The last couple of months have been filled with a sense of impending doom for many in the adoption community. From would be adoptive parents concerned over the uncertainties of adoption laws and 12th-hour covert changes to policies, to social workers who practically are working tirelessly at jobs that may not exist in the coming months, we are experiencing a reality in South Africa that has many questioning “what is actually happening?”
Much has been written on the topic and excellent articles such as this one by Robyn Wolfson Vorster have expanded in clear detail on the facts, the concerns and perhaps some of the reasoning behind the shift in policy. So today I am not going to reinvent the wheel by writing what has already been so clearly presented before.
I find myself in a unique position. I believe I have a different perspective. I am certain God has allowed me to occupy a space where my voice will find favour with various groups in our beautiful South Africa.
I am fortunate in that I have the opportunity to dream about the futures of my three amazing children. I can occupy my thought life with the hopes and dreams of my sons’ growing into men who stand for what is right and true. Who know when to sit and listen whilst at the same time, confident in their ability to know the times when they must stand with confidence and speak with courage. My beautiful girl brings me such joy, her strength and poise allow me to confidently declare that she will inspire some and she will convict others. She dresses herself with beauty and boldness, and yet she is not even 2.
So this is a bit out of left field. My focus is typically on Fathering, Adoption, family and the like. That’s who I am, that’s what I love and am passionate about and that’s what I feel called to write on. But in the past 3 weeks I have had a burning to add my 2 cents to the discussion on the challenges being faced by both the students and educational institutions in South Africa. Perhaps my voice will fall amongst the noise made by a thousand other opinions and perhaps it won’t stand as a voice of reason for either side, but it is a voice nonetheless and more importantly, it is the voice of someone looking through the eyes of a father, dreaming for his children, remembering his past and hoping my kids navigate their journeys better than those that came before them.
Before I exhale what has been chewing on my thoughts let me disclose a few things and add a few caveats.
Firstly, I am white (or rather peach to be more accurate) and I come from a privileged background. I won’t apologise for the sacrifices made for that privilege as they were made with the best of intentions and fuelled by a love for me by my parents. But, whilst I won’t apologise, I also cannot peddle the lie that I am not privileged. I suppose given my complexion and my previous statement, I am a benefactor of white (peach) privilege.
We pride ourselves in the knowledge that we live in a time like no other. A time where the amount of information created, consumed and freely available is beyond anything we’ve experienced in the past. We exist in a time where at the push of a button, we achieve access to nearly every answer man has ever discovered or needed. I have in the palm of my hand a venerable magic wand which, when fully charged, is able to give its possessor God like knowledge and understanding.
From the correct spelling of the world longest word (pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis for those of you who’d like to know) to the requirements to produce atomic energy, every single person has the ability to answer every single question ever asked, and in most cases correctly.
So why do I get the sense that in spite of limitless knowledge, common sense and general good choices seem to be on the decline?
I remember several years ago, sitting in my first adoption class, learning, discovering, being challenged and without my knowing, having my path severely altered.
I also remember the group being asked to give our thoughts on birth moms. Quick as a cat I rememb shuffling my position to one of complete ignorance and judgement. The exact words escape me but my position was based on judging a mom who could give away her child because I could never do that. Thankfully, the lady leading us was skillfully able to highlight the errors in my position in a way that simultaneously corrected my mindset and convicted me to be part of the solution.
Of course I couldn’t relate, of course I could never have given up my first-born, but then again, I never had to! I never stared into the dark only to have fear look back at me, I never viewed my wives pregnancy as anything other than a joy. I never had my dreams shattered over a period of 9 months, I never was abandoned to live out the consequences of my decisions, or perhaps abandoned to live out the consequences of someone elses choices on my body. I never endured ridicule at the possibility of having to drop out of school, to explain to people why I didn’t use protection or couldn’t say no. Continue reading
1 Cup of affection;
3 Cups quality time;
2.5 Cups of Hard work;
1.5 Cups of discipline (Add more if the mixture requires)
5 tsp of guidance;
1 dozen quality friends and their families.
Mix the above in 1 large community , immerse and cover with affirmation. Leave to cure for 18 years and serve.
Wouldn’t it be nice if succesful parenting was as simple as following the steps of your favourite recipe, just add, mix, bake and enjoy!
For those of you without children (Parents, you know the sort, their eyes follow you with scornful disdain and stare you down with wisdom acquired through the ages from the careful studying of movies, TV shows, second-hand opinion gathering and other useful practices) Sorry guys, this recipe doesn’t exist.
2016 has reared it’s head, full of promise and opportunities. As 2015 left the harbour I looked back over the year and it’s challenges and must admit, the gains outweighed the losses, at least in my life.
We entered the new year celebrating the arrival of our beautiful little girl, aglow with smiles and covered with a sense of excitement. My house has never seen the colour pink, but it has certainly been attacked and bares the battle wounds of this stereotypical girlie colour.
So all is good? Well yes and no! As the HMS 2016 began her maiden voyage, it appeared that the waters would be filled with both adventure but certain danger as well. The danger, at least in the context of South Africa, came in the form of a social media storm that dared suggest that perhaps we haven’t come as far as we thought on the race front. Continue reading
I believe we have an obligation to protect life, I believe we have a responsibility to speak for those without a voice and I also believe we don’t have a right to unjustly discriminate. But lately, in spite of these beliefs, I have had a hard time coming to terms with the way we take such vocal positions when Lions are killed or people are prevented from marrying the person of their choice but say nothing when comparatively greater evils exercise their existence.
There is a word as prevalent as it is nightmarish. It haunts the hallways of schools, hides in the dark places and lays in wait for its next victim. Many children face the light of day pregnant with fear that this day will repeat the horrors they felt yesterday and the days before that. So many children are facing the morning school run with a fear that could level a heavyweight boxer by the second round.
Bullies have the ability to rip away the innocence, the joy and the wonder that should form the basis of our children’s reality. From the subtle look over his shoulder to see if his captor will allow him to make the choice he is faced with to the blatant assault he endures at the hands of the “ones in power”.
South African media has launched a tirade of articles in recent weeks exposing the hell that many children find themselves never escaping. From social media rants, emotional barrages, group punishment to full-blown physical warfare.
I don’t profess to be an expert on the material, but this is what I have experienced:
So as a forerunner to my next article, technology vs the parent – 4 reasons why you are losing, here’s a video that wets the appetite. It is from 2009, so all stats will be somewhere north of the numbers shown, which at least gives good cause for a little thought anyway.