I try to avoid reading comments that people leave on online news articles–especially anything having to do with something as divisive as politics–because whenever I do, I become so disappointed in society. For reasons beyond my understanding, some people thrive on being mean and hateful.
So, I wasn’t exactly surprised at the horrible comments made after an MSNBC TV host asked her panel of guests to “caption” the Romney family photo shown above with Mitt Romney holding his new adopted infant grandson, who happens to be black. The TV panel guests poked fun of the photo, with one guest singing, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn’t the same.” [Seriously? A grown adult mocking a child for being adopted? On television? What?]
As sad as that was, the online comments I saw about the photo were far worse.
I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney but who cares?! My political views don’t mean I get to mock his family or that I don’t think the photo of him holding his new grandchild, front and center, is absolutely beautiful. With a biological grandchild on one knee and his adopted grandchild on the other, Romey is saying that, in his eyes and the eyes of his family, both are equally his grandchildren. It’s a sweet photo and you can tell that baby is lucky to have been welcomed into such a seemingly warm and loving family (even if they’re wearing a bit too much plaid). He is surrounded by love.
That love is what people should have commented on. But instead, people left racist, hateful comments that were difficult to read. I can only imagine how the Romney family felt upon seeing them. It’s awful. I mean, what is wrong with people? We talk about bullying in our kids’ schools, but where do we think they learn it from?
A response to the MSNBC segment, Why Romney Adoption Jokes Hurt, was written by a transracial adoptee–a biracial child raised in a white family. The writer says: “Against this backdrop, the misbegotten MSNBC jokes hurt. They don’t help. They are another reminder that adoptive families need to be always at the ready to support their children on matters of race and adoption. White parents will never fully understand what it means to be black or brown, but they can and should do their best to support their children.”
As Jamie and I prepare for the possibility of raising a child of another race, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the issues our family will face. I’ve realized that we will need to prepare for racism and ignorance and that we need to learn how best to empower our child against those things–to empower him or her to rise above negative comments and hurtful jokes and to embrace what makes our family unique.
I agree wholeheartedly with the writer of the article when she says: “So often, the thoughtlessness and carelessness of others results in deep pain for adoptees, who are already faced with navigating a life-long search for identity that begins with losing their original family. Insensitivity, ignorance and intolerance will fuel negative comments. The answer is to better to prepare and educate adoptive parents, practitioners, educators and the media to the sensitivities of adoption and race. Transracially adoption children should be protected and empowered, not singled out and mocked.”
I’ve been trying to get as educated as possible. I’ve been reading accounts of transracial adoptees to get an idea of what it felt like for them and what they wished their parents knew. I’ve joined a small online community of transracial adoptive parents who have recommended books and articles to read.
Unfortunately, though, no matter what I learn I know that Charlie’s experience will be his/her own and that at some point he will read or hear comments like the ones about the Romney family. And that will be hard. But we will do our best to instill self-confidence, self-worth, love, and empathy in our child so that, hopefully, hurtful comments will roll off his/her shoulders as much as possible. I will also teach him that people who say hateful things are the ones we should feel sorry for. Because, surely, anyone who willfully hurts another person based on the way they look, the color of their skin, or because of what makes them stand out in a crowd (or their own family!) must be a very sad, lonely, and desperate individual.
I can only hope the truth of that will sink in instead of the insensitive comments some people make.