Last month, I helped out at the Refresh conference, which is for adoptive and foster parents. It was great—parents received some useful information and training, and they also experienced encouragement and refreshment.
What Do I Have to Offer?
Sometimes I struggle in these kinds of contexts because I don’t have any kids yet, and I’ve never adopted or fostered. I think to myself, “What do I have to offer?” “I have no idea what these folks are going through.” “They would probably be better off being helped by someone who has more experience.”
I was talking to my friend, who also helped out at the conference, and I realized I wasn’t alone in my experience. My friend was on a “dad panel,” and he said he felt something similar. He has one adopted son, but a lot of the dads in the audience had adopted or fostered several children. Also, my friend’s adoption situation was pretty calm, but many of the dads in the audience were going through a more difficult time. My friend wondered if he had anything to offer with his story and experience. He wondered if the dads might be better served by someone who had a more difficult journey or experience.
We All Have a Part to Play
When it comes to serving others in need, we all have a part to play, irrespective of our background and situation. I may not have the experience of an adopted father, but I do have the experience of someone outside the journey who believes it is important to help and support adoptive and foster families. And that’s an important perspective as well. My friend doesn’t have the experience of adopting a lot of kids, but he does have his own journey and experience, which is important. We’re all different, and we each have a unique perspective and part to play.
Working Toward Justice
I have a similar experience when I teach multicultural counseling. Sometimes I wonder if the class would be better if it were taught by a person of color or a woman. “I’m a part of every privileged group,” I think to myself. “What right do I have to teach multicultural counseling?” But again, everyone has a part to play. My perspective and experience as a White person is different from the perspective and experience of a person of color. But that’s okay. We all have a part to play when it comes to building a more respectful and just society.
Find Your Contribution
If you find yourself thinking your perspective doesn’t matter, or isn’t valid, because of your background or situation, I want to encourage you. Just because your perspective is different than another person, it doesn’t mean your perspective isn’t valid or important. In most areas of life, we all have a role to play. Find your unique contribution, and stay focused on that.