Monday, February 05, 2007

Bluegrass and Baptism...

We took Gabriel and Lana to the Museum on Friday night. Our art museum has special events every Friday night, and the museum is open until 10:00 PM on those nights. Gabriel had been studying “France” at school the week before last, and, as part of that study, he and his classmates had painted their own versions of Monet’s Water Lilies. Since then, Gabe has been asking to go downtown to the museum to see one of the real Water Lilies (his teacher told the class that we have one of Water Lilies series here). So, on Friday afternoon, David brought Gabe and Lana downtown, and I met them at the museum after work. They were waiting for me at the entrance, and when I walked through the doors Lana came rushing at me, her arms wide, her face grinning, hooting “Mommy!!!!!!!” at the top of her lungs. It was cute. And also loud. We got “shushed” by the guard. We walked around the museum and Gabe was extremely impressed with the Water Lilies. He sat on the bench across from the painting (it is a very large painting) and stared at it for several minutes. Then he said, “It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?” He also liked looking at the other impressionist paintings in the museum collection, and some of the hyperrealism and of course he loved the sarcophagus in the Egyptian collection, as all children seem to. He was less impressed with 16th Century European art. I don’t blame him. At 6:30 we walked over the Cloisters section of the museum, because they were having a Bluegrass band playing. Can I say that Lana is not impressed with bluegrass music? Gabriel, on the other hand, loves bluegrass music and was having a great time listening to the band, and asked David to ask the band to play “Big Rock Candy Mountain” – which is a song from one of the “O Brother Where Art Thou” CDs that is pretty much Gabriel’s favorite song in life. Since Lana was not enjoying the music, I decided to take her and head off to meet our friend Shelly, who was babysitting a child who is going to be in Lana’s preschool class. (Well, rather, a child is WHO is the class that Lana is GOING to be in.) Lana and A~ (the other little girl) played for about an hour. I hope that they will be good friends, as A~ lives less than 2 minutes from our house, and since they will be in the same class, I think it would be convenient for them to become good friends. (And yes, I’m just the kind of person who would choose my child’s friends based on convenience for me. Shoot me.) I was glad that they had a good time playing together, as attempting to leave the museum without David and Gabriel with us resulted in a crying fit. The fit subsided during the car ride, thank goodness, so, by the time we got to A~’s house, she was not screaming or crying anymore. I should mention that we stopped (Lana and I) to get some dinner at Wendy’s (between the museum and A~’s house.) Lana’s foster mother described her to us as a “watchful child” and it really is an appropriate description of Lana much of the time. She watches people very intently. While we were at Wendy’s, she was openly staring at a man who was eating there with his small son. She was quietly eating and following the man with her eyes. It was like she couldn’t take her eyes off of him, and then it occurred to me that she may not have ever seen a black man before. (There are black students in her class at pre-school, but, she has only seen the children, not their parents, since she and David have been visiting the school in the late mornings when no parents are around.) The man, who had his hands full with a cranky toddler, did not seem to notice, and I’m glad he didn’t because I’m afraid that it might have come off as rudeness instead of curiosity. __________________________________________________________

Yesterday morning we took Lana to church for the first time. She balked at going to children’s chapel with Gabriel (we expected as much), so, she sat with us through the service. We were at 9:15 service which is a family friendly service, where people don’t mind so much if there is a fussy or squirmy child. She mostly sat on David’s lap, and she was quite shocked when the organ began the processional hymn. After her initial shock, she opened her mouth now and then and pretended to sing. (She also pretends to sing when I sing to her.) She was, as usual in new situations, very watchful. However, she did make noise one time…oh my. My ten year old niece was sitting next to her, and they were drawing pictures on a bulletin. My niece drew a picture of Jesus (standard oval head, smile, with a beard), and Lana looked at it and excitedly pronounced, “Bac Ho!! Bac Ho!!” Jesus Christ as Ho Chi Minh, who would have thunk it? Fortunately, I don’t think anyone in the congregation knew what she meant! During announcements, Father P~ introduced Lana to the congregation. Next week, we are going to have a blessing over her adoption during the service. It’s a short blessing, but, I feel, for me at least, this is very important. Here are the words:

Dear Friends: It has pleased God our heavenly Father to answer the earnest prayers of N. [and N.], member(s) of this Christian family, for the gift of a child. I bid you join with them [and with N. (and N.N.), who now has a new brother (sister)] in offering heartfelt thanks for the joyful and solemn responsibility which is theirs by the coming of N. to be a member of their family. But first, our friends wish us, here assembled, to witness the inauguration of this new relationship.

[The Celebrant asks the parent or parents]

N. [and N.], do you take this child for your own?

[Parent(s)] I do.

