Saturday, July 12, 2008

Open the Eyes of My Heart

For the last several days, a weird optics, a backward way of seeing, has come up again and again in my conversations. SO, I figured I should write about it. (when life hands you themes -- make theme-ade). When we first began thinking about adoption two and a half years ago, I ran across an anti-trans-racial adoption website that asserted the position that -- loosely quoted -- "the adoption of black children by white families is a reinscription of slavery -- an opportunity for white people to own black people with impunity." What a kick in the chest! Initially, my heart-yearning to mother to gush that mothering toward the heart of someone who needed a mother was renamed violence! My love was renamed hate! [If there is a Devil, I'm nearly convinced that his whole function is to rename bad good and good bad....and that's all]. I wrestled with the assault of his position for a week or two (and with other arguments in his support). Finally, I reached two conclusions that unraveled the meshy threads that had me all tangled.

First: parents do not own children. No one who has ever worn a path between bedrooms anxious to watch her baby breathe or sat in a steamy bathroom trying to quiet the cough that threatens to arrest that sweet breath would misname parenting as ownership. No one who has laughed for days at mismatched knock knock jokes or cherished the genius of amorphous fingerpaintings would ever invert the roles of sacred responsibility and unspeakable cruelty. No one who has agonized over the mistreatment of his child by a teacher or plunged into the vertigo of panic in the silence that follows the call of a momentarily missing child's name at the park or exploded with pride at the stumbly dance moves of the most graceful grey mouse in the Nutcracker could think that we own our children. If anything, they own us! In fact, love is, I think, the choice to let onesself be owned -- to submit our OWN needs and desires to those BELONGING to an-other.

Second: He is wrong! At the most basic level, the distinction that the website purveyor draws between one person and another remains forever erroneous! Although we have botched the job horribly, people were created to carry out the harmonious worship of love as a multifarious, unified family. The notion that certain qualities could erode such a basic unity, that the beauty of harmony could COMPLICATE the thoroughgoing melody of love is backward. [Once again, if there's a Devil, I think he gets the credit for such a destructively clever perversion as renaming harmony noise and noise harmony].

Most recently, the (very important) issues of ownership and difference surfaced on an adoption forum, and a heated discusion about possession and parenting erupted between a number of people I both like and respect. Ultimately, intentions were clarified and wrinkles, to some degree, were smoothed, but one woman's assertion that the child she was adopting would be her "OWN" led to a pretty raucous debate. [I rather like wrinkles]. I mentioned, once, how much the word "our" has stretched during the course of this adoption process. Let me say now that, maybe, we should think of OURselves (all mothers and fathers included) as belonging, by choice, to a common child -- rather than wondering to whom our child belongs. [Think of the two mothers at Solomon's feet.]

Perhaps, the pronouns have all been inverted as well!


Crystal & Craig said...

Very nicely said. I have struggled sometimes to understand how these arguments against adoption can seem so perswaisive even when I know they are not right.

I like wrinkles too!

Anonymous said...

Very nice post my friend. You get an Amen from me.