I really like Sandra Bullock and I’m really glad she dumped that jerk-off husband of hers and I was really happy for her when she snatched happiness from the jaws of humiliation by adopting a little boy but I don’t know how I feel about this picture.
Today at a playground in one of Wisconsin’s small, picturesque towns, I watched an African American toddler gallop across the turf to climb on a slide, a nice white lady in hot pursuit.
Then I saw two black kids on the swings with a white guy pushing them and I immediately go on ‘adoptive mom alert’.
They’ve got to be adopted, I decide. Right away, I figure they’re ‘foster to adopt’ kids and start wondering if they came one by one or as a bunch.
My first instinct is to hug the mom. Tell her I love her for being an adoptive mom. Let her know I’m a sister. But the white lady, she is seriously into the “who me, what’s unusual about me and my children? pose which I only recognize because I used to strike the same ‘cool pose’ when my Hispanic kids were little and people would look at my pale skin and strawberry blond hair and wonder WTF? So I do what I know she wants and I pretend not to notice that her little boy is African American and she’s not. Oh. Ho-hum.
Then my second instinct is to wonder about the kids’ story and my brain started racing around the track of do they know their parents? where are their parents? was it right to take them from their parents? what about their other relatives? where are they? And the kicker of a question: is this a good thing?
These are questions that I never had to ask about my own children because they were all straight up abandoned in an orphanage with no options for a family whatsoever. In other words, we might not have been ideal (as in Nicaraguan like them), but we beat orphanage living hands down. This is an optimum position as an adoptive parent — when your children’s only other option was a sea of cribs, Unicef dried milk, and used toys from America.
Then my third instinct starts up — the rumination about culture. And then I want to sit the white mom down and say, “Girl, the fact that these kids are African American doesn’t matter to you and it never will. And right now it doesn’t matter to them either. They’ve got a family and they’re happy. Anyone can see that. But it will matter. It will matter big time to them. And they might not say anything, they won’t want to hurt your feelings. They will take a huge amount of crap from the outside world and they’ll probably try to protect you from it. They’ll let you live in your toddler happiness. And you probably won’t even know they’re doing it.”
As if it would make any difference. It’s a Twilight Zone kind of experience – me seeing these African American kids with the white parents. Seeing their euphoria. Hearing the five-year old girl yell out “Mommy” from the monkey bars. Knowing that all the people in that family are in a place they believe God created for them because they were lucky or special or smart. I was there once. I don’t usually know how other people are feeling but I can describe how they were feeling down to the last letter. Blessed.
I get it. I really do.