It was my illustrator friend David who had come up with the idea of doing a book for Christian. However, what really got me to start working on the Squirky series was the fact that most adoption literature I came across provide a very Western perspective. Wouldn’t it be cool to have Asian adoptive parents portrayed for a change?
This is why I was disappointed when I heard that the National Library Board (NLB) in Singapore had removed The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption because of a mention of a lesbian couple. It narrowed the representation of adoption even further in a society that has so much ignorance and misconceptions on this subject. A lot has been written about this controversy of NLB removing children’s books, and I think the best summary can be found here.
When I expressed this disappointment with the book ban and pulping these past few days, I was questioned by some friends as to why I am against this library book ban when I am a parent and I am a Christian. I would like to think that it’s because I’m a parent and am a Christian that this ban does not sit well with me. And for the record, here’s why.
1. As an adoptive parent...
– I already found the range of adoption literature in NLB limited.
– By removing this book, the government and the library has sent a secondary message that adoption is not pro-family either.
– Just like how I feel it is important to show Asian adoptive parents, other types of adoptive families should be reflected as well in children’s books. The White Swan Express has made it a point to reflect a variety of adoptive families in society today.
– How would a child raised by same-sex parents feel if adoption books refuse to acknowledge the existence of his or her type of family? Or if libraries only carried adoption books featuring “conventional families”?
– I believe that parents should be the ones deciding what books are appropriate for their young children.
2. As a Christian…
– I have been blessed with certain spiritual mentors in my life who are NOT related by blood but who have selflessly been my emotional caregivers during my adolescence. I know that family goes beyond a biological father and mother and siblings.
– It disturbs me as to how some people from the same religion as me are expressing so much distaste for people with different beliefs from them. To me, Christianity should never ever be about that.
– Besides, didn’t Jesus grow up in a rather non-traditional family if you think about the circumstances surrounding his conception?
i.e. a single mother and an adoptive father? (Mary was not a single mother soon after, so I’ve removed these words to express my point more accurately)
– My husband and I feel blessed to be in Singapore, a country with one of the most efficient and painless adoption processes in the world. But we are also saddened that we have met fellow believers who think that something is wrong with us for not being able to have our own biological children, for thinking that adoption is shameful and should be hidden at all costs, for not really giving two hoots that adoptive families barely get a voice in this society.
And that is why I am against this book ban. However, that being said, I have been talking to people from both sides of the fence and am realising that it’s not such an us vs. them issue. I would always want to listen to what my friends have to say. And for whatever it is worth, I’m glad people in Singapore are starting to open their mouths and express themselves. The next step perhaps is to express these differences with respect.