August 17, 2019

Saturday Link Love is a feature where I collect and post links to various articles I’ve come upon over the past week. Feel free to share any interesting articles you’ve come along as well! The more the merrier!

Jeffrey Epstein’s Death, in Context, on the Atlantic—“Here, to help you evaluate that claim, are 32 short stories about in-custody deaths or near-deaths in America.”

One is Chinese. One is American. How a journalist discovered and reunited identical twins, on the Los Angeles Times—“Marsha was horrified that the baby she thought she’d rescued had in fact been stolen, and she was concerned about how her daughters, grieving their father’s death, would react.”

New York Times: Where Are The Responsible, Moderate White Supremacists? on Wonkette—“Maybe there are some in the white supremacist community who deplore violence — they’re probably the very fine people who love them some Confederate statues but were shocked, shocked to find themselves at a march organized by Nazis.”

She was an American child bride. Now, Genevieve is fighting to stop it from happening to others, on NBC News—“Forced into marriage at 15, Genevieve Meyer’s story is not uncommon in the U.S., thanks to loopholes in state and federal laws.”

An American With No Medical Training Ran Center For Malnourished Ugandan Kids. 105 Died, on NPR—“How could a young American with no medical training even contemplate caring for critically ill children in a foreign country?”

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February 2, 2019

Saturday Link Love is a feature where I collect and post links to various articles I’ve come upon over the past week. Feel free to share any interesting articles you’ve come along as well! The more the merrier!

It’s OK to Question White Evangelicals Adopting Black Kids, on Dame—“Jenni White reminds us of those white parents in transracial adoptions who want to erase their children’s blackness.”

Why Nazis Are Now Super into NASA, on Skepchick—“Oh! So, they didn’t just research some names and then pick one. They let random people submit names. On the Internet. The Internet, which is currently flooded with Nazis.”

How Popular Is Donald Trump? on FiveThirtyEight—“An updating calculation of the president’s approval rating, accounting for each poll’s quality, recency, sample size and partisan lean.”

Interview with a Woman Who Recently Had an Abortion at 32 Weeks, on Jezebel—“I have really good insurance right now, so I do have the hope they’ll reimburse for something. Because here’s one thing you should know. If you get the entire procedure done at the clinic at this late date, it’s $25,000. Cash.”

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December 19, 2015

Saturday Link Love is a new feature where I collect and post links to various articles I’ve come upon over the past week. Feel free to share any interesting articles you’ve come along as well! The more the merrier.

Child Advocacy

The Trouble with American Views of Female Genital Cutting, by Sociological Images

Statement Regarding Adrian Jones, by the Coalition for Responsible Home Education

Jonathan and Alison Schumm Abuse Case Raises Questions, by Homeschoolers Anonymous

Politics & Activism

There Is Space for Quiet Activism, by Skepchick

U.S. Supreme Court: Alabama Must Recognize Lesbian Adoption—for Now, by RH Reality Check

Fact-Checking the Fifth Round of GOP Debates, by the Washington Post

Reproductive Justice

Tennessee Woman Charged with Murder after Failed Self-Induced Abortion, by RH Reality Check

Surviving a Coat-Hanger Abortion Doesn’t Get You Sympathy, It Gets You Arrested, by Dr. Jen Gunter

Women with Access to Abortion Have More Positive Outlook on Life, by RH Reality Check

