The Adventures of Squirky the Alien

A Children's Book Series on Adoption

The Representation of Adoption

6 Comments

Illustration by David Liew

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.

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “The Representation of Adoption

  1. You’ve made some valid points. I’m so glad for adoptive parents because without them, there would be even more children out there in need of a loving home. I don’t quite understand why adoptive parents would face any criticism for not being able to have biological children. It’s not usually something one can control.

    I would like to also address a few of the points you made regarding being an adoptive parent and also a Christian because I think it’s important to carefully navigate this deep topic to make sure everyone is on the same page.

    “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?”
    They might begin to think there was something unnatural about their family structure. It is unfortunate that some children do not have the benefits that come with having the complimentary rolls of both a mother and father.

    “I believe that parents should be the ones deciding what books are appropriate for their young children.”
    This is absolutely true which is why many parents have decided to restrict from their children books that seek to normalize lifestyles they believe to be harmful to their children. Those who wish to introduce these lifestyles to their children are free to do so. I’m confident these books are still available for purchase elsewhere.

    “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.”
    Christianity is about Christ and love. Christians are told first to love God and then second, love the people God made. Since the Bible makes it clear (Romans 1:27, Leviticus 18:22, etc.) that homosexuality is wrong, Christians (in loving their neighbors) have chosen to reject the world’s self-destructive path by saving it from something Christians have been told by God is a sin. If you believe in all your heart that something is bad for someone, but you stand by and quietly allow it to happen, you are not showing love at all. This is where the church stands. The message may not always come across so gracefully as Christians are also fallen sinners, but at the heart of the issue is love for others.

    “Besides, didn’t Jesus grow up in a non-traditional family i.e. a single mother and an adoptive father?”
    I haven’t yet heard anyone objecting to the book because it had adoption or single-parent families. The issue the church (and many others) is taking with the books is that they promote the normalization of homosexual relationships while many parents wish to teach their children that while these relationships exist, it is not normal or natural (as according to the bible). Many parents wish to be in control of the timing of exposure to this sensitive topic, just like any other sexual education. Most people would agree there is a certain time in life where the birds and the bees should not yet be discussed.

    I really hope I have not offended anyone as that is not my intention. I just wish to make clear why there is opposition to these books from the church.

    • Hi Mindy, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. You definitely have God’s interests at heart. To clarify, I do know adoption/single parents are not the “targets”, but they have become the “casualties” e.g. now there’s talk that only conventional families should be taught? Some of the arguments are heading towards very narrow-minded, judgmental point of views.

      To me, I feel that libraries as a secular public institution should carry a diverse range of books. I feel children from all kinds of backgrounds should be able to find books that relate to their lives.

      Here’s an article that perhaps explains where I’m coming from better: http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/should-christian-parents-ban-books/

  2. Thank you for sharing that article! It’s a great one and I also read a few more articles on that site. 😝 It’s so true that parents need to walk along side their children and learn together. When Christians do encounter these types of books with their children, walking them through the concepts and taking time to explain their beliefs is so important.
    I like the analogy about prison inmates and I can personally relate to that from my own childhood. Haha. I think sometimes it can seem safer to over “protect” our children. I guess the issue now with these books is that parents have varying levels of comfort in both the timing (age level) and the media (story books) of this sensitive topic. People all draw their lines in different places which explains the current hoopla. 😆

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