Character v/s Color
Alright, so I figured it’s time I introduce you to my beautiful amazing family, and help you get to know me a little better.
I am originally from Liberia, West Africa. I was born and raised there the first seven years of my life. I was raised only by my mother, because my father passed away three months after I was born. I wasn’t informed of this truth until my whole adoption process was over- which as you can imagine, brought another mountain I had to climb. Life in Liberia seemed great and wonderful because that was all I knew. I was too young to see things as they really were but… maybe that was a blessing in disguise by the almighty God. Everything seemed great and normal. I hadn’t ever experienced anything else so there was no room to wonder. To me then, nothing could be better than this, at least that was until I was introduced to what would become some of the saddest experiences of my life: My orphaned experiences.
I was sent to an orphanage around the age of five or six, and that was when my whole life flipped to its worst (at least that’s what it felt like to me). The experience of being raised in an orphanage for almost two years of my life was very hard for me. And though I definitely saw God's hands helping me and certainly carrying me many times, it still didn't change what I was physically, emotionally and mentally going through. I felt abandoned by my mom, the only person I knew, and who I thought I could look to for safety and protection- but It seemed I was wrong.
Though I had no idea why my mom didn’t want me anymore or why she placed me in that orphanage with no warning, it ended up becoming a blessing in the end.
I was lucky to be adopted by two wonderful American parents whose hearts are angelic. The first time I met them was through a photo album (which was actually the wrong one😀). By the time I got the right photo album, it was my adopted father who was handing it over to me. So prior to this I had no idea exactly where I was being adopted and most importantly, what family I’d be walking blindly too. I had no fear of the unknown, and that was probably because I was too young to understand, and also because I’d been through so much already.
When I first met my adopted Father it just felt right. I was so happy to meet him. He was this 5”11 American man who had such a sweet smile and warm energy. He seemed happy to have traveled all the way to be with me so that was enough for me. After picking me up from the orphanage, we stayed in Liberia for a week touring around. During our adventures we bought traditional African clothes for my other family members and some other cool stuff. After that we made our long journey to what I would later learn was the United States, my forever new home.
On our plane flight home I was introduced to what tuna with mayonnaise on crackers tasted like, and my taste buds were so happy😀 It was just the beginning of a wonderful but hard life.
When my adopted father and I got off the plane my new family were in the airport excitedly waiting to meet me. As my dad and I walked up to them I was a bit shy and stood a bit behind his legs, but that didn’t stop my family from introducing themselves to me. As I looked at each of them, I knew this was right. Though I was only seven years old, the feeling I got from them felt like we were meant to be. I remember my adopted mom was wearing blue jeans, with a sky blue shirt which had an American flag on it. She hugged me and I was happy. I couldn’t believe all of these people wanted me, and came so far to get me. I had so many sisters and one little brother. I even had grandparents there. I’d never known what it was like to have so much love because I was never taught it, nor shown it often. Though I didn’t quite know what love really was or how to express it, I knew at the least the happiness I was feeling inside my weary seven year old body, had to somehow contribute to what love meant and felt like.
First meet my Parents, Eric and Lisa Hays. 100% the most loving, caring, forgiving, and Christlike Characteristic people you’ll EVER meet. They took me in and treated me as though I was biologically theirs. They never changed who they were because of what I was or what I’d been through. They led and taught me with love, patience, and understanding. Yes, there were many times where we weren’t on the same page, and many times where I’d acted out because of the trauma I’d experienced. I was just waiting for that day when they couldn’t do it any more and were ready to get rid of me but… that day never came- because their character NEVER changed.
I knew I was different. I knew I would never be like all my other siblings or friends I tried to make, and that was so HARD for me. It took me awhile to except that fact, and just be myself. I felt this pressure that I needed to be like all the other kids I was surrounded by. Though I tried and tried, I found myself messing up or just not fitting in. Many times when people saw COLOR, my parents saw CHARACTER. Many times when I saw COLOR, my parents saw CHARACTER. They saw more in me than I ever saw in myself. I had no idea what I could become- or how possible it was for me to be more than just the “adopted black girl from Africa”. The potential my parents saw scared me because nobody ever looked at me like that before, nor expected so much of me. Nobody ever saw more than a child who’s life was quite messed up. My own birth mother never looked at me the way my adopted parents did nor did she ever push me to be more, like my adopted parents did. I mean it could be because I was so young to see what she saw in me, but… I guess I’ll never know.