The Year of Uterus Versus Them, by Texas Observer

April 16, 2013

Remember that little Lydia Schatz, disciplined to death by her parents, was adopted from Liberia? Well, this wasn’t an abnormality. It was actually kind of a thing in quiverfull homeschooling families. I knew this as a kid because I noticed the trend in quiverfull publication Above Rubies magazine, which my family began subscribing to sometime in the 1990s. Throughout the early and mid 2000s, this magazine was peppered with images of families like the one shown above, this one a photo of Above Rubies founder Nancy Campbell’s daughter Serene’s family. Serene and her husband adopted a total of six Liberian orphans, three of them in their teens at the time of adoption, and large numbers of quiverfull families followed suit on Nancy Campbell’s urging. Many of these families graced the cover of Above Rubies, and also, given the overlap in readership, the cover of the Pearls’ No Greater Joy magazine.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that we’re now hearing just what became of those children—and that it’s not pretty. Lydia Schatz’ death at the hands of her adoptive parents may have been extreme, but it appears that abuse and failed adoptions were common among the quiverfull families who snapped up literally hundreds of Liberian orphans at Nancy Campbell’s urging. This is the revelation of Kathryn Joyce, who published an article yesterday in Mother Jones, an excerpt of what is to come in her forthcoming book on the topic.

I might have been more surprised at what I read in Joyce’s article had I not already read the hundreds of stories posted on a site called Pound Pup Legacy. This Pound Pup Legacy link—which you shouldn’t read unless you have a firm stomach—details story after story of children abused in their adoptive homeschooling families. They were beaten with electrical wire, locked in cages, forced to sleep outside without blankets, and deprived of food—and much, much more. When I came upon this link a month ago, I had to take numerous breaks and in the end never finished reading through all of the stories. I just couldn’t. I had, before this, thought that the stories of Lydia Schatz and Hana Williams, who was adopted from Ethiopia before dying of exposure after being locked outside of her adoptive family’s house in November as punishment for disobedience, were anomalies. When I came upon that terrible, terrible link, I learned that this was not the case.

But when I read Joyce’s article, what really hit me was that these were the people whose sunny stories covered the pages of Above Rubies magazine, the stuff of my childhood. I poured over Above Rubies magazine as a teen, drinking it up. It was all there—large homeschooling families, happy homemakers, a back-to-basics homesteading lifestyle. It was so idyllic, when I read it, so picture perfect. And now, with this one article, that perfection is dashed. It turns out that when you combine the adoption of children from a war-torn foreign country in order to evangelize them, on the one hand, with extremely strict ideas about discipline and submission to parents, on the other, the potential for disaster is enormous. And now I feel like I have to go back and go over each of those memories again, taking this new knowledge into account.

Here is an excerpt from Joyce’s article, which you should read in full:

IN 2005, SAM ALLISON, a Tennessee housepainter in his 30s, arrived at Daniel Hoover Children’s Village, an orphanage outside Monrovia, Liberia. He’d come to adopt three children, but ended up with four: five-year-old Cherish; her nine-year-old brother, Isaiah; their 13-year-old sister, CeCe, who had taken care of them for years; and Engedi, a sickly infant whom Sam and an adoption broker had retrieved from “deep in the bush.” The older children’s father had sent them to Daniel Hoover during Liberia’s 14-year civil war, after their mother died in childbirth. The orphanage, run by a ministry called African Christians Fellowship International, often ran short of food, and schooling was sporadic. The children, who were forced to flee temporarily when rebels attacked the facility in 2003, referred to America—whose image looms large in a country colonized by freed slaves in the 19th century—as “heaven.”

In Tennessee, Sam and the four adoptees joined his wife, Serene—a willowy brunette who’d attempted a career in Christian music—and their four biological children. Together they moved into a log cabin in Primm Springs, a rural hamlet outside Nashville. Serene welcomed the children with familiar foods such as rice, stew, and sardines, and they were photographed smiling and laughing.

The cabin adjoined a family compound shared by Serene’s parents, Colin and Nancy Campbell, and the families of Serene’s two sisters. Colin is the pastor of a small church and Nancy a Christian leader with a large following among home-schoolers. Her 35-year-old magazine, Above Rubies, which focuses on Christian wifehood, has a circulation of 130,000 in more than 100 countries—mostly fundamentalist Christian women who eschew contraception and adhere to rigid gender roles. The aesthetic is somewhere between Plain People austerity and back-to-the-land granola, with articles like “Plastic or Natural?,” “Raising Missionaries,” and “Green to Go,” featuring recipes for concoctions like “green transfusion” and “My personal earth milk.” In a Facebook photo, Nancy twirls in a tie-dyed peasant skirt. Her daughters, striking women with waist-length hair, use Nancy’s magazine to peddle motherhood-themed CDs and health and lifestyle books with titles such as Trim Healthy Mama. It’s an extended family that thousands of home-schooling mothers know nearly as well as their own.

