So...there is a family at our church...the Toma family. A number of months ago, they talked to me about transracial adoption. They were already in the process of adopting in the foster care system of Florida and were being considered for an african-American girl. As my only experience in transracial adoption involved having adopted a daughter from China, I do not declare myself an expert. I suggested they trust their instinct and their ability to open their hearts. At first, it seemed that child would not be the child for them, as the foster mother decided to adopt her. Then, the foster mother changed her heart and the little girl, Harmony, began visiting with the Tomas. Everyone fell in love.
As Harmony moved in with the Tomas, the question arose whether to change her name. Harmony is a perfectly lovely name, but the Toma wife/mother is Melody. Too kitschy? Would people think the Tomas named her so as to have Melody and Harmony together? How would this naming affect big sister, Karla, who would be out of the musical naming group? It was decided that the little one had had quite enough change in a brief lifetime and Harmony would remain.
Today, I traveled to the downtown Duval County courthouse with this family along with some of their neighborhood friends. We pulled up in a limo and scrambled out of it into the 95 degree heat of Jacksonville. We took pictures at the riverside....a bunch of dressed up white folk with a black as pitch toddler in a fancy dress and a bow in her hair. Harmony smiled from ear to ear. She gave out hugs willingly, but would return to cling to her Mama and Papa.
Following the brief service, I was invited to offer a prayer. The judge (Judge Gooding) suspended the proceedings of the court and invited me to join him and the Tomas at the front of the courtroom. What an honor and a blessing it was for me to be part of the day. Thank you Toma family. There will be the hardships all families experience yet to come. Today, a celebration!
Prayer at the Adoption of
Harmony Kiehl Toma
August 11, 2011
You made us in love and for love. By your imagination, you form families in different ways, through birth, through adoption, through fostering, through marriage…..
By your sense of humor, you gift us with smiles for each other and with the ability to laugh at the smallest expressions and movements.
By your providence, you place in our arms exactly the child and parents and siblings that will complete us.
By your steadfast love, you equip us with what is needed to live in that family: patience, wisdom, care, gentleness, understanding and more patience.
Where there is woundedness, sow healing.
Where there is abandonment, sow fulfillment.
Where there is emptiness, sow an everlasting bond.
We pray this morning for families all over. May their hearts break open and receive your children through adoption.
We pray for perseverance and courage for families who are in the often lengthy and often frustrating adoption process.
We pray for our government and agencies and the governments of other countries that the adoption process may be made ever and ever easier: that the adoption process not be a yoke to bear, but a glorious time of re-union for your children.
We pray for the day that there is no need for adoption, when hunger and thirst cease for your children and when no one raises a hand or weapon against brother or sister. Restore your creation.
As the Toma family expands, may their joy expand and be a witness to others. Bless Karla in her role as big sister. Bless Jeff in his role as father of two and lone male in the house and bless Melody in her role as mother extraordinaire.
Let Harmony not only dwell in their household, but sing and dance and love with abandon throughout their house and beyond, all the days of their lives.
Rev. Laurie Furr-Vancini