Juggler of words and children…collector of pottery shards
This was the song actress Pia Glenn chose (on MSNBC) as her caption for Mitt Romney’s family photo which featured his newly adopted African America grandchild, the lone spot of color in a sea of white.
Before I go any further, I need to make a disclaimer. I read a lot of news, a lot…but I neither watch Fox News or MSNBC. I am probably way too conservative for some people, and way too liberal for others. As I consider this incident, Mitt Romney doesn’t even register in my concern. I don’t care for politics much.
I do care about adopted kids, particularly kids who are adopted across the color line.
The fact that a “news team” would even choose to highlight this adopted child’s race as a topic of discussion is disgusting. To shine the spotlight on him, and mock him as different reveals both profound ignorance and cruelty.
I am the mother of five children. Three of them grew in my womb and reflect my fair skin, eyes and hair. Two of them were gifted to me from another beautiful family through devastating tragedy. That is the truth of adoption. It is beautiful. It is also tragic. Any time a child loses their birth family, we should all weep.
But when that child is received into an adopted family, the only response for a civil society is to affirm that child’s place in that family as one who is fully accepted…equal in every way.
Here is the painful, painful truth- most adopted children will struggle with the question of whether or not they truly “belong’ without anyone pouring salt in the wound. My daughters have been home for eight years now- loved, cherished, celebrated both as essential members of our family and as the unique young women of African descent they are. Still, the grief remains to be processed at times. Still, they need to hear- “You belong.”
And yet, something in the cruelty of society strives to tell them otherwise.
My older adopted daughter and my youngest biological son are in the same grade. When they were very small, they told everyone they met they were “twins”. That freaked some people out a little but I never corrected them. I knew that it was far more important that my kids knew they belonged to each other as siblings than whatever some stranger might think. And so, my babies- one mocha, one vanilla, grew very close as brother and sister.
Once, it came to my attention that some of my daughter’s classmates had been tormenting my children on the bus ride to and from school. Their taunt? “You know, you two could actually get married someday.”
“No, we can’t,” they replied.
“He’s my brother!”
“She’s my sister!”
The taunts continued on and on. It was the most painful sort of bullying because it struck at the heart of our family. It said- “Your family isn’t quite as good. It isn’t real. You don’t belong.”
It is as middle school mean as it gets but how much worse when it comes from adults who should know better? Instead, Ms. Glenn and her co-hosts chose their narcissistic need for attention over a little brown baby’s well being. A little brown baby who just gained a family…because he just lost everything. A little brown baby, in a sea of white who more than anything in the world needs to know that though he is not like the others, he will always and forever belong.