This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

October 19, 2009

On Grief and Guilt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — pprscribe @ 12:23 pm

Folks who followed me on my Old Blog know that my research area was child adoption. With my new gig, I do not get to follow the adoption literature as much as I used to. But every once in a while I come across a story in the mainstream press that makes me feel my time in the trenches was of value and that reignites my desire to get back to that work someday in some capacity. The former Anti-Racist Parent blog—rechristened as “Love Isn’t Enough” (tagline: “on raising a family in a colorstruck world”)—features an excellent post on one such recent story.

Whenever one of these stories surfaces, I am usually involved in giving the other side of the man-bites-dog aspects, assuring people that in the majority of cases it is the other way around but that dog-bites-man is deemed to not be a very interesting news story. Alright. Perhaps not the best metaphor. But the point is, despite stories like a family “returning” a child they had adopted, most adoptions do not entail this result—even most special needs and transracial and transnational adoptions. This is in large part due to the increased skill and preparation of many adoption agencies in screening and preparing potential and prospective adopters. (I’d like to think that academic research and the adoption blogosphere has also played a role, but that is a separate story…)

Nevertheless, stories like Anita Tedaldi’s usually strike a chord and, in the process, reveal much about our attitudes about family and privilege. Thea Lim’s piece is one of the best I have read discussing the issues. She concludes:

Tedaldi describes her feelings as “grief.” Grief is what we have when we lose a friend or a family member to death, or to the vagaries of life. Grief is not – at least not mainly – what we have when we utterly fuck up and totally let someone down. That is called guilt.

Grief is also what we have when we lose a dream. But D. is not a dream, not a realisation of the adoption fantasy Tedaldi admits to having had her whole life. He’s a human.

This is not a story about a mother and a child. This is not even a story about a woman and a baby. It’s a story about two humans. But that keeps getting lost in the mix.

Original posting at Racialicious! (plus lengthy comment thread)

1 Comment »

  1. This post appears to be one that will require a little processing. I say that because I ‘ve yet to read the story (link)but I am already feeling emotions.

    Your setup was great, and the excerpt called out to my heart. Pain and suffering, shame and guilt, are emotions, I believe, we all have struggled with.

    As I said, I am going to read the link in my quiet time. I think it’s going to need a space of it’s own. I might be back.

    Comment by careycarey — October 19, 2009 @ 1:56 pm


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