In 2005, Above Rubies began advocating adoptions from Liberia, arranged through private Christian ministries. Campbell—whose magazine likened adoption to “missions under our very own roof!”*—spent a week visiting Liberian orphanages and returned with “piles of letters addressed ‘To any Mom and Dad.'” She touted the country’s cost-effectiveness—”one of the cheapest international adoptions”—and claimed that 1 million infants were dying every year in this nation of fewer than 4 million people. “When we welcome a child into our heart and into our home,” she wrote, “we actually welcome Jesus Himself.”

Campbell urged readers to contact three Christian groups—Acres of Hope, Children Concerned, and West African Children Support Network (WACSN)—that could arrange adoptions from Liberian orphanages. At the time, none of these groups was accredited in the United States as an adoption agency, yet they all placed Liberian children with American families for a fraction of the $20,000 to $35,000 that international adoptions typically cost. Before long, members of a Yahoo forum frequented by Above Rubies readers were writing that God had laid the plight of Liberian orphans heavy on their heart. “Families lined up by the droves,” one mother recalled. They “were going to Liberia and literally saying, ‘This is how much I have, give me as many as you can.'”

The magazine’s Liberia campaign, it turned out, heralded an “orphan theology” movement that has taken hold among mainstream evangelical churches, whose flocks are urged to adopt as an extension of pro-life beliefs, a way to address global poverty, and a means of spreading the Gospel in their homes. The movement’s leaders, as I discovered while researching my upcoming book on the topic, portray adoption as physical and spiritual salvation for orphans and a way for Christians to emulate God, who, after all, “adopted” humankind. Churches reported that the spirit was proving contagious; families encouraged one another to adopt, and some congregations were taking in as many as 100 children. Dozens of conferences, ministries, and religious coalitions sprang up to further the cause, and large evangelical adoption agencies such as Bethany Christian Services reported a sharp increasein placements at a time when international adoptions were in decline.

Within months of launching her Liberia campaign, Campbell reported to her readers that 70 children were in the process of being adopted through African Christians Fellowship International, most to families that were already large, with some taking as many as five or six. She recalled helping one adoptive father navigate Washington, DC’s Dulles airport with his new Liberian triplets; she put one of them, a wide-eyed infant named Grace, with bow lips and a Peter Pan collar, on the cover of the magazine. Campbell adopted four children herself, and Serene took a total of six. “From my article in Above Rubies about the children in Liberia there must have been up to a thousand children adopted,” Campbell informed me in an email, “and most have been a blessing.”

FOR PATTY ANGLIN, the cofounder of Acres of Hope, one of the groups promoted by Above Rubies, the campaign’s impact and Campbell’s characterization of the adoptions as “cheap, easy and fast” proved jarring. “So many people responded, and they were responding at an alarming rate,” she recalled.

In part, Anglin was worried because she knew how complicated things could get in Liberia, a nation that had only recently emerged from its civil war and was still in a state of near lawlessness. Given the conditions there, the prospect of a $6,000 adoption fee was enough to attract some shady operators. Adoptions that took a year to process in other countries could happen in weeks or days in Liberia, and bribery was rampant. Liberian parents began complaining that adoption had been misrepresented to them as some sort of temporary education arrangement—one local orphanage staffer proclaimed that his own children had been adopted and were now “benefiting from the program,” according to WACSN, one of the agencies Campbell promoted, would eventually host a contingent of American preachers for a three-day revival in Monrovia. The organizers urged believers back home to get involved by adopting through WACSN, which had declared that it would only serve biblical literalists. The struggling Liberian government was able neither to keep tabs on children leaving the country nor to distinguish licensed adoption agencies from groups that merely had nonprofit status.

