My Nana is, well, Nana.
She doesn't put on airs. If she thinks something - like, for example, "not all black people are dumb. I know a smart one" - she says it, no matter how reprehensible it is.
Lest you think she's just opposed to one people group, I'll have you know that she advised me back in 2004 not to bother on my grant application for a classroom library because my students were Mexicans and didn't need books anyway. I've heard her tell waitresses outright, "I know you can't help it, but I just don't care for you" or "You really ought to wear a different outfit because that one makes you look a little heavy, dear." (Those waitresses were white too; imagine what she might have said if they weren't.)
Yep, that's Nana. Offending people since 1922. Bless her heart.
(Well, probably 1924 or so, since I'm guessing she wasn't born talking.)
When we shared our plans to adopt with her in generalities before we even knew about Zoe, we knew her response wouldn't be favorable.
So what's this business about adoption? You two make beautiful children, so you shouldn't bother with raising someone else's kids. Those kids could have something wrong with them too, you know, like special needs.Oh, Nana.
When we told her about Zoe, she sighed. "Well," she paused. "I wish you luck with that." Then she spent the months leading up to Zoe's arrival telling us about every person with special needs she ever knew, specifically how much they had ruined the lives of their families and everyone else around them.
Then, when we brought Zoe to Nana's house for the first time, she ignored our new daughter. "Nana, this is Zoe," was met with a turned back, a walk into the other room, and absolutely no acknowledgement of our child for the first hour of the visit. Even then, her first comment was, "So, how old is that baby?"
I'm not going to lie and say her words didn't sting a bit. But I wasn't too bothered by them, and we were able to laugh off most.
Why? Well, first, I have no idea how I'd perceive adoption and ethnicity if I had been born in 1922 instead of 1982.
Most importantly, though, I don't expect everyone to have the same call on their lives that God has placed on ours. Nana didn't adopt Zoe, so she's not required to love her the way we are. I'm asked to be faithful to what God has set before us, not to demand that other people agree with me or Him.
But this last visit?
It was different.
Zoe was acknowledged.
Connections were made.
Dare I say, love began.
(1 Corinthians 13:7)
It wasn't a perfect visit, but maybe, just maybe it was the start of something precious.