Half a dozen years ago, Mr. A and I were in the adoption agency office looking at brochures.
Not for babies. You don’t have to sell people who are thinking about adoption on babies. Small, squirmy, sticky-out-tongue babies who rustle and snuzzle at your shoulder and snorfle into your ear? You don’t need to pitch those to people. No, we were looking at brochures for parents.
One couple had written a letter to their prospective birth mother explaining all the advantages their child would have: A love for music, for art, a house full of books and laughter. Another made full-color picture pages, designed like a children’s book, showing the two women swinging on swings at the park, playing with a golden retriever in a large yard, pulling nephews in a sled through the snow. Look, see how your baby will live. All these materials were designed to make a biological parent comfortable with an adoptive one, comfortable enough to hand an infant over.
Because the agency often facilitated interracial adoption, the counselor suggested that when Mr. A and I made our brochure, we make it clear we lived and worked in diverse environments. At the time I had an African-American boss and another from Jamaica, colleagues and contacts from everywhere. Our beloved neighbors, a second family to us both, interracial marriages and relationships in both our families, these could help convince a black woman two white people from Wisconsin should raise her child.
(Two white people from Wisconsin is what I think of whenever somebody in front of me at Starbucks orders a “double flat white.”)
The intent was all outward, from the agency’s perspective. You just want a baby. The baby’s birth mother and father want to choose you. I was too selfishly wrapped up in my desire for a baby to consider what kind of baby we should want. Kind of baby? The BABY kind of baby, the one who sucks on his fingers or kicks her tiny feet. We didn’t go through with adoption, not because we didn’t want to but because our biological long shot won.
Still, I thought of that agency, of those brochures, when Steve King flapped his stupid face again: Somebody else’s babies. Not only has he not apologized, not only has he made it worse, but over the weekend his Republican colleagues — who let’s be fair were fine with every other racist thing he says — made their unofficial shrugs official:
At a town hall meeting in their home state on Friday, Ernst said she would not ask for King to step down, despite calls by many in the audience for her to do so, according to the report.
“I do not ask for [his resignation], I will not ask for that, I do not condone his language. But his voters will make that determination,” she said, according to Politico. “We don’t condone that language, we try to speak respectfully. We all need to act with a level of respect.”
Yeah! We need to act with a level of respect when we are suppressing the voting rights of minority communities and taking away social programs that might help minority kids and undercutting public education in majority-minority cities! We need to SAY nice things while we’re doing all that. We can’t give the GAME AWAY. We can’t just say it outright: Somebody else’s babies.
Good Christ. Like babies have owners, instead of parents. Like they know where they belong and should stay there. Like everyone isn’t somebody else’s baby.