Sunday, September 6, 2009

Trans-racial parenting

Pic - Getty Images
I have written quite about this in this blog before - so I was interested to read a satirical article recently on the site "Parent 24" by Sipho Yanana, entitled "My white son", where the author (black) contemplates adopting a white child - and how that child would be brought up. The article itself is really good - but the comments, or some of them at least, are fairly indicative of the state of intellectual play about this issue.

However, an interesting aside. Our childminder came home today, after a weekend of Zionist church services (which involves, she tells us, singing, praying, dancing and tea drinking - tea without milk or sugar - which is described as the "Tea of life"). She got a lift with a fellow Zionist, who is apparently also working for two white gay men who have adopted children. Except, in this case, the children which have been adopted were imported from Europe, and are white.

I remember having pause for thought, many years back, while I was living in the UK, when I heard that social services there would not allow adoptions trans racially. I wondered, for a moment, whether this might be racist. But thinking about it, I came to realise that, it probably is not. We do not, after all, live in a perfect world. And the needs of the child, of course, need to be paramount. I discovered, when we were going through our own adoption process, that even here in South Africa, social welfare will try, as much as possible to pair like with like. So, for instance, if there is a black child, black parents will be preferred. If there is an Indian child, a coloured child - these would be matched, as far as possible with their racial equivalents.

Of course, it isn't always possible - and then the default position is to match a child with loving, willing and able parents, rather than let the child languish in a home. And I think also, though it was never said, that if a child can be placed in a heterosexual home, that would be preferred to a same-sexed arrangement.

And the reason would be this - that it is just easier! It is much easier not to stick out like a sore thumb in public. It is much easier not to have to explain why you are a different colour from your parents. It is much easier to be in a "normal" environment, than one which is uncommon. That is why it would be preferred.

What do I think about that? I think it is probably correct. Does that mean that we should put an end to trans-racial adoptions, or adoptions by homosexuals - not at all! But I don't think we should be so naive as to ignore the problems, both potential and real.

The link to the article is

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