Monday, October 5, 2009

Trans-racial togetherness

After much to-ing and fro-ing we were invited to attend what was described as a “trans-cultural” adoption group yesterday. Now, what might a “trans-cultural adoption group” be, you ask me?

Well, this particular group was one where white single mothers, who have adopted black children have got together on a monthly basis – for reasons of support, I suppose. I would have called that a trans-racial adoption group. The fact that they call it a trans-cultural adoption group is cause, I would say, for some concern. It goes back to the substantive matter of whether or not culture is racially defined. This, after all, was one of the fundamental tenets of apartheid ideology – that we are all racially and culturally separate-able and circumscribable. It then took it further. It said that culture was something fixed for all time. It was something which was defined primarily by skin colour, and once defined, it was something one could not escape.

Now, to assume that the culture of the children in this group - because they happen to have black skins - is of a different culture to the parents with white skins, to my mind, is highly problematic. There was even some casual discussion, in the group of nodding in the direction of the “culture” of a particular child. So, I heard that one child’s biological background was Zulu. I wonder what, in reality that is going to mean for the child? Lessons in Zulu dancing? I discovered, when I did a DNA test of myself, that I had Croatian roots - what on earth does that mean in my life, other than vague curiosity?

We were invited to the group somewhat curiously, being neither single nor mothers, you understand. We went, because we feel it is in some way important for our children to understand that they are not alone in the world – that there are other families like ours. But the problem is, what happens when there are some fundamental discordances relating to values? Is that something we want them to be exposed to as well?

As it was, the leader of the group revealed that there was some issue about us being a same-sex couple. Apparently there was some discussion in the group about having men in the group, because there was a lack of male role-models. When our names came up, apparently, one comment was “but do we really want two gay men in the group?” Again, it is really a question of values. Of course, in the real world, our children are going to need to realize that not everyone is accepting of gay men parenting children (trans-racial or not). But do we want to belong to a group where some of the parents are not completely affirming?

It’s difficult. This is, after all, Cairp Tahn. This is one of the most racially divided spots on the African continent. So, there is some sense in taking what is on offer. But does that mean that values need to be compromised as well? I really don’t know. I suppose I also have some missionary zeal left in me, which means that I still feel constrained to convert the infidel, but does one do that in the context of one’s children? That is a question which we will be considering in the next while, for sure.

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