A Dream Fulfilled
I must begin by acknowledging that in America, as 2014 begins, the nation’s racial tensions are not all sorted out. Travon Martin/George Zimmerman and Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin are high profile reminders that there is a long way to go before society is truly free of racial strife. I don’t believe we will get there on this side of Heaven.
To this acknowledgement, I add that though racism is still alive and well, American society has come a long way since August 28, 1963. On that day, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “I have a dream.” I believe in a small way, his dream has been fulfilled, a bit. And I don’t say this because America has a black president although that is also a sign of how far America has come.
I offer my own testimony, the prophetic, Gospel-based dream fulfilled in my own little nook in the world.
It was about 6:30AM this morning. I was washing dishes, making hot tea, getting my kids breakfast ready and reading the morning newspaper. I was standing at the sink, scrubbing plates, listening to the “Mike and Mike” show. I was half paying attention to my son Henry when I heard, “… and all the little black girls hold hands with all the little white girls.” And then he giggled and said it again.
It took a minute or two before I realized he had heard the “I have a Dream” speech at school and he was quoting it! He was finishing his Cheerios and quoting that speech. He muttered something about “Montgomery, Alabama,” and I knew. (By the way, Kudos to Northside Elementary School; if the school has my son quoting that speech then major props to the school - http://nes.chccs.k12.nc.us/).
As thrilled as I am that Henry who is in 1st grade was quoting M.L. King, that is not the reason I would have the audacity to suggest Dr. King’s speech is fulfilled. It is the composition of our family. Henry and our preschool daughter Merone are black, both adopted from Ethiopia. Our son Igor is white, adopted from Russia. Our family represents Dr. King’s dream.
This is no claim of greatness for us. Candy and I did not set out to be an example. We wanted the same thing millions of couples want – to be parents. We thought the best way for us to be parents was through adoption. We decided upon international adoption. For reasons beneficial to us, we decided to adopt from Russia and then Ethiopia. All three of our adoptions are selfish acts in that each time we were seeking blessings for ourselves. (And we have been blessed more than we could have imagined).
This morning, though, as I heard Henry, thoughts flooded through my mind. He has no idea why Dr. King’s speech was so important. He has no sense of being afraid of people because they are white and might hate him for being black. He could not even conceive of such a notion. The two people Henry and Merone run to when they are scared are, to them, the safest people in the world; their parents. Their white parents. Their only parents.
I think Dr. King would have loved that. When he gave that speech, the tensions in cities like Chicago and Memphis and Montgomery boiled over. To see a white and a black person in an embrace was scandalous. He would have been thrilled to see a world in which people can love each other because God is love and God calls us to love each other.
Incidentally, I also think our adoption of Igor would bring joy to Dr. King. He lived during the worst moments of the Cold War – Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam War. Dr. King’s thirst for justice and brotherhood transcended issues of black and white. An American family embracing a Russian boy also brings his dream to life.
I must reiterate; nothing I am writing hear is a reflection on the nobility of Rob and Candy Tennant. We are two people who wanted to be parents. Thanks to the world forged by the work of God in the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others who worked with him and came along after him, we were able to become parents to an ethnically, racially diverse family.
We have enjoyed the harvest of the Dr. King’s planting. He put the seed in the ground. Now in 2014, the yield is family – families like ours where parents who need kids are matched with kids who need homes. And a black 6-year-old delights his white father’s heart by giggling as he recites “… I have a dream.” The pain and suffering of the civil rights era give way to the laughter of a child, a child free of racial fears. Thank you, Dr. King, for sharing your dream with the world.