Not good enough & a letter to Santa that will melt your heart

There are always two ways to see things. Maybe more actually. Today I'm talking about the second way. 

This is a picture of my son Kevin at his orphanage taken the day we arrived to bring them back to America. He was six years old and sleeping in a crib. In order to make room for him in such a small space they removed a few slats at the end for his legs to come out. No pillow and no blanket.

This bed wasn't good enough for my Kevin. Except it was.

As an adoptive parent I know that sensitivity is key when discussing my adopted children and their past. Its a bit interesting in our situation though. My twins were six and a half when we adopted them. Their big brown eyes light up when we look at photos from Burundi and their orphanage. This place was home and the people loved them.

A few weeks ago a school assignment was sent home for a presentation on your family Christmas/holiday traditions. I knew that the twins had never had a Christmas tree or gotten any kind of present. Their meal was rice and beans just like every other day. Maybe there would be meat as a special treat.  Kevin and Ines wanted to tell their classmates about their orphanage and show them pictures. Excuses popped out of my mouth. All the reasons why taking  pictures to school wouldn't be a good idea. We don't want the pictures to get bent or lost. It might be easier to just talk about Burundi at Christmas time instead of the orphanage...I had all the reasons why they shouldn't tell everyone about their experiences at the orphanage.

The real reason was fear. I was afraid kids would make fun of them. Would comment on how dirty and old things looked. Tease them for having been orphans. 

Funny thing is that Kevin and Ines are proud of their story. Kevin wanted to show his friends pictures of his orphanage because he loved it. It was home. The people there were family. It was his life. And what my fear was really saying to them was that it just wasn't good enough.

Their story wasn't worth telling. It is embarrassing. It is shameful. People might not understand it. That was what I was really communicating.

I quickly realized what I was teaching all four of my kids. If it won't be understood or seen as "good enough" then you should hide it. And isn't that what we all think to some extent. 

If it isn't the "ideal" then it isn't good enough to share. Your hobby that isn't "cool". Your bucket list that might seem simple to everyone else. No one breaks out their accordion skills at the office Christmas party. We leave that for the cool hipsters with their guitars. Because who we are and what we bring isn't enough.

So, I decided to help Kevin draw pictures of his orphanage to share with his class for the presentation assignment. There was the blue rectangle shaped building with a courtyard in the middle. A palm tree with coconuts was drawn just right of center in the courtyard. A star for where Kevin's room was. We included the road to get to their school and the chickens who lived in the rear of the orphanage. 

He took that poster board with such pride into school last week. And what followed was a letter to Santa.

The day after Kevin shared his presentation I got an email from his teacher. The class had been given an assignment to write a letter to Santa. This is what one of the other first graders wrote: 

" Dear Santa Claus. I hope you will make it. I hope you can give some toys to the orphanage and dog shelter..."


Sometimes respecting our own story means not sharing it with people. For many adopted or foster children this is the case. Scratch that. Its the case for many people for a million reasons. 

But sometimes respecting our story means sharing it with others. Without shame or fear of not being enough. And when we do there will be moments that people ridicule out of their own insecurities. But there will also be moments where a mind is changed. A perspective is shifted. Compassion is born and love is let in even deeper. 

I don't know your story but whatever it is... it is enough. It is worth sharing. Maybe with a whole classroom or maybe with just one best friend. But you are too good to hide. I do know that.



Liz Griffin5 Comments