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Saturday, June 30, 2007

God-The Planner Of Our Family...and appropriate adoption lingo


This picture (on the slideshow of our computer) triggered this post.
What a beautiful surprise Treston was to us! We got the call the day before Thanksgiving about him...before I answered the phone, our lives consisted of three kids...and Rusty was sure that was it! There was no baby on the horizon for us. 5 minutes later, our world changed.
We weren't looking for a baby, but New Life felt the Lord lead them to us, so a baby was looking for us. How awesome was that!
We prayed and prayed. I waited for Rusty to make the call. I had great peace that my husband was seeking the Lord, and not his own feelings or desires, so I waited with confidence that he would know what the Lord wanted for our family.
He did. We said yes, and the whirwind began. We sped through the foster parent process and less than 2 weeks later, we had Treston's placement (the official placing of the baby in our arms, the picture above, and signing of the papers) on December 6th. What a wonderful day etched in my memory forever!
We already knew that God was the Planner of Our Family. He had shown us that years before. We knew God had called us to adopt, and the timing of Justus' adoption made no sense for us financially. But God spoke clearly to us...adopt...brown baby...now. That's basically what we heard.
We already had Emma and Jax, fairly close in age (less than two years apart.) We had a girl and a boy, and people said to us "Now you can quit! You have both." That seemed odd to us. But it's true...the socially, suburban, acceptable goal is to have a boy and a girl, healthy, look like you, voila. Perfect family.
We weren't aiming for the world's goal. We wanted our family to look exactly like God had in mind.
We went to Matt and Erin's wedding last night (Yay!!!) in Waco. It was a 7pm wedding, so we decided to leave the babies with Becky, and let them go to bed on time. We took just Emma and Jax.
There we were, dressed-up, Rusty, me, Emma and Jax. I ran into someone I hadn't seen in years that I knew from Baylor. She said "what a beautiful family you have." For a second, I looked at us through her eyes. We looked like that "perfect suburban family." A boy, who looks just like Rusty, and a girl who looks like me. I quickly added that we had two other little ones at home. It felt weird to be without them. There's nothing wrong with having just two children, HEAR ME, but that was not God's plan for this family. So it would have been wrong for us.
After we got Treston and we moved from 3 to 4 kids (ages 6 & under)we moved into the freak category. Again, by perfect suburban standards, 3 are acceptable, but 4 kids...people ask you immediately "Are y'all done???" Someone asked me this recently, and I kind of shrugged and said "I don't know?" He looked at me, openly puzzled by my response. I have to explain to answer honestly that we are not the Planners of our family. We don't know what God has for us. If we didn't learn that with Treston, than we are pretty dense. Adoption is the most intentional, multi-step, a million decisions process. He showed us that we can adopt a baby without ever even looking for a baby. Wow!
We like having four. We feel unbelievably blessed, and a little overwhelmed at times. Rusty always feels done. I never do. But we are content in the true sense of the word.
I believe we have to be content to allow God to grow our family the way He wants to. Family Planning is an actual term we use. Birth control, when you think of it, is pretty funny too. I'm not saying don't use birth control. (See a great discussion on birth control and family size on the Her Hands blog.) But we are NOT IN CONTROL, as much as we think we are. We as Christians are insistent on making our own plans, down to what sex babies we will have, how many, and when. Who do we think we are? I preach this hard in our Countdown class for engaged couples. Young couples are often insistent that they will be married for five years before a baby comes along. They're not encouraged to consult God on decisions like grad school, birth control, or insurance. I am always saying "But God is the Planner of your Family" like it's my mantra. You can make a plan, and you can take the pill, patch, and ring everyday, but if God wants a baby for you, then you shall have one.
I have seen young couples in our church succumb to God's Plan with joy, seeing children as a blessing, and not an interruption to their lives and careers. I'm so proud of you guys!
All this to say...God has faithfully layed out His plan for our family bit by bit. We've watched it unfold with anticipation, resistance, and surprise at times. But we desperately want to be in step with His plan for us! Can you imagine this Bacak clan missing any of us? I can't. And I'm SO GRATEFUL!

As for some tips on appropriate adoption lingo...
I have people ask me quite frequently questions about my kids. Here are the most common ones...
Are all these yours?
So you had two of your own before adopting?
Are Justus and Treston brothers?
Do you know his (Justus or Treston's) Mom?
Why did she give up her baby?