You know what was so crazy about the whole Color v/s Character thing? The whole time my parents were raising me to not let my past define me or to not let my differences be a stumbling block, there were many people who had the nerves to approach my parents, telling them ‘because they were “White” they would not know how to raise a “Black” daughter’. Etc ect ect. Can you imagine how terrible and incapable that made my parents feel? How could people say such things? In case they weren’t feeling inadequate by such a responsibility.
It wasn’t till I was a bit older that my mom ever shared some of these discriminating things people said to her. My heart just sunk in sadness and disbelief. How could people say that about my parents when they didn’t even know them? How could people be so heartless? They had no idea what I’d been through nor the many sleepless nights my parents prayed to know how to best raise me in the Lord.
I’m thankful to my Father in heaven that my mom and dad never once looked at me, or treated me as “Black” but loved me like all their other children. Of course this didn’t mean I didn’t see myself as “just the Black daughter”. There were many sleepless tearful nights where I felt so different I couldn’t bear it. Not because of what my parents or siblings did, but just because of my own trials I was facing, and would face for the rest of my life. I knew the path of becoming who God needed me to be was going to be extremely hard for me, but the love of my family made it worthwhile. Because they saw me as a person and not as color, I slowly began to know what love really was, and how it felt like.
MEET MY SIBLINGS!
Not sure where to begin here but, I truly believe I was blessed with THE BEST sibling in the world. I’m not just saying that because they are my family but because they are just naturally incredible human beings!
This picture here above⬆️ is a newer and more updated photo with more of us in it. When I was first adopted my parents only had seven kids, but in that upper picture all sixteen of us are in it. This is what all of my siblings looked like when I was first adopted⬇️
I was so happy to be surrounded by so many sisters and a little brother. I felt love right away by all of them. Their smiles were warm and exciting. They were all so excited to show me around, play games with me and just have fun together. I was just so amazed at how easy it was to be around them and like that feeling. I forgot all about my life before, like none of it ever happened. I never ever felt judged when I was around them. They made me feel like I could be myself.
I know with all my heart that we were meant to be siblings and I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people. Each of them taught me a life lesson I’ll never forget.
Emily, my oldest sister, taught me to be myself and not change to be someone else.
Mishaela, my second older sister, taught me to be bold and brave.
Abby, My third older sister, taught me the importance of creativity staying strong.
Lizzy taught me what it is like to dream, and to let my spirit run wild.
Katie, my younger sister, taught me to grow positively and to choose wisely.
Rachael, another younger sister, taught me how precious life is and to always correct others with love and gentleness.
Cassie , my younger sister, taught me to never give up and to always stay sweet & beautiful.
Nicki taught me to never take advantage of life, but to live every moment with gratitude.
Nevaeh, my younger sister, taught me to be tough, but that it’s also good to be vulnerable.
My brother Eric taught me to always push myself to be better and never stop having fun.
Mary taught me what it’s like to fight for life, to choose love first, and to forgive the hurts.
Braelyn, taught me laughter is great medicine, and that love never ends.
Hannah taught me that it’s ok to spoil myself, but to also love and cherish myself.
Sofia taught me to always be happy and excited about life, and love all the moments.
Ruby, my youngest sister, taught me love is easy and possible, and that everyone deserves it.
With all these many lessons I’ve learned, and continue to learn, I’m grateful to the Lord for my siblings. They never judged me for being different or for the struggles I went through. They excepted me for who I was, and helped me to be better. No, we aren’t always on the same page, but we always make sure we’re there for one another. I love my siblings and I’m thankful they love me too.
I feel blessed to be where I am, and surrounded by family. I’m grateful to God for the chance he’s given me to a new life and better opportunities.
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Though this post is about how my family has been a huge support to me, continue to follow me to hear my whole orphanage experiences. I’d definitely love to dive deeper into what life in an orphanage was like for me, in an upcoming post. Make sure to subscribe and share my blog to keep up with me and how my experiences have helped me become who I am today.