So, in my other life, I’m a school librarian. I spend a lot of my time reading books. So the past week I finished two young adult novels,
Keysha’s Drama of the Kimani Tru Series by Earl Sewell
and Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Pena
These were absolutely amazing Young Adult genre novels and I would definitely recommend them to teens and adults alike. However, what stuck out to me, was that in both books which dealt with foster care, adoption, and the issues that come along with that territory, there was an repetitive cliche that began to incense me. In both books the main characters found themselves in the awful and lonely older children foster care experience. In both books, the character was finally chosen by a family that had an eager foster father and an angry and bitter foster mother. In both books, the “father” explained to the child that their wife was unhappy because “she can’t have children of her own.”
What the f@#!
So, are you saying that women who want biological children have to be cajoled into getting kids they don’t want, to make their husband’s happy? Are you saying that all women who do foster or adopt after struggling with infertility will be bitter bitches who hate the child for not coming from their womb? And more importantly, if you aren‘t saying this, have you THOUGHT about the fact that you are putting books in the hands of young people who are often a part of the foster care environment? Think of the impact your inference has on their perception of their situation.
I found myself getting angrier and angrier as I read. These “mothers” fought their husbands tooth and nail about everything concerning the new additions to their homes. And in both cases, my heart broke as these children overheard grown women saying things like, “Take [him/her] back, it doesn’t replace having our own kid”, or implying that they will never love these children the same way they would a biological child. It hurt my heart.
I serve a school community that has many different family makeups. We are an inner-city school located in a somewhat rough neighborhood of Chicago. I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears the devastating cries and comments from children who are already struggling with fitting into their new families, or the heartbreak of not being able to live with a parent anymore, and as I read these stories, my heart broke. Not just for them, but for the foster, step, and adoptive mothers who I have seen come into our building overwhelmed and confused about what to do with their child’s sudden behavior issues and academic depressions.Now, this is not to say that these things DON’T exist. Not at all. But what do we give the kids who need to know that it isn’t ALWAYS the case?
As a writer though, it also gave me hope. Seeing these stories reminded me of why I write stories, articles and blogs. It reminded me that I am using my voice properly. Like I said, I have nothing against these particular books, as they were generally very good stories. However, it did motivate me to learn MORE about foster care, adoption, step-parenting, family planning, and spreading this very valuable word. I don’t want you to walk away from this blog feeling like the books were awful or how dare those authors. What I do want is for you to make it your business to seek out inspiring and factual tales. I want to inspire you to read up on EVERYTHING concerning this movement. Because if we don’t talk about it positively, someone else will spew out the negative and the cycle of African American and general ignorance to the foster, adoption and infertility experience will continue.
And since closed mouths don’t get fed,
Here’s a few morsels:
(by the way, Ball don’t lie will be in theater’s “soon”, read the book, see the movie – that was my librarian moment
Regina Townsend is the primary author and founder of TheBrokenBrownEgg. A librarian and writer, Regina’s mission is to make people aware and active about the unique concerns of reproductive health in the minority community.