A Different Kind of Normal
Everybody wants to be normal. Not most everybody â€“ EVERYBODY. At least that’s the conclusion I have come to, and, barring any abnormal definitions of ‘normal’ or ‘everybody,’ I am still looking for the exception to this rule.
Different Like Everybody Else
Now I know as soon as I make such a bold statement someone will pipe up and say, ‘Not me! I’m different and I’m proud of it. I am my own man â€“ a maverick, a lone ranger. I don’t conform to anyone’s standard. I could care less about being normal.’ To which I would reply, ‘Oh really. What, do you ride a Harley or have holes in your jeans or have messy hair or like to sky dive or paint your torso blue and act crazy at football games â€“ just like thousands of other guys?’ No matter how different, no matter how out of the ordinary, abnormal or nonconformist you think you are or try to be, the reality is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of others, in solidarity with you. And the truth is that deep down we like that because it makes us feel, well, normal â€“ even if in a weird sort of way.
So I stand by my statement â€“ everybody wants to be normal.
At the same time I should be clear that I am not denying that people want to express their uniqueness at times and in various ways, or suggesting that everybody wants to be identical to those around them. Rather, it is simply my way of observing that we all want to fit in (with someone or some group); we all want to feel connected; we all want to identify with others and have them identify with us. Simply put, we don’t want to be an ‘oddball,’ ‘out of sync,’ ‘missing out’ or ‘out to lunch’ â€“ especially on the things that matter most.
Is Adoption Normal?
So you may be wondering â€“ what exactly does this have to do with adoption or foster care. I’m glad you asked. See, I think that one of the main reasons that people generally don’t (or don’t want to) adopt is because they don’t see it as ‘normal.’ I think this is particularly true of guys. It just doesn’t feel normal to them. It isn’t normal in their family, in their group of friends, among their co-workers, at their church or whatever. In other words, it isn’t familiar, it isn’t comfortable, and therefore it isn’t normal.
It all leaves me wondering just how many people never follow through or get very far in terms of adoption, even possibly resisting God’s clear call to pursue adoption, because it just doesn’t seem ‘normal.’ Maybe they are not connected to others that are doing it or, equally important, that have done it, and as a result they are (understandably) somewhat afraid that if they adopt that others will not be able to identify with them, nor they with others, in several important ways.
Discovering a Different Kind of Normal
If I am honest I can understand where folks are coming from in concluding that adoption is not ‘normal.’ After all, adoption does in many ways seem to rearrange the ‘natural’ order of things. It is by its nature a recognition that something has been broken somehow, somewhere; that something has gone awry. But on the other hand, adoption is tangible proof that hope, healing and redemption aren’t just ideas or fuzzy concepts â€“ they are real.
I have come to realize that we generally view as ‘normal’ that with which we are familiar and comfortable. Therefore, relatively recent changes in adoption, not the least of which are the dramatic increases in international, transracial and open adoptions, are causing adoption and adoptive families to become more obvious and, as a result, more and more ‘normal.’
Seven years ago adoption was not normal to me. When we chose to adopt I was not close to a single person that had been adopted. I am not even sure that I knew anyone who had been adopted. I certainly had a favorable view of adoption, as most people do. But it was a conceptual view. After all, it seems rather hard to be negative about the concept of adoption.
But what I have come to discover, based on my own experience and in talking with countless other guys about adoption, is that the more time I spend around others who have adopted, the more ‘normal’ it all seems. The more I read about how others have dealt with the unique challenges that adoptive families face, the more comfortable I feel with the challenges that lie ahead for my kids and and our family. With each passing day I realize more and more that, for the most part, my family and other adoptive families are simply like every other ‘normal’ family, with just a few differences here and there. I guess you could say that we are just a different kind of normal.