Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I'm Not Giving Up the Dollar Spot

Oh great.  More Target commentary, you say.  I know, I'm over it too.  But regardless, I need to throw this all out there.

Its for a few main reasons.  First, I'm passionate about the safety of women and children.  Second, I care deeply that no one should feel in danger for their safety, regardless of their gender orientation.  And thirdly, because it feels that once again the church has aligned itself with a position that ostracizes it from hurting people under the auspice of caring about something Biblical.

I will not boycott Target.  Not because I just can't pull myself away from the dollar spot, adorable home decor, and cheap kids clothes.  I will even use the bathroom there should the need arise.

The whole thing is all so, so strange to me. Either people are boycotting Target for accommodating transgendered people, in which case, they need to boycott a lot more than Target.  Plenty of companies openly accommodate transgendered individuals.

Or, they are boycotting because they say this rule makes women and children less safe.  The thought process is that this rule will allow cisgendered men who want to prey on innocent women and children to freely walk into women's restrooms.  In reality, the policy's goal is to help protect transgendered people who are just as worthy of safety and significantly more at risk in bathrooms than cis people.  [Cis or cisgendered means you believe to be the gender you were assigned at birth based on your genetalia.]  

Regardless of your thoughts on the legitimacy or not of being transgendered or what you believe the Bible has to say about it, the very real reality of transgendered people is that they are a target.  They are significantly more likely to be assaulted, both physically and sexually, by those around them and transgendered youth are twice as likely to attempt to commit suicide.  This is a vulnerable population, and as such, should be warmly welcomed and protected by those of us claiming Jesus.  

Boycotting a transgendered person being able to use the the facilities that fit their gender identity is a pursuit to change the rules.  Not only does it potentially change laws or rules made to keep them safe, it surely makes them feel as though they are not safe around you personally, because you are actively working against their need for a safe place to pee.  And if you boycott under the banner of religion, it makes your religion the enemy of their pursuit of personal safety.  

It is completely legitimate to want a safe place to pee as a transgendered person.  Its ok for a company to, as the result of state's law to take away that safe place, put a policy in place that reinstates that safety.

Its ok too at this point to come back to the concerns about the safety of women and children though.  Because those are beyond legitimate concerns.  Women and children are not safe populations either.  Statistically, theres a 50/50 chance that I will have to walk one of my daughters through healing from a sexual assault by the time she graduates college.  Talk about statistics that make you want to act and change things.

It is precisely because of that reality though that I won't put my time or energy behind boycotting laws such as these. If I have the energy and time to put behind keeping women and children safe, I will put my effort toward changing legislation about sentencing of sex offenders, increasing education of children on their bodies and safety, and pushing for more oversight in places like where abuse of children most often takes place (schools, religious institutions, and their homes being the primary places).  Because the reality is that this bathroom policy isn't what puts women and children in danger. It's the laws that don't exist to keep pedophiles behind bars as well as a systemic problem with making women not feel safe and supported in reporting assault. 

Currently, if a man is in the woman's room peeking at girls or assaulting women, it is illegal.  No rule at Target is going to change that.  

Lets say that a man goes so far as to rape a woman in the Target restroom.  The victim will then have to report the crime, something that only 46-66% of those assaulted by strangers feel comfortable and supported enough to do.  Then, statistically, only 7-9% of these Target restroom rapists will actually be arrested.  Only about a third to a half of those will end up with a felony conviction.  And not even all of those will spend A SINGLE DAY in prison.  No rule or law is going to keep even those few that spend a day in jail from re-offending.  

This doesn't even speak to the plethora of other crimes men can and do commit against women and children that are prosecuted at no better rates.  

Anyone still think Target is the problem here?

No boycotters with signs or Facebook commenters about a law concerning transgendered individuals not being able to use the restroom will keep the next victim safe.  Creeps will find ways to reoffend.  The reaction to that should not be to try to find more ways to wall off women from potential predators, but to find ways to catch and more permanently wall of predators from victims.  To believe women who tell you or the police that they have been assaulted.  To prosecute the predators.  And to make them spend actual, legitimate lengths of time in prison in order to keep others safe.  

Want to keep women and children safe?  Forget Target and their policy.  Use the bathroom when you need to.  Work to change the real problem that exists.

Statistics pulled from multiple sites that all have similar numbers such as these.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Sons Were Never Orphans

A news story has been making the rounds in different circles I'm in.  Its the story of a self-labeled evangelical couple who adopted 2 children domestically (one Black, one bi-racial), and then adopted 2 embryos leftover from another couple's IVF that resulted in her giving birth to 3 Black daughters.

The article essentially boils down to the couple defining themselves through the labels of evangelical, savior of Black children.  So while I appreciated that within the article they speak of not being colorblind and understanding the implications race will have for their children, the White savior complex was too thick to wade through to make me feel comfortable even linking it here.

I posted this comment in a racial reconciliation group I participate in, but wanted to share it here as I feel that it sums up my thoughts on transracial adoption currently.

I discussed this article with a fellow White, transracial adoptive mom and a Black friend yesterday. We all got the same image of the White savior complex from the article. Mostly because it was all about the parents. Them wanting to define themselves by their faith and children.

I think the church has fed this problem significantly. They have created a Christian adoption complex that labeled domestic adoption as the "care of orphans" which isn't even an accurate label. There are true orphans in our country, and they are the children in our foster system who have had their parents' rights terminated yet there is no one to adopt them. Many age out of the system every year and have to navigate adulthood without parents or relying on their biological parents who were deemed unfit to parent.

My children who joined our family through domestic adoption were physically placed in my arms by their first moms. Never orphaned.

So when the church started holding up this (albeit very, very difficult both emotionally and financially) way of adding a child to your family as something to be exalted, it became something I don't think it ever was supposed to be. Supported, yes. Because it is such a hard thing to go through and because that's what we should be doing as the body of Christ, supporting one another through the hard things that we chose to do.

Add in the racial dynamics of who in our country is more likely to have resources to adopt, and you create a problematic situation where mostly White, well off families are adopting babies while their church is telling them they are participating in "caring for the orphan" and at the same time (in a lot of cases though not all) not preparing them for the racial dynamics the situation creates. The only training in preparing to parent a Black child tends to consist of learning hair and skin care, not how to teach your child to interact with the police or what to do when your preschooler is already racially profiled in the way their behavior is punished at school. There are no requirements to live in an area where your child isn't the only Black student in their class or on their street.

I know transracial adoption isn't being done well in this country when I have a mom message me from her suburban home asking me where she can find Black children for her Black children to play with. And when my answer of, "start with your Black friend's children, schoolmates families, or families from your church" renders no one. The fact that families can adopt transracially and end up in that place shows me how far we have to go in preparing families to adopt this way and how much we need to get away from the feeling I got from this article. It also provides me a solid reminder to not take it at all personally when POC are skeptical of our family and how we are doing things.

I take the Biblical mandate to care for orphans, to show mercy, to love justice, and to walk humbly before God very seriously.  And its because of that seriousness that I have no desire to misapply the label of orphan to my children.  There are plenty of ways within domestic infant adoption to follow the commands of the Bible outside of mislabeling.  I would much rather the focus shift to showing mercy and love to expectant moms who are making adoption plans, being humble when matched to not see yourself as a better option for the baby than the child's birth family particularly if the adoption doesn't go through, and seeking racial justice for all our children.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Forever a Family

This day was all about you big guy.

At 9:05 a.m. you were declared Malachi James Behrens.

You are so loved, so cherished, so wanted, and forever a member of our family.

This is about how the court hearing went for Abe.

We couldn't be happier.