When I was a kid I marvelled at how my dad seemed to know everyone. He knew policemen by name. He knew shopkeepers and clerks and was always so friendly and well liked. As I grew up I secretly recognized I would never be that way. I knew that the population is growing so rapidly that the chance of me knowing someone in a "BIG" town like Yakima was remarkably small. I never imagined I would be a member of the community. I knew I would remain an anonymous face that no one would notice.
I was wrong.
When I go to town I routinely see several people I know. I may not know them so well that we go out for drinks, but they know me, I know them, we smile, we talk. Of course, these are places I visit a few times a month. I know the butcher lady at Safeway, because I've spoken to her several times over the past ten years. I know the lady that is the manager at the pizza place we visit maybe five or six times a year...but she's been there for years and we've been visiting for years. I think it's difficult to understand that from a 15 year old's point of view.
Little did I know that I would be part of that larger community. Far from being a person in a back room working on something, I am out there in the public eye. I'm a teacher. I was a substitute for almost nine years. I worked in three districts. I met a lot of people. Some of them I only have the vaguest memory of. I worked at fifteen different schools. It is not unheard of for me to hear, "That's Mister Awesome," to this day when I'm in a store.
Now I teach at a middle school. It's really what I've been waiting for all these many years. I knew when I worked at convenience stores I would not be there forever. I knew I did not want to be there! I knew when I worked at a mill I would not be there forever. I knew when I worked at a half dozen other places I would never be there long. I knew this because I did not match the people I worked with. I remember marvelling at the people whose conversations I overheard on break. "I can't stand my woman." "I'm gonna get a case of beer and drink 'em all tonight." "I passed out and didn't remember where I was..." Although I understood what was going on in their lives, this was not me.. Now, when I go to work, I know these are the people I've been waiting to work with. They care about me. I really care about them. The kids, my students, like me. They seriously care about me. I'm mildly fond of them in return. I'm in a good place.
I never imagined we would adopt from China. We did. And now we're doing it again. Who knew our first daughter would be such an outgoing, spectacularly brilliant and rambunctious child. She has a good heart and people see that. They are attracted to her. Chloe is so authentically sweet, even older kids are attracted by her personality.
Top the whole thing off with the fact that Chloe is adopted, and people seem to feel like we are part of their extended family. I don't quite follow that line of reasoning, but the feeling has not hurt, so I roll with it. So many strangers have reacted so positively that just today one lady was nearly in tears when we told her where we were going on Wednesday. People at banks, stores, and public places are now thinking of us.
We set out on this adoption thing with the sole idea of creating a family. One we envisioned as small and cloistered, much like Cora and I enjoy nightly. Not too many outside influences and just us being a family. We never set out to "save" a child from a life that was horrible. We never set out with "GODLY" intentions. We just wanted a family, and this was the way that was right for us. Did we influence a life positively? Maybe. I sure hope Chloe understands our motivations and that she is loved, but it was for selfish reasons we adopted. We wanted to be parents.
People at work, even those I don't directly work with are excited for us. Strangers are praying for us. Clerks at stores we visit regularly are thinking about us. Former students have wished us well. Students and teachers have found our blog for the first time. I have gotten positive feelings from all. Chloe's friends and teachers are thinking of us. The people at City Hall are excited. The chief of police, whom I know by name (Hey, I figured it out, Dad!), wished us fair travels.
I love this community we are a part of. We are a family of sorts. Soon we will welcome Hailey Grace to join it.