I don't mind these questions! I know people are curious, and as you know, I love sharing about our family and adoption!!!
I mind how they're worded.
People who are unfamiliar with adoption just lack sensitive words for these questions. I don't fault them for this, but I am super sensitive to what my kids are hearing when they hear these questions at the pool, Target, and HEB. (Basically, everywhere we go.)
So here's a little adoption education.
They're all MINE, whether biological or adopted, and they are all brothers and sister. I don't want my kids to ever hear otherwise.
Emma and Jax are biological children. I do not refer to Justus or Treston as our "adopted kids". They're all my kids. Period. But clearly, I birthed Emma and Jax, and God gave us Justus and Treston through adoption.
Justus and Treston have one Mom, and that's me. They both have birthmoms whom we love, pray for, and include in our lives! They are very important! But if you ask me about their "Mom" I will assume you mean me.
And birthmoms make a noble and selfless decision to place their baby for adoption, rather than give up. New Life prefers that wording, and I agree.
I know this sounds super sensitive, but pretend that you are Justus and you hear these words everyday. It could cause hurt feelings, feelings of not belonging, of being abnormal, or confusion. It's my job to protect my children over my job to satisfy people's curiosity.
We welcome questions! Truly! We love to share our adoption stories! What a blessing it is to share what God has done in our family.

13 comments:

Kathryn, Michael & Alex said...

Praise God for Bacak Nation!!!

I truly believe when you are content in your circumstances is when God moves you. He wants you to be content...not comfortable!!!!

Oh and God does plan our family...Alex is a birth control baby and God very much wanted him to be born and he hasn't been quiet since!!!!

Beth said...

Jenn,
Thanks for sharing. I found your site through your brother Brian's. We met when I promoted a concert at my church with Shaun. My youngest, Mary, almost 8 fell immediately in "love" with Brian. He's "Brian Buddy" to her. We've been praying for Brian and Amy as they journey through this adoption process too.

While all of our children are biologically ours, we have 4 as well and I constantly get the questions and stares too. My husband's one of 8 though so we just laugh and say, we're only "half the family" his was.

Beth

Jennifer Bacak said...

Beth, nice to meet you! My brother Brian is one of the easiest and most fun people to be around ever!!! I can see why your daughter loves him.
Thanks for saying hi!
jenn

Rachel Hood said...

Jenn, i finally have your blog on my computer to check! jarrod and i are doing well and can't believe we recently had our 3 year anniversary...whoa! would love to see y'all sometime so next time we head to CS we'll have to come and see y'all and your growing family! was wondering if you know if there are any countdown classes offered in the longview/tyler area...my sister is engaged and i told her i would try to find out. tell the fam hi from us! y'all have a special place in our hearts and we are so thankful for our time with y'all in countdown! just used your cookbook you gave us this week! :)

Hendrick Family said...

I'm sure I have made ALL these same mistakes. I am so grateful that I am seeing adoption more and more. It was always so foreign to me, never having known anyone who had adopted children.

I think the more people are around adoptive families, the more we will learn about how to be sensitive with how we word things!

I was around someone the other day who was white and her child was African American. It was awkward, because I wanted to ask if he was adopted...

Of course he wasn't biological, but I had to stop and ask myself this question:

Why do I even need to know this?

I wanted to know because we're going through the adoption process...but really...that was still a selfish reason for wanting to ask her that question...especially since her child was near her.

As a foster parent, it used to make me so sad that people would constantly ask about Danny. And I'm sure out of curiosity...but still...the questions were hard and I felt like we couldn't go anywhere without people saying SOMETHING.

So I want that to happen first in my heart...I want to get to the bottom of WHY I would risk making a child feel awkward, or ask something inappropriate just because I'm curious. Curiosity isn't enough of a reason...especially if I risk singling someone out.

So that's where I am right now with all of this! I've been on Jenn's side too...but NOT with an adoptive child...a foster child...and it made me sad to constantly have to say, "No, he's not adopted. He's just staying with us for awhile." That's still hard! I was glad he was young!!

Heather

Jennifer Bacak said...

I want to clarify something...please hear me when I say I don't fault people for not knowing more sensitive words to use!!! I don't want this to sound harsh. (I think Rusty thinks it could come across wrong, so I'm making sure.) I don't want any of you to feel bad if you have asked these questions verbatim! I have more than enough grace for others, knowing that I have made some heinous blunders with my own words...painful to even remember them. But if I want my kids to hear something different, I have to tell people. So I hope this comes across okay.
And yes, Heather knows all about the stares and looks. I don't often see the stares and looks anymore. I'm too busy to notice these days, I guess. I do think it's an excellent point...could our curiosity make someone uncomfortable? Especially a child!!!
I seriously don't mind getting into a conversation with the lady checking me out at Target about adoption, because almost always when people ask, I get to talk about the Lord. And who doesn't love to talk about their kids??? I do.
jenn

Jennifer Bacak said...

