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Reevaluating Beliefs and Exposing Racism in Evangelical Christianity with Harrison Mooney - Ep 107

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 08/21/2023

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Reevaluating Beliefs and Exposing Racism in Evangelical Christianity with Harrison Mooney

Growing up in an evangelical family, Harrison Mooney's life seemed like a carefully crafted script of faith and devotion. But beneath the surface, there was an unexpected twist that would send him spiraling into a world of self-discovery. As the only black child in a white family, Harrison's struggle to fit in took a toll on his soul. Little did he know, the very foundations of his beloved religion would come crashing down, revealing a shocking truth that would forever change his perception of faith and race. This is a story of a journey, a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns, and the power of unraveling the tangled threads of identity and belief.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Grasp the unique hardships and narratives of transracial adoptees.

  • Investigate the intersection of religion and race, recognizing the profound influence that the evangelical Christian church (especially) exerted on racial identity.

  • Understand the paramount importance of representation in literature in uplifting and authenticating marginalized communities.

  • Uncover the significance and emotional intricacies in adoptees' pursuit to seek and connect with their birth families.

  • Realize the crucial role adoptive parents play in affirming and supporting their children's exploration of identity and history.

 

📆 Community Calendar: UnravelingAdoption.com/Calendar

💌Sign up for our Unraveling Adoption email list: http://eepurl.com/hVIAVX

 

My special guest is Harrison Mooney

Stepping into our conversation today is journalist and adoptee, Harrison Mooney. Born and raised in Abbottville, British Columbia by a deeply religious white adoptive family, Harrison brings a unique perspective on the intersection of faith, race and adoption. His childhood mirrored his mother's, an immigrant who experienced displacement and the ensuing struggle to belong. With a writing career that encompasses renowned publications such as The Vancouver Sun and The Guardian, Harrison's exploration of his own narrative has touched hearts globally. His memoir Invisible Boy: A Memoir of Self-Discovery masterfully weaves together profound introspection and raw realism, offering a stark yet sympathetic perspective on his personal journey.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

Awakening to the Inconsistencies
Harrison's 'awakening' moment came during a college course on the transatlantic slave trade. It shattered his trust in his religious upbringing and sparked a reevaluation of the ideologies he had internalized. It was an awakening to the realities of racial oppression perpetuated by the church and the white nationalism entwined with his faith. His journey highlights the importance of questioning the narratives we've been taught and critically examining our inherited beliefs.

Religious Upbringing and Belonging
Religion, at times, can both be the cause of unity and discord. It holds the power to bring people together under a common belief system, creating a sense of shared belonging. Yet, it also has the potential to marginalize those who challenge its views, fostering an 'us against them' mentality that can deeply impact one's sense of personal identity and self-worth. In his conversation with Beth, Harrison delves into the profound influence of his family's religious beliefs on his life. His upbringing in an evangelical church, he says, wasn't merely an aspect of his life, but it was his life. Harrowing instances like the use of biblical interpretations to justify slavery, and the realization of the church's entanglement with racism, forced him to reevaluate the faith he'd grown up with. The conversation brings to the fore the complicated ties between religion, identity, and belonging.

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Other Resources:

 

 

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Unraveling Adoption is produced and hosted by Beth Syverson

Music written and performed by Joseph Nakao

Email questions or comments to [email protected]

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Support Unraveling Adoption on Patreon: Patreon.com/UnravelingAdoption

www.UnravelingAdoption.com

Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:01:06 - Harrison's Writing Style and Humor,
Beth praises Harrison's writing style and humor in his memoir. Harrison explains that humor was a way for him to cope with the nonsense of his childhood, and now he can look back and laugh at it.

00:04:06 - Birth Mom's Story and Displacement,
Harrison shares that his birth mom, an immigrant from Ghana, was separated from her family and experienced displacement. He draws parallels between his experience as an adoptee and her experience as an immigrant who lost her family.

