I’m a White Republican Raising a Black Child: Deal With It

My husband and I – and consequently, my children – live a little bit in the public eye.  As a writer and memoirist, I’ve chronicled funny and poignant stories from our family’s lives in two books, and as a conservative activist I’ve taken my children to various political events across the Southeast.  In 2006 at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis, a reporter for Newsweek interviewed my son and discovered he was skipping kindergarten for the conference.  “Mitt Romney, however, is pro-education,” I made sure to note. In 2008, my kids heard speeches by all of the GOP Presidential candidates – they were so young then, I had to distract them when the candidates talked about hot button cultural issues like abortion and gay rights.  (We hadn’t had those talks yet.)   Now, four years later, they’re far more aware of the issues and are frequently the only school aged children at these conferences.

(It’s not that I necessarily want my kids to live and breathe politics, rather I simply would prefer to have them with me than with a babysitter.)

The first photo we have of our daughter (taken in her African orphanage) and a photo taken at church on Sunday (she buttons her sweaters herself!)

The first photo we have of our daughter (taken in her orphanage)

This Presidential campaign cycle is very different for our family than the one in 2008.  This time around, we have a four-year-old daughter we adopted from Ethiopia two years ago.  Now that she’s a part of our family, she too has been to political gatherings with a big bag of crayons and coloring books to get her through the speeches.  For example here is her CSPAN debut when my husband won the Ronald Reagan Award at CPAC, here she got to meet Gov. Romney, and she’s attended book signings with the Palins.

Because we’ve had the audacity to appear in public with our family, we’ve been getting hate mail from liberals who are deeply offended that a white family would raise a black child (the Huffington Post posted a video of Naomi and me at CPAC and it generated more than 1,000 comments, many of them utterly vile). Usually, I laugh at baseless criticism and it inspires me to work even harder at artfully annoying my critics.  But when I get accused of actually harming my daughter by daring to raise her, it infuriates me.  See, for example, an excerpt from tonight’s Facebook message:

“I feel so sorry for your little girl! She has a hard complex life ahead of her! She should not be raised by people who vote against her best interests.”

(It was longer and much more offensive.)

What is that, dear reader?  You don’t understand how my family traveling to a poverty stricken African tribal area to take a starving, abandoned girl into our American family and loving her as fiercely and deeply as we love our biological children could be considered a bad thing?  Well, see, you don’t realize that my family is….  how can I put this politely….  Republican.  We are white conservatives, and the little girl we got from Africa is black.  While most won’t come out and say they wish we’d left her in Africa to starve rather than be exposed to conservatism, I’m not sure what other conclusion to draw.

She now has two parents, a brother, and even a sister!

As Christians, we believe we should take care of orphans, to give fathers to the fatherless.  We didn’t adopt to save the world, or to politically clone ourselves, or to annoy Democrats.  We did it because children need loving parents, a warm bed, and good food (and, yes, a Happy Meal counts).  We did it because as a two-year-old she weighed only 14 pounds.  (Of course, as is frequently the case with adoption, we got her thinking we were preserving her life, we soon discovered that we’re the ones who are blessed by her presence.)

Are my husband and I Republicans?  Yes.  And we also love our little black child.  I’m learning, for example, how to braid hair with colorful beads, I’m learning which colors look good against her chocolate colored skin tone, and I’ll teach her about her country of origin right after she learns her ABCs.

But to all of you liberals who are concerned I’m going to indoctrinate our children with conservative ideas?  Rest assured I’m doing everything within my power to make sure all three of our kids grow up in the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

You can’t limit or dictate her political options or her cultural values just because of her skin color, and your constant criticism shows that you are less concerned about the truly poor and more concerned about propagating your narrow and destructive  identity politics.

So, yes, I’m a white Christian conservative Republican raising a black child whom I love with my whole heart.

Deal with it.

UPDATE:  David’s been reading my article, the comments, and the other online discussions it’s spawned and has weighed in with his own thoughts.  Check out

Race, Politics, and Adoption — Following Up.

A Poignant Moment for Me

The Joy of Pretty Things

A Military Wife’s Letter to her Local Church

 

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About Nancy French

Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.

  • Teacher needs a raise

    My husband and I, and many other conservatives we know, have embraced fostering children. We have a black son, who is now an amazing young adult. One of our conservative friends just adopted their almost 2 year old son they have been fostering since his birth, and they are white, and their adopted son is black. These children need homes just as much as any other children. The fact that there are black Americans complaining…well, my response is, “how many children have you fostered or adopted?” We don’t discriminate as the press likes to portray. We are the abolitionist party. We don’t believe in racism. We believed in the Civil Rights act that democrats opposed. We hated the KKK that the democratic party created. The press has it all wrong. We are the peaceful, the party of MLK, and we take care of our nations children, blind to anything but unconditional love. More should try it!

