Recently, I have had reason to examine the procedures governing the adoption of children in Jamaica. While doing so, I discovered that the laws were biased in favour of single women and married couples. I found it disconcerting that single men were not allowed to adopt female Jamaican children unless in exceptional situations. On an average day, I am ‘feministically inclined’ so it also puzzled me that I was not comfortable with this situation. It led me to ponder the question “What do Jamaicans expect of men?” Why are single men less worthy than single women to care for children who are not biologically theirs?
I decided to run the question by some of my Facebook friends. The general consensus that men are not considered to be nurturing, they are seen as a source of financial income and physical strength. They are perceived as irresponsible, unruly, disorganized and more likely to be criminals – murderers, thieves and swindlers – than parents. Let me point out at this juncture that Jamaica is not the only country that discriminates against single men in the adoption process; I still believe strongly that we should never underestimate the vices of women.
I also pondered whether the ‘average’ Jamaican man would even consider adopting a child. With the prevalence of what I like to call ‘Virility Music’ – dancehall lyrics that promote frequent and vigorous heterosexual intercourse with multiple partners – a man would be labelled as sterile or gay should he attempt to ‘commit’ such an unthinkable act. Perhaps if a single man expressed interest in adopting a child, he would be suspected of paedophilia.
The relationship between our expectations and reality could be considered a lot like the chicken/egg situation. People anticipate and react based on previous experiences and traditions. It is also true that our expectations and attitudes can influence the actions and general behaviour of those around us. It is a difficult cycle to ponder. Chief among the causes of Jamaica’s various social ills is that we do not expect much from our men. In this arena we need to adopt Digicel’s slogan “Expect More. Get More.”
Please examine the below photograph of Robert and his three boys. I met them at the beach where he was watching over them as they played around in the water and sand. I remain encouraged.
I strongly believe that if we persuade our men to believe in their capabilities there would be more admirable men and an even more beautiful Jamaica. Perhaps it is the smoke from my flamingly patriotic heart that has clouded my eyes but I still have great expectations for my country and I do believe that one day she will live up to them.