiful world for ourselves, our child, and our neighbors. I (Brit) never imagined myself in a hospital gown screaming for my life. I always saw myself next to another woman, holding her hand, loving and encouraging her.
But this surely does not mean that adoption is an easy way to opt out of the normal difficulties associated with having children. Adoption has its own unique challenges, which are simply different from a biological family planning story. In our situation it was hard to not be able to relate to the infertility stories, to feel like we were going to take a baby from a family that had been through IVF and now waiting to adopt, to say nothing of the medical exams, blood work, finger prints, home studies, interviews about our past and plans for the future. Talk about vulnerability! But after all of that, the most humbling moments came in conversations with birth mothers. The first email or phone call from a young woman made our personal stressors feel minute. While the anticipation of a potential child was thrilling, to hear the courage and strength these women have was extremely humbling. Here we were thinking we were doing something special, and it is these women who are truly sacrificing their bodies, time and heart for their child.
During the adoption process we were required to complete a check list, a literal check list, asking which races we were open to adopting. It felt gross. We consider our colorful and diverse family a great source of strength and pride, and we were open to any situation that would come our way. Again, we were passionate about changing the world, being an example of love. So it was an easy decision to plan for a transracial family. As a result of our check list we had plenty of conversations with our social worker and agency about what it means to be a transracial family. In short, it would require holistic changes to nearly every decision we make as a family: where we live, where we vacation, where we worship, where we eat dinner, and what media we consume. We thought we were ready for it.
Our son came into our lives in a short period of time. His birth mother picked us just 10 days before he was born. We're extremely lucky that she is local and that she is open to continue communication and interaction. The beauty of open adoption is that it allows for the adoptees to form their identity from their birth family. Our son will see the resemblance to his oldest brother, that he has his birth mother's eyes and gorgeous cheeks and dimples. He will know that she loved him more than she loved herself. We are so grateful for the gift of this boy, but also that she is willing to relive the pain of her sacrifice to allow him to have a healthy self identity.
Any adoptive parent will tell you how important a birthfamily is in the story of their child, however as a transracial family it is not just the birth family that is imperative to the development of identity. So this is where we've been the most humbled as we have recognized that we will never be able to be everything our son needs. He needs other black men and women in his life to be his parents and exemplars, to guide him, to relate and to provide a kind of counsel that only comes with lived experience. That's hard. We selfishly want us to be all he needs. But because our hearts now live in a body that will experience things we have never experienced, we have rapidly and aggressively woken up to the racial realities of the world we live in. This awakening has caused our respect for our black friends and relatives to explode. How do they handle this with such dignity and grace? And how can we teach our son to be like them?
Little did we know, this would require us to be more vulnerable than we were ever comfortable even seeing others become. As adoptive parents you're called to love big, a love that reaches beyond passive, facile love. We don't mean loving our son is unnatural, that has been super natural and supernatural! But loving his history simply takes effort, and it is essential. It means loving people that look like our child, it means being in relationship with them, worshiping with them, being vulnerable and asking hard questions about hair and skin and societal injustices. Before we knew it, conversations about race had become the norm for us, as we play catch-up in coming to understand the nature of the world our son will inhabit. We find ourselves wondering how often our white family friends talk about race. We wish we could raise this boy without the intervention and support of our black loved ones. But the fact is we just can't and now our passion and pull to change the world developed a broad new meaning that placed us in a more secondary position.
So where do we go from here, in light of all this? We can't gather all of the examples of injustices we can find and scream it, post it, tweet it, gram it, and talk your face off about it. Our deepest wish, which is ultimately unfulfillable, is to educate our communities. We want them to get it, we want them to do something to change it. Our arrogant dream to change the world through open and transracial adoption has now become concretized in the very basic wish that the world would become a less hostile place for beautiful children like our son. Because, honestly, we had no idea how oblivious we were prior to bringing our brown boy home. We know our wish is not fulfillable because we wouldn't even have believed ourselves prior to having our son. The thought that we're not a part of the injustice because we don't actively treat people differently is just not true. It is so much more than personal interaction with people who look different from you. In a system with injustices, passive non-aggression can be just as destructive as active, in-your-face racism. For us, as white parents of a brown boy--and of course, because we are not brown, our experience is massively diluted compared to black people's, but when we see the passive, subtle inaction of people in our community we feel pulled to make changes, to better the world he will live in. He is an adorable, precocious, emotional, spirited, loving person. He is worthy of everyone's best thoughts. Our new perspective has initiated many very hard conversations with friends and family. And just as we are learning about and correcting our own ignorance, we are also learning how best to explain our point of view to those we love, with rock-solid conviction, but also with love.
Now as we wake up each morning and feel that pull to change the injustices in our world, we try not to be overly militant or extreme in our advocacy, because our son has not asked to be the star of any big fight. He is more than just the occasion for our racial enlightenment. Each day we have to take a deep breath, step back and realize that all he is is a wonderful little boy who should be loved to the moon and back. We have had to find that vulnerability and humble ourselves as we take on this revised understanding of what it means to change the world. Not to mention that the black community has not asked us to do this for them. If we are going to be involved in the fight for racial justice, we must at the very most be foot soldiers, and not leaders. We don't have the knowledge or the standing to lead. But we are prepared to follow. We will be there, in whatever way we are asked to change the world our children live in.
While we will continue to strive for more peace and more love each day, we will teach and encourage our son to find his pull, his passions and we will guide his energy towards making the world a better place. And until our son can tell us how he wants us to be a part of his passions in this world, we will support him with the truth and put him in a community that builds him up. As we write, we are challenging you to be a part of that community. Find your passion, your pull, open your eyes each morning with excitement, readiness to be vulnerable and humbled by those around you, and look for that energy in your community that is growing peace and love.
Zach and Brit Eyster have been married for 7 years and together for a decade. They are working professionals, a pediatric oncology nurse and a lawyer, who have always shared an adoption dream, with no plans to have children biologically. Brit's family housed homeless pregnant woman during her school aged years, which formed her worldview to be one of acceptance and respect for people in all walks of life. For the past year they have lived their dream with their son.