  • Teacher needs a raise

    Robert, you make very little sense. I’m from a white democratic racist family (parents) from the south. Their lack of tolerance is what drove me to register republican at the tender age of 18 in 1986. I believed in Civil Rights, unlike most in the south in the 80’s, and I despised the democratic KKK that terrorized families. I haven’t lived there in many years, but it was pretty segregated, for an unsegregated society, at that time. Over time, thankfully, the democratic party changed and became less racist. The Republican party didn’t change and all the sudden become racists. My state is full of black republicans, and many hold political offices. Every county in my state voted republican in the last several elections. Our state is historically republican and it was going to be the first “black” state of the nation at one time, but Congress didn’t pass it. My husband and I are white, and we have several black and mixed children, by choice. We also have biological children. We are not rich. We knew there were children in our community needing stable homes and we chose to share our home with them. It had nothing to do with skin color, it was because they were children that needed a loving home. By the way, how many children to do you foster or have you adopted? I’m just curious. You really don’t need to answer that question, you are probably too racist to raise a child that isn’t like you anyway. Some of us are part of the solution to attempting to make a dent in the homeless population of children. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Then you make things worse by criticizing those that are making a difference. I guess you cannot dig deep enough to thank us for doing something you don’t have the guts to do yourself.

  • Teacher needs a raise

    Just curious, how many children have you fostered or adopted? I have fostered and adopted. I don’t know anyone that makes mean jokes about my husband and I fostering homeless children. Most people tell us how proud they are of us for having the guts to do something like taking in homeless teens of various races and awful backgrounds because they don’t have guts or patience to deal with the baggage they come with. We are considered pillars in our community. We have had every color of skin live within our walls and it makes no difference to this conservative, white, republican family. We want to help, we have love to give, and this is one way we can do it while helping to decrease the homeless child population in our community. You are part of the problem. You try to intimidate those who are doing good by saying “but you are racist” because you cannot come up with a single, logical reason for supporting anything positive that a white, conservative republican might be doing to make the world a better place for a homeless child, especially a child of color. You are racist. You are judgmental. You are the pot calling the kettle black. Read what you wrote. When you are finished, go down to your local department of human services and see what you can do about fostering a homeless kid. Until then, you are part of the problem.

  • Teacher needs a raise

    Our adult biological son teases us about getting an Asian kid because we have had every race under our roof except Asian! Our community doesn’t have an Asian population, but if it did, we would welcome them into our home as well. We have fostered and adopted children of many races, mixed races, but mostly African American because of the make up of our community. All of the children have been pre-teen to teenage, mostly boys, and have had a lot of baggage, but we just have them bring it in so we can help them sort it out! Our family is a rainbow and we love it. Our grown children love that we continue to open our home to children in need, and we don’t take skin color into consideration, ever! The black community does not have a problem with us fostering black children either. The white and balck community tells us that they wish they had the patience to do what we do. We have been truly blessed by adoption and fostering and I’m so thankful that you posted! I wish more people would open their homes to children who so desperately need it! I’m also thankful to live in a community where they appreciate our efforts to decrease the homeless child population. Someone has to do it, and I’m glad you are part of the solution!

  • Teacher needs a raise

    Nancy French, when criticism raises it’s ugly head, ask those who criticize, what are they doing for the homeless children? Are they fostering or adopting homeless children out of orphanages? I have a special perspective. I love my children. All of them. Like you, I am an adoptive parent and a current foster parent, hoping to adopt the 16 year old we have had in our home for a year. His parents have nothing to do with him and are thrilled that he is our “problem” now. The truth is, he’s not a problem at all. We adore him, like the 20 that came before him. All teens, all different racial make up, all homeless and abandoned. We take in teenage boys of all races and in our community, we are admired for our commitment to children by our white, black and interracial population. We are white conservatives and we are not condemned, but praised. I know a lot of people with spare bedrooms, or guest rooms, that would fill a need and remove a homeless child from a shelter, but they don’t want to upset their lifestyles by having to make an adjustment for a homeless child. Pretty pathetic if you ask me. We should be the norm. We should not be the exception.

  • Jeanie Brookes

    I love this article. My daughter adopted a black child whose mother originally wanted to abort her but changed her mind, and I love her to death. She is one of the sweetest little girls I have ever known. I join you. I am a white Republican and I love my granddaughter more than you can imagine!! Deal with it.

  • Al_Capone

    oh neil

  • d katoola

    your baby is beautiful i am very happy for you and your family she is truly adorable. I don’t doubt the love she will have in your family. I cant stand republicans i view them as retards not coping with a changing world. On the other hand i like a strong woman who believes in something. I think you will be a great mom and give your daughter an empowered, positive view on life and a solid voice, even if its a voice that i personally can’t stand. It will be a life she would never have had without the help of you and your husband. I will pray she rebels against your views with the education you provide and becomes the first female black democrat president of the United States.

  • d katoola

    I don’t think you understand how adoption works. She didn’t buy the child or steal it from a birth mother. When me and my wife were pursuing adoption were couldn’t believe the situation these kids were put in, it is simply heart breaking. In many countries simply having a female born is a mistake and a problem. I would bet my mortgage that when this young girl grows up she is not going to confront her adopted white mom and say “hey i wish you didn’t pop that white savior complex on me” and instead be extremely grateful of the opportunities she has. If she wants to track down her biological then that is her god given right, but she will view nancy french forever as her mother. You just don’t liker her politics. I dont care for republicans either. But your comments are meant to wound and are hateful, and as they stand in this situation, simply untrue.


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