When I was young, I used to watch Sesame Street while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the couch in our living room. Being entertained as only a three or four-year-old boy could, I learned how to spell words like “love” and sing songs that were absolutely ridiculous and make me laugh. Most episodes would have a part in it where some orange or red “monster” would ask the question, “Which one of these objects to not belong?” I would study these objects and shout out the answers, as I understood the process. An apple, an orange, and a banana go together because they are fruits I would tell myself. And the baseball would not belong because it was not a fruit.
When I began to realize that I was adopted, though I had not connected all the dots, I began to ask myself, “Do I really belong to this group of people who seem so much more different than I?” It is a question I often asked myself. I felt like the baseball among the fruits on the table. The red or orange monster said that the baseball did not belong because it was not a fruit. As a young child, that image of being a baseball among the fruits really prevented me from feeling apart of the family God had placed me in.
Before I continue, let me say this: My mom and dad always made me feel like I was apart of the family. I had chores like the rest of them. I ate with them. I had to make my own bed and do my own laundry like the rest of them. I was not favored nor was I pushed aside at any time. I was apart of their family and still remain as such to this day. Growing up though and realizing that you are “different” – the baseball among the fruit – it is hard to believe that you belong.
For one thing, I have this ridiculously big nose. It is wide and stubby. I am also a nice shade of “Casper the pasty ghost” white skin while my brothers and sisters seemed much taller, had nicer complexions, and a “normal nose.” At first, it never really bothered me that I was so different in comparison to my brothers and sisters. “Perhaps I would be taller and have a darker complexion when I got as old as they are” I would think to myself. So I never was concerned about it until I was almost ten years old.
When I was ten, I began to see more differences that separated myself from the rest of my family. I began to talk to “friends” about it. They said maybe I was only making it up so people would be sorry for me or perhaps my dad and mom were not really my mom and dad at all. Perhaps my dad was really the mailman or something. Kids can be so mean. I remember almost getting into a fight with some kid about it at recess.
When I would get home, I would do what any ten-year-old kid would do. I began to snoop around. I did not know exactly what I was looking for but I knew that if there was any information about me laying around the house, I needed to find it and attempt to read it in order to figure out who I was or if I was just making a big deal out of nothing. It was a fantastic attempt. In all my efforts, I can honestly say my drive to continue and search for information about myself was deep and exciting. I felt like a real journeyman in search of finding a deep treasure. The treasure though in this case was my identity
Having no luck, I decided to ask my mom and dad one night about all I have discovered about myself. I told them that I was different and that I felt like a baseball in the mist of a lot of fruit. They just looked at each other and then looked at me. “Tim. We have something to share with you.” Great. I knew I was different. I knew I did not belong to this family. Maybe they kidnapped me and were about to tell me that my family has been looking for me for several years. I just sat and waited for them to speak. “You’re adopted.” I swallowed hard.
They waited to tell me about this process because they wanted me to be old enough to understand. I am glad they did. I had a lot of questions though in which they could not answer. “Who was my real mother?” “Why did she not want me?” “Did I do something wrong?” I was confused even though I was old enough to understand what my parents had just said to me. A lot of questions they could not answer. That bothered me a little.
One thing my parents said to me that helped me relax a little was something so profound that I thought I would share it with you. My dad said, “We love you and we choose for you to be apart of this family. It does not matter that you are different. We are all different in someway shape or form. You belong with this family because you complete us in an amazing way.” I will never forget that conversation we had that night on their bed. It was what I needed to hear. So despite being a baseball among the fruit on the table, I belonged. We are all different in someway. It all depends how we look at it. Even still, being the baseball among the fruit has proven itself to be quite rewarding. I am just glad that I know that it is okay to belong despite being different in so many ways.