In Defence of “It’s Time” – But We Must Act!

Its-Time-GeneralI read this article written on the It’s Time event and felt I needed to respond. Have a read because it has some points and truths that we cannot ignore:

Post-Apartheid South Africa: The Missed Zacchaeus Moment by the Christian Beneficiaries of Apartheid

My response:

I find so much of what you wrote to be true. We as the church, the christians, the Christian beneficiaries are doing too little. Your suggestion of having an “it’s time” moment in 1994 is spot on, where financially we gave of ourselves to benefit the true victims of apartheid, the children of those who continue to suffer. Or perhaps the many other moments you spoke of when we should’ve stood up and said “it’s time”. We have lost credibility in many circles, we have missed opportunities to stand alongside victims because of their suffering, not simply because it’s spilling over into my yard now.

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Racism, Ignorance or Plain Stupidity

racismI 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.

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Not An Issue Of Land, But Of Heart

878d3c13ae1c35f24f54aa487150679cRaising a blended family, brings certain perks. If I am honest, I love being slightly different, I love going to the shops and seeing that double take on a stranger’s face when they see me and then they see one of my brown people. I say “my brown people” because my son refers to people of similar colour that way, and seeing as he is mine, so are they.

I like thinking I am part of a solution, I like to think I am creating a bridge between pink and brown. I like to think my son’s and daughter will be better positioned because colour won’t matter to them, it won’t feature in their thought processes, it won’t inform their value judgements or influence their opinions. BUT, am I foolish in believing this, because it will matter to YOU?

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The Adoption Solution

a325I remember sitting in my first adoption training session at a local church, staring at a board, engaging with the questions around why adoption rates in South Arica are so low. I was faced with a question around the screening behind adoption and whether our checks and balances are too strict.

I remember clearly, declaring with absolute certainty that they were, only to be comprehensively rebuffed by the lady leading the course that the processes followed in screening parents were not to blame. More than this they were necessary, practical and perhaps slightly too lenient.

We have come a fair way since that first “knowledgable” outburst of mine, but the question still remains, what is the solution?

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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

Lead-a-ship or Sink-a-ship

The headlines are a ablaze with negativity, the fear, the gloom, the uncertainty and all the world is filled with fear on one level or another. Some justified, some foolish and others somewhere in between. We have the anniversary of 9/11, nailbiting sporting events and various political love childs making all sorts of  questionable predictions.

Where do we stand, where do we fall and what needs to change in order for us to bend but not break. I’m a massive Rocky fan and this just rings so true with my life:

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” 

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