It’s NOT your Culture – An open letter to those who want to protect heritage at the expense of the children for whom that heritage exists

protectcultureWOW, that’s a headline! It’s been quite a week, possibly one of the most emotionally challenging to date and I suppose the straw that broke the camels back and inspired my writing this open letter to all those custodians of heritage who seek to protect their culture by enforcing it on would be adoptive families.

 

 

 

Dear ______,

On the surface you have chosen a noble cause. The idea of upholding all that is sacred, all the traditions and beliefs that have steered one’s family or group towards who they are today. Yourself and other custodians of culture and heritage will, I’m sure, be acting with the best of intentions when seeking to enforce that those beliefs continue down the blood line from generation to generation. I even agree with the idea of protecting the essence of who you are and who came before you for the benefit of those who will come after you. Especially in such a diverse country such as South Africa, so well done!

I hope you understand my heart in this and not simply shut yourself off to the idea that perhaps we need a rethink of our approach to culture/heritage when applying it strictly to Adoptive parents and families.

I have 2 son’s, one store-bought, one homegrown, one chocolate and the other vanilla, they are my inspiration! They are equally beautiful and fierce, solid and all over the place, funny and serious. The common bond they share was not formed at a cellular level, it was not forged out of DNA or blood. Their bond goes deeper and extends further than mere genes. They are eternally bonded as brothers, spiritually united in the Body of Christ and both are equally, in all aspects, living as my sons.

The one came into our home and our hearts through birth, the other through adoption. That last word is where my belief in upholding culture/heritage becomes a little challenged. You see, my youngest son may be a little browner than his brother, but because he has been adopted into our hearts and our home, his past, present and future has been re-grafted into my culture and heritage. He is a little black boy, full of wonder and awe, bubbling with energy and purpose, he carries the spiritual lineage of God and me.

Let me be honest, I am in complete disagreement that I should uphold the culture of his bloodline. Do I dislike it, do I disagree with it, honestly, I don’t know enough about his bloodline to hold any firm position. I do believe that in an attempt to pass something from his past onto him, you may water down the completeness and eternal nature of his adoption. You see, adoption is so powerful that it wipes the past away and creates a new past. This new past finds its routes in the culture and heritage of the family into whom he/she has been adopted.

I know in South Africa we want to uphold all that has passed and more than that celebrate the variety and richness of the different cultures but frankly when you take a little black boy, place him into a non-black family and expect that they teach, protect and perhaps instill their new child’s previous culture into him, as well as have him find his place in this new world, all on account of the colour of his skin, that seems a little unfair.

Black children are not born with the culture/heritage of their past tribal generations any more than white children are born with a racist gene. A child is a child, he/she is raised and groomed to take on the customs/beliefs or culture of the family/group within which he/she exists. Does that mean should my son want to explore the rich culture and heritage of the bloodline from which he comes, I will dig my heals in a declare his culture is mine and he should look no further? Absolutely not. In fact, if that day comes, I’ll be right their learning and experiencing with him. But please don’t enforce a belief or a label on him based on the colour of his skin, I’m pretty sure that has been tried before and with little success.

My son is my son, he is mine, he’s not Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Ndebele, Shangaan or Venda, he happens to have brown skin, but that’s all, underneath he’s just like his brother, except for the hair (I’ll give you that one, they are slightly different.)

Please, let’s embrace the completeness of adoption. The barriers to families welcoming in a son or daughter whose icing is different from their own are numerous without us lopping on another requirement. let’s embrace them as children, our children. Lets treat them as completely ours without conditions that their homegrown siblings need not worry about.

Sincerely

A loving Father of 2 boys, and God willing, soon, a little girl. Oh, and she’ll be my little girl, my angel. No other labels need apply.

Tell me what you think

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Adoption – Round 2…5 things I never knew the first time round

round2-1140x700So here we go, first adoption meeting with the social worker for our second store-bought child, happens this week. Home grown 1 and store-bought 1 are excited, we are excited, the family is excited, or at least they are until they realise Christmas just got a little more expensive.

I remember a couple of years ago being in this exact same space, blissfully unaware of the decision we were about to make. Full of love, expectancy and hope, we began a journey that rocked the entire foundation of our family, our marriage and ourselves. We would never be the same again. Those people, those doe eyed parents are gone. Naiveté has left us, blissful ignorance has waved us good-bye and what is left, at least in our estimation, is a slightly greyer, lightly bashed about, but more realistic set of parents. Sound a little negative, sure you want to give it another go?

In spite of the tears, the hair pulling, the total confusion and at times the sense of complete aloneness, I cannot imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t gladly open my heart and my home to welcome another beautiful child to become one with us. Our experience with our second born son, has so solidified in our hearts a greater level of love, that we will never be the same.

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Your Children: Accessory or Priority?

IMG_2805I’m a minimalist! I like nice things, the add ons, the extra’s the buy 2 get one free deals. I like the idea of having the things that go with other things. I like the idea of filling my home with those little extra bits that make each room unique and stand out amongst the others. Don’t get me wrong, I like accessories.

I think I just don’t like them enough to put the effort into really making sure that everything that needs to match, does. I’m not wired that way but I have no problem with people who find the worlds greatest sugar rush in accessorizing every area of their life to the hilt, and if you are that person, Awesome, I pray you come across the worlds biggest accessory sale and receive all sorts of discounts and vouchers, GO FOR IT!

Where I do come a little unstuck is where, at least on the surface, parents act as if their kids have just completed their “oh so” precious checklist of world’s-most-sought-after-accessories. For me, and mainly because I meet and have met with many children who have fallen prey to the “Checklist”, there appears to be a growing idea that children, although important, tend to fall into a large bucket of important stuff, rather than existing in their own bucket labelled “Priority”.

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My son’s sensitive, and I think that’s HARDCORE!

love-never-fails-woodDaily, whether by your news APP, T.V, radio, newspaper or general water cooler chat, we are reminded of the brutality and cruelness that exists. The content of so many news publications reads like a who’s who list of the latest Antichrists, duking it out for the top dog position on the worlds most evil list.

Just sitting here writing, I have my ears accosted by some baseball clad, track suit pant wearing wanna be tough guy. His language on the phone would bring shudders to the toughest made man. Shouting expletives in the middle of the parking lot to someone on his phone, weaving in and out of the cars until he makes his way back to the table. He must be almost 22, filled with boyish insecurities and yet banging his chest like a fully grown silverback. The anger, the hatred, the ultimatums and the indifference to the people surrounding him, most of whom I wager are not excited by both his volume and content. How is it we are surrounded by such sand papery people and yet look at our children and become concerned with their emotions being too available, they are too sensitive, they need to develop tougher skins. Appears to me, we should be fending off all hardness and embracing their softer sides for as long as possible, especially since the world that awaits them when they eventually step into adulthood will do a sterling job of attempting to knock the softness out of their hearts.

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