Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Adoption and Racial Reconciliation

A recent furor erupted over some commentary on MSNBC where the open-minded, tolerant liberal talking heads mocked the family of Mitt Romney for a family photo where everyone is white except a small black child who had been adopted into the family. Apparently racism, like misogyny, is only bad when it comes from a conservative. The talking head in question has given the standard "apology" but the fact that their unscripted racist response to a very nice family photo with a child who has been adopted into what appears to be not only a very privileged family but also a loving one gives a glimpse into the real mindset.

Granted, it is somewhat odd to see a black child adopted by a family that belongs to a religion that institutionalized racism as a "revelation" from God. On the other hand racism and slave owning was quite common among Christians and justified by a perverse reading of Scripture. The world has changed a lot. and largely for the better, over the last few decades but the racial disharmony of the past still sticks with us today.

This is not an isolated assault on adoption in general. There have been a steady steam of slanderous articles and books taking a few atypical tragedies among the untold numbers of successful adoptions and attempted to make them the norm among evangelical Christian adoptions. The unspoken but clear message: Christians can't be trusted to adopt.

I truly believe that a lot of the very public media backlash and slander of the rising interest in adoption among conservative evangelicals has absolutely nothing to do with the needs of children. Rather it causes discomfort among a certain population because it doesn't jive with their stereotype of evangelical, conservative Christians as heartless, racist ogres who only care about children until they are born. What seems to be on display is a mindset that sees orphans, especially minority orphans, as better off in orphanages than in a loving, Christian and *gasp* often white family. Once again the most vulnerable in our society are pawns in a political chess game, willingly sacrificed to advance the cause.

At the same time I am incredibly encouraged by the outpouring of love and acceptance by so many Christian families who adopt, and especially when it is "transracial". It is often said, and shamefully true, that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week. Different races and ethnicity mingle during the week at work, at sporting events, at school but on Sunday morning white Americans go to church with other white Americans, blacks with blacks, Latinos with Latinos, Asians with Asians. This should not be so. It must not be so. But amidst this racial homogenization of worship I see hope, hope in the growing number of non-Caucasian children adopted into white families. Where the church has so often failed to integrate we are starting to see integrating via the blessing of adoption.

For people of my age, voluntary segregation was the norm as was a less than subtle racism. I went to school with probably less than 10 kids who were not white through middle school and high school. It was just the way it was and no one thought it odd or was slightly interested in doing something about it. To look around now and see families with adopted children of different races and ethnicity is incredibly encouraging. Those Asian, black or Latino babies will be in Sunday school, VBS, youth groups and eventually adults in the church. Where we once had segregation we will slowly see integration. Familiarity will lead to acceptance and comfort and I hope someday a racially segregated church will be a sad footnote in the history of the church. Adoption is leading the way and that makes sense. Who better than children to show adults how foolish our acceptable segregation has truly been? This is another area that I see great hope for the future of the church alongside the end of Christendom.

In glory the church will be gathered in some unimaginable way as one, all of us throughout the ages at the wedding supper of the Lamb. From every tribe and tongue and nation and none of the old categories we love to divide ourselves from others by will mean a thing. That this reality will not be complete until culmination and renewal of all things is no reason we should not seek to change our current course now and adoption, that most Biblical of practices, is a great way to start.

No comments: