When I read the familiar Nativity stories in the Bible, I find myself connecting with Joseph.
Because if I take those stories literally, Joseph was a step-father. His son bore none of his DNA. None. Jesus was an adopted child.
And I wonder how Joseph felt about that.
I don’t have adopted children. I have adopted grandchildren. They come from Ethiopia. Neither of them will ever remotely resemble me -- an Irish-Scots Canadian with fair skin, blue eyes, and what used to be blonde hair.
* * *
I hope, I trust, I believe that they will survive the adjustments that challenge all adopted children. So much will depend on the friends they choose, as they progress toward adulthood.
And there I discover a streak of prejudice within myself that I hadn’t known I had. Because I picture them gathering in a cluster of high school youth, who are black like them. In that context, I become the outsider. And despite my efforts to banish any racial prejudices, a shadowy corner of my mind still seems to harbour unflattering stereotypes of rebellious black youths, school dropouts, gang members, Rastas…
I don’t want my grandchildren hanging out with that kind of person. I want them to associate with – well, with educated, intelligent, purposeful kids. Whom I tend to visualize as white. Like me.
I hope – dear God, how I hope! – that as they grow, as they test their limits (and ours!), that I never Never NEVER yield to the temptation to blame their genetic ancestry. If they carried my own DNA, I couldn’t. But they don’t. Somehow, I have to wipe that awareness out of my mind, to see only two delightful children whom I love with all my heart.
And I wonder if Joseph ever had similar thoughts about his adopted son.
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