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“So what are you?” a new acquaintance asks me. “If you don’t mind me asking…”

“Well, what do you think I am?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure… umm…” (stares intently)

Silence.

“So… are you going to tell me?”

“Well, give me your most educated guess. And then I might tell you.”

In past conversations, the guesses that have followed have encompassed a wide variety of races. Sometimes, people tend to think that my race is mixed with something identical to theirs. Others try to think as exotically as possible. Some do not think I am a mixture of multiple races at all.

“That’s an interesting guess. Well, I actually don’t know. I am adopted. I know my biological mother was African-American, but I don’t know what my father was.”

[Tweet “I am adopted. I know my biological mother was Black, but I don’t know what my father was.”]

I smile at how some feel very unsatisfied, like they were cheated at a game: I built up the anticipation and then didn’t have a straight answer. Some people search for words to dialogue further about my adoption. There are those who feel bad and drop the subject. And periodically someone may say, “Well, you are beautiful.” No matter the response, I’m typically very open to converse on the subject and appreciative that someone cares to chat a bit. I am always attracted to the chance of promoting adoption to someone.

My parents look very different from me. Unlike my older brother, I am clearly not the blood offspring of their fair skin and features. My little sister who is adopted had Caucasian and African-American parents, and we look most like each other.

Throughout childhood I rarely thought of myself as adopted, though we had always talked very openly about it:

“Another woman had the honor of carrying you in her womb, and then God saw it fit to bring you to us. You were no surprise. We chose you.”

And it was that simple.

In God’s gracious will, I never felt like “the adopted one.” There was no distinction or distance, only love and provision. I am their daughter, and I always knew it.

[Tweet “In God’s gracious will, I never felt like “the adopted one.””]

It wasn’t until around Jr. High that other people started bringing the different look of our family to my attention. The stereotypes of my outward appearance also began to be impressed upon me; and that continues to this day. “You don’t act black” was a phrase I heard often. “Those are your parents?”

It quickly dawned on me that my circumstance was very different from many people, and they did not know what to do with it. I realized that I, too, was faced with the question of how I would perceive my background.

As I became an adult and experienced much of my daily life away from my family, I noticed how I did not really identify with a certain group of people. Many people find a sense of pride and identity in their race and ethnicity. I didn’t feel a sense of belonging towards any one group.

[Tweet “Many find pride in their ethnicity. I didn’t feel a sense of belonging towards any one group.”]

Through a series of experiences, I began to develop a sense of anxiety towards any type of African-American group. Much of the time, the question of whether or not I would be accepted felt too weighty and risky to me.

[Tweet “Much of the time, the question of whether or not I would be accepted felt too risky to me.”]

My heritage is a road I continue to walk down and figure out. I have only found courage to face this risk in the person Jesus Christ. I have found reassurance in the people who re-image this kind of familial love.

[Tweet “My heritage is a road I continue to walk down and figure out. – Alicia R.”]

[Tweet “I have found reassurance in the people who re-image this kind of familial love. – Alicia R.”]

Ministries like RAAN are very precious to me for this reason. My family is not African-American, though by looking at me one could easily think otherwise. My African-American family, so to speak, has literally come from the Church, the body of believers that I have come across thus far in life. The common thread is the bloodline of Christ’s atonement.

[Tweet “The common thread is the bloodline of Christ’s atonement. – Alicia R.”]

When I considered making contributions to RAAN, my options for reflection felt narrowed. Because of my loving family who are not African-Americans, I was naturally forced to think in terms of Christ alone. I came to the conclusion that my perspective is shared by an increasing number of people in the mixing pot of America.  Immediately upon this consideration, my thoughts are propelled to an awesome realization: Christ wants us to make other saints feel like they belong in his family.

[Tweet “Christ wants us to make other saints feel like they belong in his family.”]

I think because I am adopted it has always felt very natural to extend loyal and committed love to people who are not my family. The example of my parents helped create a mindset of what the truest family relies on – Christ’s blood. It’s important to make other people feel like they belong. Christ’s blood has a way of doing this.

“Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” Ps. 119:111

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