Monday 20 October 2014

Where Was Their Mother?

For about forty years Catholics have been fighting the idea that fathers are redundant. And now we are faced with the proposition that mothers themselves can be redundant. As a woman, this horrifies me on the deepest level. Which crusty old Athenian was it who wailed that if only men could have sons without women's help, how wonderful life would be? I forget; I haven't reread the passage since I was an undergrad.

On Saturday night, the BBC--radio, internet and television-- ran a news item about the Synod on the Family so confused, so untruthful and so biased that my husband shouted his outrage at the top of his lungs when he heard it on the radio. Later I heard it on the 10 o'clock news with visuals and a short interview with two handsome Italian men in their twenties or thirties who were sitting on what looked like a child's bedroom floor with four or five children of roughly the same age playing around them. The BBC presenter described them as their children, and my heart cried out, "Where is their mother?"

To be honest, it is likely the children had different mothers--all white, I think, more on that anon--but the actual, factual origins of the children were not explained. How, I wondered, had the "gay couple" collected them all? Had they sired them, adopted them, or bought them from a surrogate? And how much did they pay? They looked very relaxed to be the parents of four or five children under ten.  I know Italian parents of three children, and they look exhausted.

"You look tired," said the father to the mother one time I visited.

She looked at him with mingled amusement and amazement.

"I've been tired since [the first one] was born," she said.

The "gay couple" said that they wanted to raise their children as "Catholics", but there was nowhere for them to go. Somewhere somebody played the world's smallest, saddest violin for the epitome of rich European male privilege.

The BBC published the interview as part of its intensely confused, untruthful and biased story without anyone asking why the "gay couple" wanted to raise their children as Catholics in the first place. At the very heart of Catholicism, at the very middle, right in the centre, is a young mother holding her baby in her arms.

"Who's that, Popcorn?" asked Alisha, Popcorn's nanny, pointing to an icon on the kitchen wall.

Popcorn was about two then; she squealed with enthusiasm.

"That's Jesus' MA-MAAA!"

I wonder how many women across Britain looked at the "gay family" and thought "How cute!" and how many looked and cried, "Where is their mother?" For no matter how mad we--especially we women--get mad at our mothers later--when we are very small, we long for our mothers. And I believe that, despite all the reprogramming attempts, the vast majority of women long for their children.

Adoption is much more controversial that we generally think it. Many mothers who give up their children do so not because they "cannot cope" with a child but because they know the children will be better off without them. If they had the money, or the help, or whatever else, they would keep them. Google "adopting Syrian children" and you will immediately find a lecture on how the Syrians wish to keep their children, so keep your greedy hands off.

Adoption is also expensive. I know a married woman who has not been able to get pregnant, but her husband makes a good salary, so they have looked into foreign adoption. But they have discovered that the only affordable option is to apply within the USA. However, because they are "white" and the majority of babies available for adoption in the USA are "black", they have to take special consciousness-raising classes. The woman loves these classes, but I am not so sure I would. If anything is a social construct, it's so-called race. And many people become furious at the idea of mixed-race adoption anyway as if being "raised by white people" in the USA puts a not-particularly "white"-looking child at a great disadvantage, as is (/sarc on/) so obvious in the life and career of Barack Obama (/sarc off/).

We are all told that the state and everybody else wants what is best for the children. And the Catholic faith, which has had two thousand years to study the question, says that what is best for children is to be raised by their biological parents, including a woman (their mother) and a man (their father). In unfortunate circumstances, it may be better (or, in case of orphans, absolutely necessary) for a child to be raised by another woman and man married to each other: B.A. was raised by his divorced mother and her married parents, and I credit his grandfather for the fact that B.A. has done as well as he has. Funny how it never occurs to me to credit his mother and grandmother, too.  I guess, being behind the times, I just take mothers' participation in the lives of their children for granted.

When I think about Catholic married couples who struggle to have children and/or who struggle to earn enough money to raise their children, it makes me furious to see a pair of white men on television who appear to have collected children like toys complaining of their own marginalization. But that comes later. What such a sight does first is to draw my attention to the glaring absence of



  1. They want to raise their children as Catholics because they're not content to accept that the Church doesn't accept their "lifestyle" but will still pretty much leave them alone anyway -- they want the Church to approve of what they're doing. They want universal approval. Why they want that isn't clear to me. Why do they care what the Church thinks? No idea.

  2. Too bad you don't work for the BBC! That is a very good question.

  3. One of my little fantasies about disobedience is to not pay for the TV license upon my return. I wish I could do more to protest but haven't got a better idea.

  4. Yes agreed. Caroline Farrow writes well on this issue. There was one on her blog a while back about 2 men, homos*xuals (sick of the word gay, so fed up with it) running a surrogacy business, with a few kids of their own. You'll find it if you google surrogacy in there.They were doing a documentary and on camera, basically told their son that he was not what they ordered because his hair was wrong, or curly, or the wrong colour. Kiddo's face fell, he must be about ten. God love him. They treat them as accoutrements in order to deny the reality of the obvious sterility of their bedroom life. Look at us, we have kids, we look like you, we're just as Good As You. I've had it up to here with it all this lunacy.

    I really like the way your blog is taking shape now Seraphic, it's finding its feet and coming together lovely. I like it.


  5. My friends tried to adopt a child from Russia, and they had to take awareness classes as well, even though they are white, and the child would be white too. It seems like that is a standard procedure in the international adoption process. That adoption fell through due to the deteriorating relations between Russia and the US.

  6. Oh, how sad for them all that it fell through. Well, I am not really surprised about awareness classes for adopting a child (not a baby) from another country. I don't imagine it would be that ideology tinged--for example, one would not have to internalize and come to grips with how suspicious the average American was of Russians for forty years, and how unfair and prejudiced this was, etc., etc. and have YOU dealt with your own obvious anti-Russian bias, etc., etc. Well, I hope to foster one day, and as I am Catholic and a "minority" (i.e. foreign) and willing to foster "minority" children, no doubt I will get awareness classes too. Actually, I will probably need them.

  7. I just spent several days trying to argue this point on another blog, which although run by an orthodox Catholic, had acquired a troll who kept insisting that the suggestion that children needed two parents of the opposite sex, preferably their own biological parents, was so radical (i.e. unpopular and against current trends) that it required proof.

    Adoption is indeed more controversial than many people realise, and for more, and uglier, reasons than even you suggest. First, there is a good deal of chicanery in the world of adoption, with many babies stolen or bribed away or otherwise wrested from their biological mothers, or else bought directly by adoption agencies (i.e. the mothers get paid to get pregnant and then give up their children) to sell on again to would-be parents with money, making it into another form of surrogacy. Second, even honest adoptions - this makes me sad but it must be said - often "fail" in that the parents and child do not bond properly. There is a site online run by adoptees who experienced such adoptions, and who argue that children should never be adopted away from their biological families (i.e. grandparents, aunts etc. if their own parents can't do it) except when absolutely necessary. I don't know how common such people are but I expect there are more of them than we might think.

    Alias Clio

  8. Well, they were planning to adopt a baby, and it was very sad when it fell through. Incidentally, these friends had a biological child after, and today is her birthday. Still, I know it was a very heart breaking time for them. All of my friends got a letter from the husband asking us all NOT to mention anything about it to his wife.

    I think of the awareness classes were to be sure adoptive parents knew what they could be facing, like fetal alcohol syndrome, etc. that are common with adopted children from Russia. Part of it was also to be sure that anti-Russian bias wouldn't be a problem.

    I really hope you and BA get to foster children. :-)


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