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From the President's Desk-January 2014

Yospicture130206 100x135This week my girlfriend took me to see a documentary at the National Archives in Washington, DC called Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story. “Brown Babies” is a term used for children who were born to black American soldiers and white European women during and after World War II; many of these children, now in their mid-50s and 60s, use this term to describe themselves today.

When the United States military occupied Germany after the Second World War, its policies made it hard for soldiers to have relationships with German women openly. Also, racist United States laws during that era made multi-ethnic relationships and marriages a crime: there were soldiers who were forbidden from marrying their girlfriends or reassigned out of Germany away from their children.

These children of American soldiers were rejected by the United States government and also marginalized by the German government. Mothers who couldn’t support their children alone or were heartbroken by their partners’ reassignment often gave the children up to state orphanages, but those orphanages struggled to find the children stable homes. Fortunately an African-American socialite who married a military man stationed in Germany met some of these children and fell in love with them. She took it upon herself to manage the international adoptions of hundreds of the thousands of babies and children who’d been caught between what Germany and the United States thought about black and multi-ethnic people. She also adopted 12 children herself!

We now know that there have been about 7,000 Brown Babies adopted by African-American families in Germany and the United States since World War II. The documentary tells some of the stories of these children, most of whom didn’t find out about their German ancestry until they became adults. 

While many of the children were adopted into loving, caring families and never had the desire to search for their biological mothers or fathers, those who ended up in loveless or difficult families searched for years and years to find their biological parents. As you can imagine, some of these stories had very happy endings; but, sadly, not all have.

As I watched this film about babies unwanted because of their societies’ prejudices, it reminded me of how LGBTI current and former Adventists are often unwanted because our church won’t claim us. Many of ushave felt abandoned by our church and ignored. A lot of people in the wider LGBTI culture also think we’re strange for claiming that same church, the church that won’t claim us. 

But this is part of why Kinship exists, to help bridge our homes in the Adventist community and the LGBTI community, and to support each one of us who was raised in the church whether we remain members as adults or have left the church far behind. Not every LGBTI Adventist needs or wants a community like Kinship, but I believe it must be available for everyone who does.

This year I want Kinship to lead the way in showing the love and compassion to others that we don’t often receive. Our church could use a lot of lessons in love, and we have that love to share. Kinship will continue to speak up with and for our members around the world, and as a community we will respond when others try to put us down. The video series we’re working on will spread the truth about us: that our community is healthy and happy and will not go away even when others refuse to see or welcome us. As LGBTI people, whatever our religion or philosophy, we don’t deserve to be merely tolerated. We deserve to be accepted, affirmed, loved, respected, and, if we so desire, to worship with others. We’re not valuable because of our church of origin and the Brown Babies weren’t valuable because they were American and German. They and we are valuable and worthy of love simply because we’re human.

This year, Kinship isn’t going to argue with our naysayers. But we are going to tell the truth about our community and how beautiful it is to not give into shame and prejudice but to live in love and as the authentic, whole people we are. Please help us to tell the truth this year! Share the Kinship website and Facebook page with your friends and loved ones, and let’s spread the love in 2014!

Yolanda Elliott, President
SDA Kinship International
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Journey - Chapter 1