Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is being a Buddhist a deal breaker?

Last week we had another inquiry about a child in the States. Actually in a state my husband happens to be visiting in a few weeks for business. The director of our adoption agency asked me if we considered ourselves a Christian couple. Mmmm. No. That was the end of that. There's a reason why I mention that I'm a Buddhist in our profile. (And left out the part about my husband being an atheist.) I was concerned about it naturally because most people don't really know what a Buddhist is. Other than the most relevant point that a Buddhist does not believe in God. And that we wear orange robes, live in incensed filled homes and praise a smiling, fat Buddha statue. I don't want to get all excited and fly somewhere to meet a birth mum and then have to answer the inevitable religion question. It's odd that it could be a deal breaker since if this birth mother is Christian she is 1) "unexpectedly" knocked up 2) not married and 3) considering giving up parental rights to a child that her family/community won't help her raise. Perhaps it's just a comfort level thing. Would someone who has a better insight explain this to me? Teendoc just recently had her child baptised and it was a really big deal for her. It's a beautiful, touching and powerful ritual I know. Even though we were both baptised, I could not make the same promise.

I was raised Christian myself, going to church, Anglican, evangelical (okay my mum dragged us to this one and I read comics or Nancy Drew because the falling down and speaking in tongues freaked me out) and as an adult, Unity. I can't say I've read the entire bible, end to end, but I've read most of it, I really did look for answers. I sat in the pews and listened to the priests and it all sounded nice but somewhat hollow. I've received Holy Communion and drank the wine. I went to Baptist, Catholic, Protestant and United services. I've even had my spiritual moments. But what repulsed and disappointed me in the end was the astounding hypocrisy of so called believers. From laypeople to priests, I've seen the most disgusting behaviour, such indifference, such arrogance and moral laziness. Humanity is far from perfect I know and I don't blame God for that. However, when I was introduced to Buddhism, it was more of a philosophy that I could really understand in my heart. I was not required to denounce Christianity or anything else.
(As a matter of fact, most of the heated finger wagging comes from the former Catholics.)

It was another way of looking at the world, and the most empowering aspect was that I was accountable for the sanctity of my life and others. Just me. I am a Buddha. You are a Buddha. I don't worship a Buddha idol, I don't wear orange robes, and yes, I eat meat. My meditation is a chant that you say out loud. It gives me hope and courage and determination in the midst of happiness and in the midst of suffering. I try to help and encourage others. How is that a deal breaker?

A Buddhist goes up to a hot dog vendor and the hot dog vendor says, "What will you have?" and the Buddhist says, "I'll have one with everything." The vendor charges him $3.50 so the Buddhist gives him $5, but the vendor doesn't give him anything back. The Buddhist says, "Hey, what about my change?" and the vendor says, "Change comes from within."


OHN said...

Some of the reasons you stated are why I call myself a "recovering" Catholic. I too have tried several places of worship and I find the best place is somewhere I am alone and can think in peace, smell flowers, or watch the deer in my yard.

Why is it that the people that profess to be the holiest are usually the snarkiest and nasty?

tobacco brunette said...

I'm sorry the inquiry went no further than your religion. That's sad because you seem to be a very spiritual, kind, loving, and morally aware individual. Your faith seems to be an intrinsic part of you and I think that is very rare. If I were looking for a woman of faith to raise my child, you'd be the obvious choice to me.

I've perused adoption sites before, looking at the couples' profiles, and I did notice that the majority of them mention their Christian faith and I've always wondered about that. Why are Christians so appealing as adoptive parents? I hope some readers give you insight, because it's something I'm curious about.

Is it as simple as most women who give up a child for adoption are Christian or is it something more than that?

Shinejil said...

It's a tough question here in the US. Christianity is more like a brand name for many people as opposed to a deeply held spiritual conviction--forget practice or path. You can't get elected without claiming Christianity as part of your identity (at least at most levels of government and in most parts of the country). Yet Americans are attending church less and less frequently and are less and less inclined to identify with a particular church/denomination.

At the same time, there are also many folks who have a positive view of Buddhism, even if they don't understand it very well. Even here in the boondocks. It seems like you have many things going for you, and that your faith/practice shouldn't be too huge a road block.

Teendoc said...

I don't know if you know this about me, but I was baptized Presbyterian and went to a Presby church until age 7 when I went to live with my mother. Afterwards we went to no church or Religious Scientist Church (not to be confused with Christian Science). Then in my teens I became an atheist. In college I became agnostic and then Catholic.

I'm a converted Catholic but what I commonly call myself is a Cafeteria Catholic. My belief along my journey has been that you take what you need from religion to make yourself a better person. But a faith unexamined (ie blind faith) is worse than no faith at all.

My husband is an atheist (though I think he's more of a spiritual agnostic). We decided that since I was the only one of the two of us with a true faith, I would be responsible for Zara's exposure to the Church.

As a rational Catholic, I hope to provide a foundation in faith that will allow her to begin her own religious journey. Her baptism was a symbol of the beginning of her journey.

Anyway, I'm rambling. But unless you are using a religious adoption agency (we didn't), I don't think your being Buddhist will make one iota of difference to the right expectant mother. People look for all sorts of different qualities. The right child will find you.

Pamela T. said...

Loved the irony of the "Christian" woman who obviously fell off the wagon but is holding others to a higher standard. Such a crazy world we live in...

Lori Lavender Luz said...

On a . com there is a section for Pagan/Earth-based posts. Currently there is a thread with someone who was picked by an expectant mom beCAUSE she is Buddhist.

And another expectant mom who wants to know how to find a pagan family to adopt her baby. (No solicitation is allowed there, and I couldn't get a feel for how legit the situation was).

My point is that you are not looking for just ANY match -- you are looking for the right match. Just as you did when you chose your husband as the one to marry. He wasn't just a guy, he was THE guy.

FWIW, I think you are going about this in exactly the right way, by being true to yourself and true to your word.

Unsolicited assvice: you might want to address these misperceptions about Budddhism in your profile, if you haven't already.

One View said...

OH my gosh...

"But what repulsed and disappointed me in the end was the astounding hypocrisy of so called believers"

What you said.. here I so relate to. I too used to go to church and actually met my DH at a Christian church. I think I still believe in God but I was so turned off by the people. Not one so called friend I met at church stood by me through my IF and could support me through it. All they could do was offer me empty words and only say things like "In Gods Time" and I'll pray for you... than all disappeared out of my life when I stopped going to church and I started losing my way and faith because of my IF. It was so disappointing and still turned off by it.

I'm sorry that you feel like Christianity is a factor in being picked. I just don't think it should be that way and people should look at the heart and the character of the person. I agree with Lori, just be true to yourself and the right match will come. Good luck.

Wordgirl said...

I do think about those introduction letters --

I, a former Catholic, can relate the hypocrisy you mentioned -- I have a GLBT family and I've seen my family members struggle with the faith they were raised in -- and then hear the vitriol directed at them...not always of course, there are wonderful open-minded people of every faith...but so often I do see the vocal few with their closed minds.

I have to believe that it isn't a dealbreaker, and that perhaps as someone mentioned it's a draw -- that the very right door will open and there the person will be with your child meant for your family.

I really believe that.