- Number 7 Billion.
- You can’t say that because someone might feel bad.
- Win this Baby (exact specification may vary).
- Pagan/Christian Confusion.
Nothing brings out the inner Malthus like a newborn baby.
That’s especially true when that baby is born to a mother somewhere in Africa or Asia. According to the United Nations Population Fund, some time this coming Monday, probably in India, the world will welcome its seven billionth person. Well, maybe welcome isn’t exactly the right word.
So begins the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn, whose column I endorse less enthusiastically than I would have a few years ago, but which still draws an evocative distinction between those who see babies and mouths to feed and those who seem them as minds to unlock.
There is a voluminous literature arguing that the act of child adoption itself constitutes a trauma. For example, the writer Betty Jean Lifton argued that no matter what adoptive parents do, an adopted child has undergone a foundational trauma. I have argued against that position because for Lifton, biological connection is the only way for a family to constitute itself through a foundational narrative of belonging. On that view, an adopted child will necessarily be robbed of such a narrative, and will be without answers to basic questions like “When did mommy meet daddy?” and “What happened on the day I was born?”
But of course it is not only adopted, children who lack such narratives. Those who do not live in conventional heterosexual families are also cut off from them. The normalization of the heterosexual family — mommy and daddy and baby makes three — does not describe the majority of families. If one narrative of family belonging — in this case traditional heterosexual — is treated as the only valid one, it cuts off other possibilities for other stories of how one becomes a family and belongs to a family. Thus, the very argument that adoption is foundationally traumatic shuts down possibilities that would allow adopted children to tell different family stories and be part of different kinds of families. The argument itself becomes exclusionary.
I have no opinion on whether adoption produces “foundational trauma,” but it seems utterly fallacious to argue, as the author appears to, that we’re not allowed to say it does because some adults choose to form gay and other alternate families, and to adorn them with adopted children, and they might feel excluded if we say it.
On a not-unrelated topic, an uncommonly stark and yucky story about the commodification of babies:
It’s a very strange world we’re living in when a self-described Christian fundamentalist can write, with no apparent sense of the absurdity of it:
Today’s “harvest parties” are the Christian version of Halloween. You dress up in costumes, go to your church, play a bunch of cheaply constructed games and are rewarded with candy …
Churches now feel compelled to offer safe alternatives to pagan celebrations. And so, harvest parties were born.
I don’t like what Halloween has become – an orgy of consumerist excess with ghoulish overtones – but what could be literally more “pagan” than celebrating the harvest, fer cryin’ out loud, instead of the eve of All Saints Day?
Oh. I forgot. Real Christians® don’t exactly believe in Saints (they think they’re all saints, so saints are pretty pedestrian). And they do these parties at church. And play with chintzy stuff. So I guess it’s just as Real Christian® as can be, short of promising free animal crackers with the watered-down grape juice 3 time a year.
The story from which the quote is drawn is a quirky look at “Otherness,” and apart from the author’s obliviousness that you can’t make something Christian that way, it’s not unworthy of a reading.
Meanwhile, an Orthodox priest, where November 1 is not observed as All Saints Day, tries to restore a little perspective. (HT Naomi Dunn)
It’s hard sometimes to distinguish mere nostalgia from conservatism.
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Having become tedious even to myself, I’m Tweeting more, blogging less. View this in a browser instead of an RSS feeder to see Tweets at upper right.
I also have some succinct standing advice on recurring themes. Maybe if I link to it, I’ll blog less obsessively about it.