contemplation on steam

making coffee, half-awake, I watched the liquid in the pot heating, saw the steam rising, watched the tiniest of bubbles on the surface.

They bounced off each other, jostling at ever-greater speeds as they heated up

and I thought about how I saw the individual parts in my mind, imagining all those little beady molecules, picturing charts of fluid dynamics, dreamily considering scientific explanations of speed and temperature rising together and the changes between states of matter

and I wondered what it was like before that was understood, when it was fully a mystery, when a liquid was a liquid and not the mostly empty space of atoms

and I remembered reading about the discovery of oxygen and of photosynthesis

the invention of air

and smiled knowing something is now unknown that will be known in the future and will become a given

Adoptive Couple vs Baby Girl

Wow. I just heard the incredible Radiolab episode, “Adoptive Couple vs Baby Girl.” This is about a very complex case (originally written up in Slate) triggered by what at first glance seems to be just a custody case. But then why go to the US Supreme Court? Because it’s about the legal adoption by a white couple of a child whose biological father is a member of the Cherokee tribe, and the adoption was argued to be subject to (and voided by) the Indian Child Welfare Act. The history of ICWA and the story behind this case is gripping. And then I read that while the rest of us were hanging on this week’s SCOTUS rulings on the Voting Rights Act, DOMA, and same sex marriage, there was also a ruling in favor of the adoptive parents in the case now commonly referred to as “the baby Veronica case.” This one case has the potential to put the future of all the Native American tribes on shakier ground than it’s been in a long time through the possibility of (re-)defining who “qualifies” to be included in Indian law.

Weird that today I also read this article about how “black babies cost less” to adopt than white babies.

I have several friends who have adopted kids, some domestically and some from abroad, some within and some outside of their adoptive family’s visible ethnicity(-ies). Through their stories, I have learned that adoption is a complex world fraught with emotion and operating by its own rules. There will never be an absolute right or absolute wrong path. And some part of me feels that arguments over who “gets” to adopt a child are okay compared to the reality that so many children around the world grow up without families, without individual attention or even possibly love.

Still. All this tugs at me and nothing is easy or clear. It’s a Gordian knot, one that King Solomon’s sword is unwilling to cut.