1. Yes, sometimes I think we’re better than you because we adopted. Hey, as long as I confess it, you can’t get mad at me, right? Listen: I know it’s not true, and I almost always remember that. Really. Yes, I think more couples (and Jesus-followers, I’m looking right at you) need to be adopting. Yes, I think if you’re outspokenly pro-life but haven’t at least considered adoption, you need to stop talking now. But there is nothing special or superior about us because we adopted. There are lots of ways to build families, and lots of ways to love the orphans of this world. Adoption is one of them, but far from the only one. And I really do know that.
2. There have been times when I’ve carried my brown child as a badge of my cultural awareness. I did this a lot early on. It wasn’t on purpose, but I was definitely aware of it. It was validating to be seen with my Latino child. Having her on my hip told any room I walked into I am all kinds of cultured and progressive, in the same way that wearing Toms projects the image you give a shit about poor people (the image, mind you). It was understandable, but not okay. She wasn’t a badge of anything besides my parenthood.
3. I have my own set of stereotypes. On any given day I can be guilty of assuming one or more of the following things: people who fit the description of white trash are less intelligent than I am; very politically conservative people are uncaring; religious conservatives are closeminded; men in authority are assholes; kids with giant racing spoilers on the backs of their Honda Civics are idiots. Okay, that last one is actually true, so it’s a bad example. But you get the point. I assume things about people I’ve never actually met, and it affects my perceptions of them, and I think that’s called prejudice. I need to work on it.
4. I don’t know nearly enough about my daughter’s birth culture. Oh, I know a fair bit, don’t get me wrong. I’m nothing if not a reader, and I’ve read a lot on Guatemalan politics and twentieth century history and ancient mayan history and culture. I’ve read the Popol Vuh and I, Rigoberta Menchu, and with a little brush-up I can limp my way through survival Spanish. But I don’t know enough to help my daughter understand what it means to be born into that culture. We’re trying, but we have room to improve.
5. I say boneheaded things sometimes too. When I was a teen and young adult, retarded was an all-purpose junk word among my group of friends for use in a wide variety of circumstances. A computer that locked up was being retarded, a friend throwing wads of paper at me needed to stop being retarded, and I wished I didn’t have to fill out the retarded tax forms. I was not in any intentional way being derogatory toward people with mental handicaps. It was just a word. Until I said it in front of a mom I care about who has a handicapped child I also care about. I instantly felt about 2 inches tall. It went from being harmless slang to harmful slur in the space of 10 seconds. Lyndie and I set to work cutting it out of our vocabulary immediately. The point is, as progressive and sensitive as I might like to think of myself, I still have blindspots of stupidity. We all do. Let’s show each other grace while we learn, yeah?