Saturday, October 27, 2007

Life on the Fault Lines

On Wednesday night Irie and I went to see a screening of the film Living on the Fault Line: Where Race and Family Meet. Living on the Fault Line documents the lives of several Vermont families and their experiences with transracial adoption. More specifically, it explores the racial "fault line" that is exposed when white parents adopt non-white children.

Jeff Farber, produced the film and hosted a conversation following the screening. What was clear from both the movie and his comments after is that he believes these mixed race families provide a unique opportunity for whites to explore the meaning of race and its powerful hold on our society. He also made it clear his belief that because whites so seldom have to think about race in a meaningful way, white parents who adopt non-white children are finding themselves woefully unprepared to help their children grow up as people of color in a world where race matters.

As a white person who has suddenly had to face race in a very intimate way, I agree that we are indeed ill-prepared to deal with race in a personal way. I remember waking up from our honeymoon in Durham and learning that three crosses had been burned downtown. Suddenly that wasn't about someone else anymore. Those crosses were burning me now. And yet I had no experience of being a racial outsider. No experience with what Cornel West in this month's Atlantic Monthly crudely (his word) calls "niggerization." I can only wonder how I will fare as a father of a bi-racial child as she matures and encounters this racialized world. As a person of faith, I am preparing myself now so that when Gabby comes home and tells me someone has said something racially malicious I won't go Old School on them but will remain true to Jesus' words.

And that, faith, is suppose what I've been thinking about most deeply since seeing the film. One of the parents in the film stated that she beleived her child's adoptive family was in actuality the third best option for her child. She said ideally her child would be with her biological family. Or, secondarily, with a family of her same race. I understood what that mother was was saying. Intellectually it made sense for sure. But I raised my hand during the discussion period and said that her statement sat ill with me somewhere down deep in my soul.

Soul was the right word. Because I am a person of faith, I simply cannot accept the assumption that biology or race or anything else is more definitive than the substance of love. The scriptures do not equate biology with God. They do not say that race is God. But the scriptures tell us that God is love.

The fault lines are real and they are dangerous. But if we believe that the power of love can indeed transcend the chasm from one heart to another and one people to another, then we will risk the danger. Which is I suppose what faith is all about.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Attachment Parenting

So Irie and I have just moved into our new house in Winooski. Our house is small, but has character which we totally appreciate. Lots of nooks and crannies and unique molding etc. It very much fits the idea we have of ourselves.

At church on Sunday someone asked me how Gabs is liking her new bedroom. "New bedroom?" I said, "Well, she likes to visit it occasionally."

See, we have this little problem in our house. That is, according to some parenting experts we have a problem. At least the making of one. We have a kid that absolutely insists on sleeping with mommy and daddy.

And the really hard thing to admit, but I'm going to do it, is this: I think its so cute. Mommy, Daddy and Gabby all cuddled up together like three pigs in a blanket. Oink, oink, oink.

But the doomsday predicters say we are headed for trouble. My mom included. "It's cute now, but how cute will it be two years from now?" Apparently my mom thought it was cute and easy, etc. with me but I ended up staying around a couple of extra years. My mom and a whole army of child development experts say get this kid out of your bed ASAP. But then there's this minority group of pediatritians - the touchy, feely kind - who propound this thing called "attachment parenting". The basic premise of attachment parenting is the idea that children should be with their parents as often as possible. They say, don't listen to those with low anthropologies, children aren't trying to manipulate you, their just being children. Love them. Nurture them. Snore all over them. Too soon they'll be gone and if you don't you'll wish you did.

So what's a family to do? We've really been struggling with this. And then, out of the blue an answer from God...

I picked up the book of Luke and right there in chapter 11, in one of his parables, Jesus tells about a knock at midnight and on the other side of the door...that's right, an attachment family all snuggled in bed together.