Jay and I are in Manhattan staying with my friend Melissa for the next few days. We are here to visit Jay's birthparents, so this will be the big city/open adoption edition of #AdamsActs. Spoiler alert: big city Jay doesn't sleep great and he rolls on the sidewalk when his suburban legs simply can't make it another block. It's very unsanitary. (Pardon the blurry image, but the kid can really roll.)
For Day 19, Jay and I brought some fruit to a homeless gentleman who suffers from a deformity of the foot. When we walked over, and I had Jay say "Hello, sir!" and hand him an apple, the man seemed taken aback.
He thanked us and remarked that he couldn't remember the last time somebody addressed him as "sir." After we walked away for a bit and turned back, the man was still smiling and waving to Jay.
So, Day 19: Seeing a man who feels invisible. Addressing him respectfully. Giving him fresh produce - which can hard to find in an "urban food dessert". Hopefully, restoring a bit of dignity.
I am always overwhelmed by huge issues of social justice - poverty, child slavery, human trafficking, sex trafficking, systemic racism, deplorable work conditions in developing countries... Issues like these seem so insurmountable. I know it's easier to pretend that these problems don't exist. I know it's overwhelming to acknowledge their existence. I know that we can't "fix" poverty through one act of kindness.
I also know that my God sees us and knows us intimately. He does not change our hearts from a distance, but through regular, intimate connection. I think that He models that for our benefit, so we know how to change things around us.
To change our culture, we must regularly connect with people. We sometimes have to crouch down and place our hand on a disfigured foot. We have to see people. Really make eye contact.
And say Hello.
My name is Jay, and I approve my mom's message.
Day 20. Jay reunited with the lovely Miss N. (his birthmom) this morning and our #AdamsActs for today was bringing her a gift. She loves to color (so do I by the way, it's seriously therapeutic) so we brought her this amazing adult coloring book.
Then we spent the day at the park with her and his birth sister. And while Jay is napping I am trying to quickly catch my breath before we meet up with birthdad in an hour. Navigating open adoption isn't easy, in fact it is one of more emotionally draining things I have experienced in my life.
I have this constant sense of responsibility to Jay... I have to take a lot of pictures because what if they close the adoption and these are the only moments we have with them. I have to remember everything they say so I can be mindful of their preferences and so I can answer Jay's questions when he's older. I need to keep Jay on a good schedule, not just accommodate everyone else. I don't want to push him to engage more than he in comfortable with.
But I also have this overwhelming sense of responsibility to his birth family... I have to divide our time evenly between everyone. I want to make these visits as easy and comfortable for them as possible. I want to be sensitive to how these visits might trigger a variety of emotions for them. I want to push Jay to engage so they feel connected with him. I feel obligated to "prove" that Jay is happy and doing well and that we are good parents, so I feel pressure for him to be well-behaved and not, I don't know, roll around on the sidewalks like a lunatic.
The visits are so bittersweet. To see the look on Miss N's face as she registers how big Jay has gotten since our last visit, to watch her rub his hair, to see her hug him goodbye while he reaches for me instead, to hear him call me "mama" in front of the one who gave him life... these are things that crack my heart wide open.
It is nothing heroic and I am not pretending that it is. But, to sign up for this, is a sort of kindness. To them, to Jay, to myself. It's hard, certainly, but it's also so, so very good.