Friday, January 3, 2014

The real face of racism

I'm offended. Generally speaking, it takes quite a bit to offend me, but this one really takes the cake. An MSNBC panel led by Melissa Harris-Perry recently made fun of an adopted baby whose race is different from his adoptive family's. This hits close to home. My daughter does not share my ethnicity. Apparently MSNBC thinks she's less my kid than if she had come from my body. Thanks. I'll try to remember that next time I have a sleepless night because little 'A' isn't feeling well, or the next time I have to hold a screaming baby still while a nurse draws blood, or perhaps the next time baby girl throws herself a little tantrum in Target. Yes, she's just a token. Clearly my husband and I adopted her to prove we aren't racist. Thanks for clearing that up, Melissa Harris-Perry, et. al.

By and large, I'm aware that people are generally curious about adoption, and I try to be open so people can ask me questions. In my own little way, I like to help dispel some of the myths. In my experience, most people are genuine and mean no harm. I have been asked all sorts of questions like "where is your daughter from?" "what is she?" and one sweet person even told me she had reservations about our raising a child of another ethnicity. Hey, so did we. It means we choose to explore cultures other than our own. Not something most parents have to do. I get it.

So, let me clear something up for the hatemongers at MSNBC: Adoption is hard. I know. I've done it. And, for the record, I've talked to parents with both adopted and biological children, and they've confirmed the difficulty as unique. Yes, I didn't go through labor and delivery, and any weight I gained I couldn't blame on a baby (my big regret). But, I've had strangers walk through my home and inspect it, counting fire extinguishers and asking for maps of escape routes. I've had to provide dozens of pages of private financial and medical information, numerous FBI and state fingerprint checks, records on every address I've had for the past 20 years, and health history for a dozen of my closest relatives. Oh yeah, and I had to find six people who thought I was qualified to parent and ask them to write reference letters. Then, once our application was in, we had to take parenting classes, CPR and first aid, read books, write reports, and provide several hours worth of interviews. The list goes on. And, if that isn't enough, we had to answer questions about parenting style, sign piles of affidavits, and have special approval to adopt a non-caucasian baby. Yes, you read that correctly, we had to have special approval to adopt a non-caucasian baby. The agency had to feel certain that we weren't racist and that we were prepared for raising a baby of a different skin color and ethnic background.

All of that before we were approved to adopt.

Once we were approved, we had to submit our profile to potential situations that we thought were a good match. We were denied numerous times. 

Finally, we were matched with a baby, with whom we lived in a hotel away from our families for the first week-and-a-half of her life. Then, within two weeks of 'A's' birth, we had to visit an out-of-state court and answer questions under oath before a judge, argue repeatedly with our insurance company to convince them that they had to cover our daughter on our policy, wait for permission from the court system to go home, and have a social worker come into our house and make sure everything was ok - all before I was a mom for two weeks. 

Over the next six months, we had to provide letters and documents to the agency updating them on our daughter's growth and medical care, notify our agency whenever we went out of state, have three more social worker visits to make sure, again, that the state would be comfortable granting us permanent custody, and get re-fingerprinted to keep all our clearances current until our finalization.

All of that before our adoption became final six months after 'A' was born. 

And, guess what. We'd do it all over again. Because our daughter is worth it. 

But here's the point. The parents of this beautiful little boy being referenced on MSNBC had to go through pretty much the same thing that we did. And the best this news panel could do is call the baby a token, suggest that 23 whites and 1 black accurately represent the GOP, and sing "one of these things is not like the other" while looking at the family picture and then suggest how humorous it would be if this baby grew up to marry Kanye West's daughter making the Romneys and the Wests in-laws? REALLY? How disgracefully sophomoric.

Here's the reason, though, that what they did was apparently ok: the beautiful family in the picture, the family being mocked for having a token black kid, the family whose precious little adopted baby is a token is none other than the Romney family. Yup. So, that makes all of this acceptable. Apparently all of the "black conservatives" in the GOP are only tokens - Allen West, Herman Cain, Condoleezza Rice (notably, the first female black Secretary of State), Mia Love, Angela McGlowan, Star Parker, Thomas Sowell, and Clarence Thomas, to name a few. According to some on the progressive side, the only black people that can think for themselves are liberals. And, the only white people who aren't racist are liberals. 

Lest I be misunderstood, I think there is racism on both sides of the aisle just like I think there are good people on both sides. And, I am aware that Harris-Perry apologized. Big deal. 

The over-arching problem is that racist and bigoted behavior is tolerated when it comes from the left. Tea Party Americans can be called by sexual slurs (teabaggers), Sarah Palin can be referred to as a pig, President Obama can say "typical white person"...hey, some liberals even make fun of their own, suggesting that Obama previously could have been fetching coffee (Bill Clinton to Ted Kennedy) and that he wouldn't know how to sell watermelons (Dan Rather). 

But, I suppose when you don't really have an argument that holds water, the next best thing to do is to sling mud. 

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