It was my second Sunday in a row in Georgia, and I hadn't planned on it. I mean, I hadn't planned on having a second Sunday in Georgia. A large part of me wanted to stay home and sulk, and the rest of me wanted to pack up my mother and Baby J and find an Episcopal church to go to. I was homesick, and wherever I am I always feel at home at mass.
Then Granny M invited us to go to church with her. She wasn't at all pushy about it. I knew that she went somewhere a lot more evangelical than what I am used to these days, something more like the church that I grew up in. There was a time when I wanted nothing to do with anything that even closely resembled the church I grew up in (another story, probably not for this blog) but I have come a long way since then. I also knew from hearing Granny M talk about her church that they were "her people" more than her neighbors or other friends she might have. She had taken Baby J there the first two Sundays of her life, and to a bible study or two as well, and already a couple of folks from church had called to ask about "her baby" and whether or not Baby J was still with her. So I accepted, determined to grin and bear it, to honor the place that this community held in the short part of my daughter's life that I hadn't been around for.
I was really glad that I did. In many ways it was exactly what I had been expecting - church in a gymnasium type set-up with canned worship music and power point slides up front with the lyrics to the songs. (If your church is like this I don't mean to offend, this is just not my preference for worship.) But there was more than one element to the experience that surprised me. They took communion, which apparently happens every week. At one point the congregation sang a gorgeous hymn, a capella, in perfect four part harmony. And while I had braced myself for the sermon (side effect of years of theological education: really hard not to get worked up and critical during sermons, especially in places whose liturgical practice differs from mine a little or a lot) it turns out I didn't need to. The pastor preached on Amos - a book I had just recently read - and in my opinion was spot on. I won't go into it, as this isn't a theology blog, but let's just say I felt convicted and curious. It wasn't the sort of message I expected to hear in the middle of the Bible belt. I was able to report with relief to Papa M (who had been my theological conversation partner for the week) that I really enjoyed the sermon, and thought his preacher was right on.
But there was one jarring thing. It had to do with me and Baby J. Everyone there who came up to us exclaimed over the baby, and was just pleased as punch to meet me. Granny and Papa M are obviously well beloved by their church people, and Granny had an equally wonderful time showing me off. She doesn't often get to share the end of the story with her friends, as most adoptive parents turn down the offer to wait out the interstate paperwork at the M's house. Right before the sermon, however, during announcements, the pastor asked me to stand up and introduced me and Baby J to everyone. This isn't what bothered me - I am perfectly fine being the center of attention. While we were standing he talked about how supportive of adoption their congregation is, and how they have something like 22 families built through adoption in their midst. Very cool, I thought.
"That baby is just so lucky to have you, Alissa," The pastor continued. "We need more people like you to open their homes and hearts in such a special and selfless way to this world's children."
If I had been in possession of a microphone I would have cleared that up right there. Selfless? Oh no. We went on our quest for Baby J for the most selfish of reasons - we wanted a child, a baby even, in our family. Even then, a mere week into knowing her, I was very clear on who the lucky one was in this situation. Put quite simply, it's me.
That kind pastor is not the only person who has commented on how "lucky" our baby is. It rubs me the wrong way every time and I've been thinking about why. Part of it is covered in this post, from my series on the TAC Bill of Rights. But there's something else.
A couple of days ago a friend of mine said of Baby J, "I gotta say, she sure landed in a good spot!"
That didn't bother me. I think it's because it was a statement about us, and not a statement about Baby J. I don't mind at all when people tell us we will be good parents. I feel complimented and flattered. After all we'd have to be somewhat pathological to go through the whole adoption process if we thought we'd be bad at it. But I do mind when they make assumptions about my child's life, which is largely unwritten still. She doesn't need those projections - and she should have the space to decide for herself just how lucky she is or isn't. I expect she'll feel differently about it in different phases of her life.
Back in my rock n roll days, when I had just started seeing Andrew, I wrote a song about him, about the sweetness of the first few months of falling in love when the perfection of being together is overwhelming and endless. We would argue about who was luckier to be in our relationship, and when he had gone home I would moon about marveling that anyone felt so good about being with me. (Forever blessings on our friends who tolerated us through that time, we were completely ridiculous.)
Lately that song has been stuck in my head, mostly the refrain, which is also the title of this post. Being in love means a lot of things, but part of what it means for me, with both my husband and my daughter, is that I am absolutely sure who the lucky one is in this family. And it's me.
Here's the song, just for fun. It's called True Romance, after the first movie Andrew and I ever watched together. It was written in 2004, and it is straight up fluffy pop, just to warn you. A special shout-out to my ladies who wrote it with me: Carly (vocals and guitar), Jenny (bass), and Amy (keyboards). I am on drums, of course.