Hood family! I can't believe you've been married 3 years!!! Wow! We miss you guys. Please come and see us. And I don't know about Countdown in that area, but you could probably check the legacyfamily.org website and find out.
Love to you!
jenn

Melodi said...

Obviously, I get the same questions. I was interested to see that people ask you if Treston is Justus's biological brother. I get that question about all the time about whether or not Andre is Camille's biological brother. (he's not)

I totally get what you're saying, and about how you want to protect your kids from hearing those questions; however, in thinking many times over this and our future with this, I just have to believe that it's all about what you said at the end. It's a chance to share Jesus and in the same moment, teach our children what that looks like.

People will ALWAYS ask those questions, no matter how much educating we do of the public about adoption and what it means. We can't truly protect our kids from it, because there is no predicting who will ask what question and whether or not our children will hear it. Instead of protecting them from hearing those things, I just want to always affirm to them what their adoption into our family means. I want to make sure they know all the ways God worked to bring us together and how we can use that for His glory.

The questions are inevitable, both appropriate and inappropriate questions. We get the opportunity while they are children to train them to answer the questions. They'll get to an age where people won't even ask US - the parents - but will ask THEM. Other kids will ask them very bluntly. I'm not even sure that I care about the intentions of the questions people ask, but just that my answer glorifies God.

I know that you already know all these things! You are an amazing mom and family. I think I just look at it as, people can ask all the questions they want, no matter how they word it, because I'm ready - and you are, too. I want to make sure Camille is ready someday and doesn't even bat an eye when people ask her about it, but just begins her story of how God blessed us all by bringing her into our family.

Cindy Seay said...

Just like so many, before I had an adopted daughter I was clueless about adoption lingo and more importantly, about the feelings of an adopted child. I am Jenn's mom and I have an 18 year old daughter who came to us by God, through adoption. I agree that we cannot completely protect our adopted children but we must learn that the words they hear other people say have a completely different meaning than what we hear.
We hear curiousity but an adopted child hears - one more time - that they are different - that they, in some way, don't completely "belong" to this family in the "traditional" sense. They have one more opportunity to feel the rejection issues that tend to come more easily in adopted kids.
We have long-time friends who knew us when our first 4 were little who truly don't acknowledge Jessica as one of our children. I have heard them tell other people that we have 4 children and Jessica. I am always quick to say that we have 5 children.
I think it is important that we be quick to respond with answers that first, affirm our adopted children and secondly, give a quick lesson on adoption and how God builds families in very creative ways.
Jessica has said to me that sometimes she feels that the questions are a way to point out that she doesn't "fit" in the family.
I would say to those who are asking the questions- like Heather said - consider why you are asking - and then to those of us who are being asked - consider your child first - respond in a way that your child feels honored- never trivialize these situations or feelings in your adopted child - avoid some conversations (we have experienced this) that you know will cause your child discomfort and prepare your children for the questions as they grow older.
We must always be willing to learn as we go along.

nancy said...

People usually don't ask if Callie is adopted. It is very obvious that she is. The rest of my children are "cookie cutter kids". (Except that out of my mom's 10 grandchildren, she looks the most like my mom!) People do want to hear about how and why we adopted her at the age of ten.

There were people in our church that had problems with us having more than three children and then really thought we were crazy when we added a fifth through adoption.

Karen said...

Yall are such an amazing family and set such a great, godly example to all you meet! The Bacaks are wonderful!

Beth said...

I didn't find any of your words in this post to be harsh or insensitive. I don't often ask people about the circumstances surrounding the makeup of their family unless I feel I know them well enough to ask. Then, it's a matter of curiosity mostly. Thanks for providing the insight of an adoptive family as to how questions sound, especially to the children.

Beth

King Family said...

Jen,

I love your post. Thank you for helping educate people on the language of adoption. I too get lots of questions and some are the exact same questions you listed. I enjoy talking about adoption and love to share about our stories. When asked a question with language I don't like, I always respond with the correct or preferred term. When they ask, "are they brother?" I say, "yes, they are brothers, but they are not biological brothers." If someone refers to their mom, I too assume they are talking about me. If I know they mean the birthmother, I answer back with the word birthmother to help them understand the wording we prefer. I don't do it in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, just more like an informative way. Thanks for a great post. I am so happy to hear that you too believe God is the planner of your family and that children are blessing, not a liability! Love you. Staci