All was not harmonious in Primm Springs either, according to the four Allison adoptees I interviewed at length for this story. (Sam Allison has denied all of their allegations.) “Everything was good for a month,” CeCe, now 21, told me. “We got to the next month and things started to get a little weird.” Serene’s raw-food offerings were unfamiliar, but Sam would discipline them if they balked at eating her meals, the children said. Other cultural impasses included the children’s use of Liberian English and the Liberian prohibition on children looking adults in the eye. “They’d say, ‘You are so rude. I’m talking to you!'” CeCe recalled. “They expected us to adapt in a heartbeat.”

In October 2006, a year after their first Liberian adoptions, the Allisons adopted another pair of siblings: Kula, 13, and Alfred, 15. “In Africa we thought America was heaven,” recalled Kula, who is 19 now. “I thought there were money trees.” Primm Springs was a rude awakening: It was dirty, she recalled, and she had no toothbrush. The new house Sam was building—with the older kids working alongside him—often lacked electricity. There was only a woodstove for heat, and no air conditioning or running water yet. Toilets were flushed with buckets of water hauled from a creek behind the house. The children recalled being so hungry that they would, on occasion, cook a wild goose or turkey they caught on the land. “We went from Africa to Africa,” CeCe said.

They didn’t attend school, either; home schooling mostly consisted of Serene reading to the younger children. When the older kids watched a school bus drive past on a country road and asked why they couldn’t go, they were met with various excuses. So Isaiah and Alfred worked with Sam in his house-painting business or labored in Nancy Campbell’s immense vegetable garden while CeCe, Kula, and Cherish cleaned, cooked, and tended to a growing brood of young ones. It was also the job of the “African kids,” as they called themselves, to keep a reservoir filled with water from the creek. CeCe hadn’t yet learned to read when Serene gave her a book on midwifery so she could learn to deliver their future babies. “They treated us pretty much like slaves,” she said. It’s a provocative accusation, but one that Kula and Isaiah—as well as two neighbors and a children’s welfare worker—all repeated.

Discipline included being hit with rubber hosing or something resembling a riding crop if the children disrespected Serene, rejected her meals, or failed to fill the reservoir. For other infractions, they were made to sleep on the porch without blankets. Engedi, the toddler, was disciplined for her attachment to CeCe. To encourage her bond with Serene, the Allisons would place the child on the floor between them and CeCe and call her. If Engedi went to CeCe instead, the children recalled, the Allisons would spank her until she wet herself.

And that’s where I’m going to stop. Do go read the whole thing, if you can stomach it. I have to be honest, that last paragraph there had me in tears. I honestly can’t believe that this was allowed to happen. My heart aches for those children.

November 18, 2020

After writing a recent post, I went looking for a picture of a church worship service to use as a featured image. I typically use one of several online common domain images collections. I had some trouble finding an image that worked because no picture looked anything like what I think of when I think “church” or “worship service.”

I grew up in an evangelical megachurch. Coming from that background, an image like this one absolutely and in no way feels like “church” to me.

I’ll grant that’s a pretty building! It looks peaceful too.

It’s just not what I think of when I think of “church” or “worship service.”

As I scrolled through pictures of drafty sanctuaries and religious iconography, I almost despaired of finding an image that screamed “church.” And then, finally, I came upon an image that felt exactly right:

A moment later, I realized this picture was labeled “live music” and “rock.” I suppose the phone taking a recording does suggest that it’s not a church service—but otherwise, to me, that looks like a church service. 

As a girl, I remember going to relatives’ churches while visiting them, and being struck by how different the music felt. Certainly, hymns sung against simpler accompaniment (or an organ!) have their own power—but this more traditional style of worship service has a very different feel from the rock concert atmosphere of an evangelical megachurch.

There needs to be more written about megachurches’ adoption of rock concert aesthetics. The colored lights, the full band, the casual attire of the musicians, the emotive contemporary music: it’s clearly an intentional and specific—and potent—formula. But why? When did this start? What does it mean that I found a photo of a rock concert more evocative of church than any other photo? Is there a sociologist working on this? If not, there should be!

