Just Because I'm Hopeful, Doesn't Mean My Kids Won't Struggle!

I have often believed that being a parent of kids who are different races, different nationalities and from different cultures would help my kids to find the world as a place of equality. Or, at least to believe it is possible since they grew up in a home where that ideal was modeled.

We have worked hard, though are kids are still young, to show our kids what it means to love people, honor people and respect people no matter what they look like, sound like or believe. We believe that everything begins in love and respect.

But, quite honestly, we have often had to ask ourselves a question that I know we will not be able to answer. Will our kids face a true identity crisis in a mixed race, adoptive and colorful family?

The news has recently been filled with the story of Rachel Dolezal. She is an influential woman who was born White, but has chosen to live a life under the identity of being Black. She has come under much ridicule because of her choice to identify herself in another race. Which, honestly I find mind numbing since we celebrate individuals who choose to identify under a different sex. But, that is sensational nature of our American culture.

The interesting thing to me is that she has white parents, but adopted siblings who are black. She comes from a family who likely modeled some version or vision of a world built on equality and love. Her story particularly hit me this week when I heard that she has a brother adopted from Haiti. The make up of her family is much like mine in many ways.

I have often asked the question in regards to my girls, who are both adopted and black. Will they identify with being Black? Will they be able to integrate into a black community when they leave my home one day? Will they see themselves as Black or White by heritage? Will they look to marry someone who is White, Black or another race. Am I able to raise them with a healthy perspective on race and the cultural issues that plague our nation?

Maybe because I am White, I have not asked many of the same questions in regards to my White children. I can only assume it is because I am White, and I certainly understand being White. I ignorantly assume I will be able to answer all of the questions I just shared in regards to my White children in context to being White.

However, the story of Rachel Dolezal has caused me to consider more deeply that I should be asking, with the same weight, those very questions of all five of my children. After all, Rachel was raised White, by a White family. But she had Black, adopted siblings. What in her upbringing caused her to re-identify herself in another race and color? What gave her such internal passion and drive that she shocked her family with her decisions? I have listened to the interviews; even her Black, adopted siblings are unsure what has happened.

It has made me ask many questions these past few days. I have assumed too long, and am honest enough to admit, that in classifying race issues in my own home, that some but not all of my kids will struggle with identity. But, I am realizing, all of my kids will face these same struggles.

I believe that mixed race families and families who adopt outside of their own race need to start a healthy dialog. I believe we need to reconsider some deep issues. I am not saying we reconsider multi-racial, cross-racial or transracial adoption as an option. (I use all of those terms because terminology in the adoption world is shifting as we speak.) But, I am saying we need to consider best practices, resources and conversation for the betterment of our children. I am saying that we cannot live in ignorance. I am saying that we must be honest, open and learn from each other.

I am thankful for friends of all races, color and cultures. I am doing my best to learn from them. I am willing to be vulnerable in the process. Being a writer, influencer and speaker on the subject of adoption does not make me an expert.

I realize, even in our best efforts we cannot wipe this stigma of race and identity from the culture. Struggling with identity is part of the human process. This struggle becomes unhealthy when we struggle alone.

What are your thoughts on this issue? 

Heritage Church

For those of you who know me, you know how much I love living outside the box. My life has been marked with great adventures, great moments, great tragedies and lots of risks, but the rewards have been beyond belief. Over the years those things, coupled with my deep love of the grace from Jesus, I have had the chance to see incredible life change for myself and others. 

In 2008, I took a bold step and began a role as a Lead Pastor. For the next 6 ½ years I had the honor of pastoring some of the greatest people on this planet in two different churches. 

Heritage Church // Texarkana, Texas

Grace Church, I love you deeply. We watched God take the impossible and make it unstoppable. We watched as hundreds and hundreds of people gave their lives to Jesus. You guys loved me and my family so well. You launched me out to plant Uncommon Church with such grace and love. 

Uncommon, you guys are the craziest group I have ever known. I cannot tell you how deeply my family loves each of you. Being your pastor has brought me some and my family some of our most precious and important moments in life. 

When we closed the doors at Uncommon and made the move back to Tennessee last year I had to face one of my greatest fears. What if God never allowed me the privilege and honor of pastoring another church? Admittedly I wrestled hard with that question. 

Over the last year I have had the honor to serve alongside a great team of people whose sole purpose is to support, grow and encourage other great ministries around the globe. The A Group is incredible and I am HONORED to have served on that team. During that time, God taught me to simply be content no matter my position, my role or my title. And, quite honestly, I had settled into believing that my days as a pastor were complete. But, God had greater plans and ideas!

My heart has always been focused on loving the people that are often rejected and hurt by the church. My heart has always been for diversity, grace, love and hope. My heart has always believed that anything is possible, and no one is hopeless. And, over the years that conviction and passion has been tested. It is hard for religion to reconcile with grace! I always dreamed of pastoring a church that truly understood grace, hope and unconditional love. 

Worship at Heritage Church

This Fall God began the process of opening a new season of ministry for me and my family. Around 17 years ago God birthed a church that would carry the DNA that matched my heart. God grew a church that truly understood and sought grace. God was preparing the most amazing place for my heart to lead. That place is Heritage Church in Texarkana, Texas. 

I am humbled, honored and amazed that God has allowed me the opportunity to be a Lead Pastor once again. This past week the church family at Heritage church has asked me to join them in the mission of carrying grace, hope and love to a broken and messy world. I could not be more excited. 

Allison and I have been in awe of God during this process. I wish I had the space and time to share all of the miracles and stories. But I want you to know that if we could have designed a church that was exactly what we dreamed of, Heritage Church would be it. 

We are excited about the future. We cannot wait to see what God does. We believe that the best is yet to come. The greatest miracles, stories and moments are ahead of us. Heritage church, get ready, because I believe that God has something bigger in store than anything we can ask or imagine. 

Let’s get this party started!