Every year I go through the tradition of the Christmas card. I scramble to find a picture (or, through sweat and tears, get one taken) and then I mail them across the country, not without the hope that one will be returned to me. I still get great joy in finding a little something in my mailbox snuggled between stacks of bills.
Here is what mine looked like this year.
I love my family. We are unique and different and created in a special way.
So when I saw Mitt Romney’s family picture, I thought, Oh look. another person choosing to create a family in their own way. Look carefully, Mitt is holding his grandson whom happens to be African-American.
But that wasn’t how MSNBC seemed to see it. Here is a recap of the conversation.
An MSNBC panel had a laugh Sunday over former Gov. Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandson, Kieran Romney, saying that a recent family photo of the Romneys is somehow symbolic of the Republican Party’s “diversity” issues.
Immediately after seeing the photo, guest and actress Pia Glenn said in a singsong voice, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn’t the same.”
Harris-Perry and her guests, including radio host Jamie Kilstein, The Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah and comedian Judy Gold, found Glenn’s joke irresistibly funny.
“And isn’t he the most gorgeous? My goal is that in 2040, the biggest thing of the year will be the wedding between Kieran Romney and North West,” Harris-Perry said, referring to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s baby daughter. “Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?”
“I think this picture is great,” Obeidallah added. “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.”
Well, nothing like kicking in the new year being totally offended. The insensitivity of it is painful.
There is no way for any of those guests on MSNBC to understand the reasons behind Mitt’s son Ben and daughter in law to adopt a child. Did one of them struggle for years to have one biologically, then after much heartbreak, come to a rewarding and loving decision to be a parent through adoption? Ben has no other children, so maybe. And while Kieran was adopted domestically, would it be different if that baby came from another country? If there was no other person to parent him so Mitt’s son and daughter in law spent thousands and traveled across the world to become parents to a beautiful child that had no one?
I know there are a thousand questions about whether white people (and I acknowledge that those people are REALLY white) can raise a black child. I don’t know. We’re doing our best. I’ll have our son fill you in when he’s 30 about how it’s all worked out. But I will add just two facts here:
1. All birth mothers have the right to choose the adoptive parent for their baby, and nearly 98% do. Around 67% of all adoptions today are in some way an open adoption, meaning that child will have contact with the birth family. What if there is a birth mother out there that has also seen that picture, and she was the one that CHOSE for her child to be raised in that family? I can not imagine what it took to place her child up for adoption. Shame on you MSNBC for even opening the door to any doubts and questions she may be carrying just because you have an issue with Republicans.
2. In the case of international adoption, I speak from experience. No child deserves to live in some of the conditions overseas. So until all children can be matched with parents of the same identical ethnic background as their own, then I’m standing firm on my opinion of the need for adoptions, regardless of your race.
Becoming a parent should not be a political issue. This is not about being a Democrat or Republican. My children have a set of Republican grandparents, and they love all of my kids because they are children, our children. I can only hope that Mitt feels the same about all of his grandchildren.
In addition, not all offspring are a carbon copy of their parents. Believe it or not, Mitt just might have produced a bleeding heart liberal. Look at how different George W’s daughter Barbara Pierce Bush has turned out. In 2011, she released a video with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, calling on New York State to legalize same-sex marriage. “‘I am Barbara Bush, and I am a New Yorker for marriage equality,’ she says in the brief message, sponsored by an advocacy group. ‘New York is about fairness and equality. And everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love.'” Barbara also has been dating Miky Fabrega from Panama. I’m thinking George W. will be attending that wedding if it ever is to happen, regardless of his feelings on immigration.
Harris-Perry did apologize for her comments. Thank you. But how many other people looked at that picture and thought the same thing?
The media may be able to pinpoint and acknowledge Romney’s “race issues,” as they are so often called. But can Harris-Perry identify hers? Did Mitt’s son Ben have such a desire to be a parent that he did identify his and overcame them for a baby? Can I identify mine? Can you? Because I actually want to. I do not ever desire to make a comment that makes anyone feel uncomfortable about their race, especially those that are growing up in a home where not a lot of people look just like them. I dare say those kids need even a little more sensitivity.
I am muddling through this thing called parenthood. Please tell me I am not the only one. Having kids with different ethnic backgrounds does add a little more thought, concern, care. My African and Chinese children know they look different. We talk about it. We’re not hiding anything here.
But when you get my Christmas card I will thank you kindly to not sing “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn’t the same.”