So for the next three years a child with a family that loved her sat in an orphanage. She became one of many children cared for by multiple caregivers a day that came and went and picked up their paychecks at the end of the month. She got three nutritious meals a day and toys donated from America to play with and the occasional trip to town for ice cream, but she lacked a child’s greatest need- a family to love her. She watched adoptive parents arrive to take their kids home and was left wondering where her family was and why she wasn’t with them. Essentially, an orphan had been created.
I get the feeling that those of us who have been paying insane premiums and deductibles, those of us who couldn’t afford those premiums and have lived under the threat of medically-induced bankruptcy, we’re used to dealing with frustration far more intense. The website won’t load? Okay, I’ll try it again in an hour. And if I still can’t access it? I’ll keep trying. And then I’ll try again. A fifteen minute wait on the phone? I’ll use the time I’m on hold to do an impromptu square dance in the kitchen BECAUSE MY CHILD AND I FINALLY GET ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE YES MY CAPS LOCK GOT STUCK TODAY.
We were taught that whether we want to admit it our not. That’s a lesson we learned at the knee of this idyllic childhood-party-sweets-holiday mentality. If we don’t want to raise kids who struggle with the food issues of our generation we need to stop the constant association of positive social events and sugar.
Not only do I obsess over being culturally aware of all black-hair-rules and want everyone to like me and believe that I won’t mess up the brown kids by raising them with my white skin …. I am also some sort of freak because it doesn’t bother me one bit to take my white kid into WalMart looking like she just went zoomin* on the crystal*. Fact is, I don’t care what any of the people think of how the white kid looks. There isn’t self-imposed pressure to get it right with her.
Asking me about why I look exotic or questioning my background as soon as we’re introduced is unsophisticated. It’s something I assumed would end as I grew into adulthood and that, as a child, I looked forward to never answering again. It surprises me that it continues to happen because it’s just so basic. A woman in the grocery store stopped me last week and asked so I turned it back on her and asked where she was from but she missed my point. I asked again. “No, where are YOU from?” and she kept saying she was from here and that she was American and I rolled my eyes and walked away.
Every moment given to me feels like a precious gift. In the daylight I live that gift. My children’s faces are chapped from too many kisses, their ribs sore from fierce hugs. Somehow I feel as though I’m trying to fill a cup so full with love that it will carry my children through a lifetime. But if I’m believing the truth and thinking on Jesus, I know my love is merely an extension of His great, abundant, reckless love. That love transcends me. That is a love that can truly carry my children through whatever they face. In the night, I struggle to remember. In the night, I forget about the gain of heaven and I merely long to stay and live Christ. The best thing about Jesus is that He knows. He asked for the cup to be passed from him. He knows. He longs to hear my tears in the night. And every morning I wake to His new mercies and the sweet faces He has granted me to love.
Racism requires power to turn bigotry into coded difference. Anti-black and anti-white bigotry are not the same because history happened. Black people in this country were kept as slaves, and then Jim Crow happened, and that wasn’t that long ago, and then overt discrimination was in some cases illegal but it still existed in all sorts of arenas like hiring and access to housing and health care and healthy food and laws that treated crack cocaine (black and poor) differently than powdered cocaine (white and rich) in sentencing. The predatory lending that led to the 2008 financial crisis disproportionately affected black families and individuals. Blacks and whites use marijuana at the same rate, but black people are several times more likely to go be arrested for it. Anti-black bigotry is racist because there are still systems of power that consistently punish, or kill, black bodies in ways that white bodies are not punished or killed. Believe the studies. Or believe the stories. Either way, it’s time to reckon with the truth.
This issue is not only limited to the context of international adoption, and let me make some things clear. I know a whole host of good parents who have engaged in the practice of international adoption. Some of them have asked hard questions to ensure that their adoptions are as ethical as can be. Others have wrestled with the questions after-the-fact, have made no excuses or theological rationalizations but have rested in God’s grace. That being said, and in light of the recent attacks on the evangelical orphan movement, I’ve been noticing an uptick in the sovereignty argument—God sovereignly ordained that I adopt my child from insert-the-name-of-foreign-country, and so I need not ask any other questions; I trust in God regardless of the supposed inequities to my fellow man.
Regardless of whether I’m really on Black Twitter or not, I feel richer for being a part of these conversations that deal with race, and to be able to have my ear to what people are feeling and thinking, especially during a time when people of color are feeling like they’re getting it thrown in their faces that their cries of racism are unwarranted. It helps me to grow and learn and accept the not so pretty reality of where things really are when it comes to the way people are viewing race and racism in 2013.
Perhaps some people think that brainwashing is an exaggeration, but I, and others, have seen profound and frightening changes in people they would never have imagined possible. What is brainwashing? In the ’50s and ’60s when there were red-scare movies like The Manchurian Candidate—those movies showed how someone could be led to act against their own beliefs and their own interests. My father voted against his own interests as do many of these Fox viewers and right-wing radio listeners. How is that different from the notion of brainwashing?
I’ve received e-mails that I suck because obviously Lainey is my favorite child. And I suck because Nella is my favorite child. And good God, those poor girls, obviously Dash is my favorite child! I’ve gained weight! I’m too skinny! Too much writing/not enough pictures. Too many pictures/not enough writing! I can’t believe your friends are okay with you writing about them—way to exploit them! You don’t write about your friends anymore, you must not have any! Here’s the awesome thing I’ve learned about ill-constructed and poorly given criticism: They all cancel each other out!
It’s not so much about actual sex and it’s not about sexual abuse. It’s much bigger than that. I’m angry and frustrated and appalled at the way my children – particularly my daughter – are being bombarded by a single message: your value as a person is directly indexed to how sexy you look. And looking sexy is not only desirable, it’s become the baseline expectation of normal at an earlier and earlier age.
“We think that by simply giving people things that we enjoy – like soccer balls or shoes – that we are somehow doing good,” Costello notes. “And I think that we really need to start questioning that a lot more, and figuring out is there something we can do that is a lot more effective? [Are] consumer products what a impoverished community needs?”
The preacher spoke about orphans, how Jesus lifted them up. He described an epidemic, “alarming numbers of African-American children who need us.” Then he introduced Davion, who shuffled to the pulpit. Without looking up, Davion wiped his palms on his pants, cleared his throat, and said: “My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born… . I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”
Adoptees want to belong. They want to connect and feel connected. Like everyone else, adoptees strive to find connection and acceptance. Although this idea of affiliation is sometimes inherent with those we are biologically related to, adoptees can find connection through support groups, interaction with other adoptees or identification with their birth country. Adopted children can be encouraged to develop interests and hobbies in line with their adoptive families. Interests and hobbies that are diverse should also be fully embraced, encouraged and supported.