00:06:31 - Simplified Adoption Story,
Harrison discusses the simplified version of his adoption story that he was told by his adoptive family. He was led to believe that his adoptive parents prayed for a baby and God gave him to them. He later discovers there is more to the story.

00:07:30 - Differential Treatment and Feeling Different,
Harrison explains that he was treated differently as the only black child in his adoptive family. He shares a story of being accused of arrogance and how no one acknowledged the racial element of the situation. This differential treatment affected his sense of belonging and identity.

00:13:59 - Understanding Double Consciousness,
The speaker discusses the concept of double consciousness, where one has a sense of self and a sense of how others perceive them. This is particularly relevant for adoptees who constantly feel the pressure to belong and often have to perform or tone down aspects of their identity.

00:14:49 - Religious Upbringing and Belonging,
Harrison talks about their religious upbringing in a radical Christian family. He describes the intense religious activities he was involved in and the pressure to conform. He also mentions the challenges of being a black adoptee in a white family and the connection between religion and their sense of belonging.

00:17:16 - Choosing Religiosity to Belong,
Harrison explains why he chose to embrace his family's religion despite the challenges. He was influenced by his older brother's rebellious path and the severe consequences he faced. He felt that rejecting religion would leave him completely alone and without a family.

00:18:23 - Awakening to the Inconsistencies,
In college, the speaker started questioning his beliefs due to new knowledge about the history of slavery and the Bible. He learned about the Ham doctrine, which was used to justify slavery and black inferiority. This realization made it difficult for him to continue following the religious teachings he had been taught.

00:22:02 - Evangelical Christianity and Racism,
Harrison discusses how evangelical Christianity often serves as a vehicle for white nationalism and racism.

00:27:31 - The Importance of Representation,
The guest discusses the importance of representation in literature and shares his personal experience of feeling validated and seen through diverse voices and stories.

00:29:51 - Estrangement from Adoptive Family,
Harrison reveals that their relationship with their adoptive family has been strained since the release of their book and discusses his emotional preparedness for the estrangement.

00:32:01 - Maintaining a Bond with Siblings,
The guest shares that he still has a bond with his older brother, although the rest of their adoptive family is estranged. He expresses his hope that someday he may hear from someone in his adoptive family.

00:34:10 - The Impact of the Memoir,
Harrison discusses his intentions behind writing his memoir and the potential impact it could have on the relationship between adoptees and their adoptive families. He emphasizes the importance of having conversations about adoption and acknowledging its complexities.

00:35:16 - Challenging Transracial Adoption,
The guest expresses his belief that transracial adoption is fundamentally problematic due to historical oppression and the theft of resources. He argues that adoptive parents should focus on supporting their child's exploration of their heritage and identity.

00:41:40 - The Importance of Genetic Mirroring,
Harrison discusses the term "genetic mirroring" and its significance in seeing oneself reflected in the world. Seeing one's own genetic traits is vital for adoptees, but not all have the opportunity. Harrison emphasizes the importance of reunion and encourages adoptees to explore their history.

00:42:12 - Reunion and Grief,
Harrison shares the bittersweet experience of finding and reconnecting with his birth mother, who unfortunately passed away due to leukemia. Despite the grief, Harrison finds solace in knowing that he had the chance to know and be known by his birth mother.

00:43:30 - Cherished Moments,
Harrison recalls a special moment with his birth mother before her passing, where she lovingly advised him about taking care of his hair. This intimate moment reminds him of the concrete connection he had with her and the importance of preserving memories.

00:44:30 - Missed Opportunities,
If Harrison had waited any longer to search for his birth mother, he would have missed the chance to meet her. He expresses gratitude for not delaying the reunion and encourages others to take similar actions to avoid missed opportunities.

00:46:12 - Adopt Whole Families,
Harrison suggests a solution to the adoption system by advocating for the adoption of whole families instead of separating babies from their birth parents. He reflects on how his life would have been different if his birth mother had been taken in and supported alongside him.