[When if the child is old enough to answer, the Celebrant asks]

N., do you take this woman as your mother?
[Child] I do.
[Celebrant] Do you take this man as your father?
[Child] I do.

[Then the Celebrant, holding or taking the child by the hand, gives the child to the mother or father, saying]

As God has made us his children by adoption and grace, may you receive N. as your own son (daughter).

[Then one or both parents say these or similar words]

May God, the Father of all, bless our child N., and us who have given to him our family name, that we may live together in love and affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Anyway, it is very important to me that we have this blessing, quite literally in front of God and everyone. I cannot put my finger on why this is so very very very important to me, but, it is. So, we will have it, next Sunday.

After the service, we also had a long conversation with Father P~ about whether or not to baptize Lana at this time. We are members of a congregation that practices infant baptism and adolescent confirmation of that baptism. (I know that some are opposed to infant baptism, but, this is what is normal for us.)

However, Lana is obviously not an infant, but, neither is she old enough to request baptism on her own. After some discussion, we decided that we will baptize her now. Our reasoning (which some may disagree with) is that we baptized Gabriel when he was less than 3 months old, before he knew or understood anything about faith, ergo, why should we refrain from baptizing Lana, who also, at this point, also has no understanding about faith? (We are making an assumption that Lana was not actively involved in any other faith with her foster family. It is possible that we are wrong about this. It is possible that she was Buddhist, Roman Catholic, or even a follower of Cao Dai ( a religion unique to Vietnam that blends Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism.) But, we tend to think that she was not, for a variety reasons, the largest being that she (her foster mom) didn’t mention it to us. We talked to her foster mom for quite some time, and she told us her daily schedule and what she likes to do. She never mentioned any kind of religious activity, so, we are assuming there was none.

I do realize that this is a choice that David and I are making FOR LANA, and that one day she may choose to reject that choice. But, on the other hand, it was also a choice that we made FOR GABRIEL. And he too may reject our choice. That is what free-will is about. But, I cannot justify making one choice for my son and not making the same choice for our daughter. She’ll no doubt be ticked about the water on her hair…

More later, LM

7 Comments:

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Monday, February 05, 2007 1:23:00 PM  
Blogger jenn said...

Wonderful to be finding friends and ones that live close by are great!
Glad you amde it to church and are doing the baptisim and adoption recognition. Lana is your child now and it is as natural to want to have the adoption blessed as it would be to want to have the birth of a child blessed.
Let us know how it goes and I hope she doesn't get upset at the water in her hair!

Monday, February 05, 2007 1:28:00 PM  
Blogger Django Sexton said...

Remarkable. I've been thinking a lot about your story, and I've been amazed at how not giving her the antibiotic (which you felt guilty about) turned out to be the right thing to do. She may have had a UTI on the journey, but at least she wasn't having a scary allergic reaction!

ds

Monday, February 05, 2007 2:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Christina/Mrs. Broccoli Guy said...

I love that blessing... it's like a wedding only for adoption. I totally understand why it's important to you. Shoot, I wish our church did something like that! We plan to get Zeeb dedicated (as we did the other 3) but haven't found the right time yet... and it's starting to feel like we waited too long, so we should probably get to it already. Anyway, all that to say I understand why you are baptizing her as you did your son.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 12:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My litttle girl was older too. We had the baptism, and then had a big party for her at her godmothers house. Everyone got to meet her. Not exactly recommended in the adoption books, but I thought it was important for her, family, & friends to make her entrance into our lives official. We got her a beautiful white dress and also a crown & veil.
For invitations I had really good photos of her in her dress and crown and had them done online at Shutterfly.
It was a wonderful party and she loved it. I thought I would end up holding her most of the time but after other children arrived she took off.
Being Catholic it was very important to me. In fact we baptised her ourselves as soon as we got back from the orphanage in the tub in our hotel. Talk about getting the full treatment she got RID for lice, scabies cream, and baptised all at the same time. It was nice to have it officialy done in a church. I got the thank you notes done at Shutterfly too.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger La Turista said...

I was baptized Catholic as an infant, explored other faiths as a young adult, and eventually wound up back in the Catholic Church - all with my parents' support. I think starting your children on a path that is familiar to you, and then letting them find their own way when they are ready, is smart, so I can totally understand your decision. And that blessing is so lovely!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I fully support your decision to baptize Lana, and I am sure that at some point soon she will not confuse Christ with Ho Chi Minh (gotta admit, I got a real chuckle out of that). Is the service of recognition/blessing you shared with us in the BCP? I would love to use the same service for our future child.

Thursday, February 08, 2007 12:29:00 PM  

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