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November 10, 2020

I am so sick and tired of reading anti-abortion takes by white men—or from anyone, really, but when it comes from a man, and a privileged man to boot, it is just especially appalling. But here’s a thought: if these men, who can never get pregnant themselves, want to force women who are pregnant to carry pregnancies they don’t want to term, they should at least pay them for their trouble.

Consider: because abortion exists, whom who are pregnant and do not want to be pregnant don’t have to be pregnant. It’s not like remaining pregnant is inevitable, or incontrovertible.

I would argue that anyone working to ban abortion has an obligation to compensate women for what they are putting them through. We’re talking about quite a few things:

1. Medical costs. Depending on whether you’re insured and what your insurance looks like, pregnancy and birth can run between $5000 and $50,000.

(Or we could just have universal medical insurance.)

2. Surrogacy payment. If you’re going to force a woman to go through a pregnancy they don’t want, you damn well better at least pay them what a surrogate makes. That’s $40,000 to $60,000. Remember, we’re talking about all of those body changes and permanent stretch marks, as well as the pain of labor.

3. Compensation for lost work. Women who are pregnant have to take time off work to go to doctor appointments; many women have to leave work to go on bed rest. Then there’s the period after birth—many workplaces don’t offer any form of paid sick leave. Also, some women risk getting fired if they get pregnant (it’s not supposed to happen, but it does). So we’re probably talking $5000 to $10,000.

(Or we could just pass mandatory paid maternity leave.)

4. Childcare! This runs, conservatively, $10,000 per year, for five years. That’s $50,000—and again, that’s conservative. Once school starts, there’s before and after school care, which is about $3000 per year, and then there’s care over the summer, which is another $3000. Assuming a child needs this care until they’re around 12, that’s another $40,000. That makes it $90,000.

(Or we could just have government-subsidized childcare.)

5. Food, clothes, shelter. Having a kid likely means you can’t live with a roommate, and need your own place. If you already have kids, it may mean you have to get a bigger place (there are rules that require at least one bedroom per two people, for renters). And that’s outside of food and clothing. Oh, and then there’s healthcare. Egads. Let’s allow 100,000 over 18 years. (That’s only $5000 per year, for food, clothing, and housing, so it’s actually very, very conservative.)

Lest anyone say these last two items don’t count because women can always give a baby up for adoption, that’s a no from me. No one should be made to give a baby up for want of funds, and it is wrong to force a woman to bring a child into the world and then force her to give it up.

What are we up to? $250,000, assuming the woman has health insurance and only needs to be compensated for the deductible and coinsurance, and not the full cost of pregnancy and childbirth.

I have half a mind to start a fake anti-abortion online presence dedicated to the idea that abortion should be prohibited and every woman who has an unwanted pregnancy should be given $250,000 cash, not taxed. The opportunities for trolling abound. One wonders: could a woman denied an abortion sue the government for this amount, arguing that being prevented from having an abortion amounted to a financial taking?

I’m struck by the number of times a better social safety net came up in my accounting: it’s a bizarre reality that abortion opponents tend to be the same people who oppose the very policies that would render it easier for women to bear and raise children. I can imagine a very different political alliance, in which a pro-natalist group argues that abortion should be banned (to ensure more children are born) and government policies should support mothers and children. (I suspect that the reason we don’t see this alliance is race.) 

Now, of course, under any such schema it would quickly prove difficult to tell between wanted and unwanted pregnancies—and some women might get pregnant in order to access this funding (which might be impossible to tell from women choosing to have another baby because they could now afford it). I’m not actually suggesting we implement this any more than I’m suggesting it would be okay to ban abortion and force women to be pregnant—it wouldn’t, and it isn’t.

But those working to ban abortion need to understand what it is they’re doing. They often seem to live in a rosy fantasy world where every person can afford to have a child—a world where pregnancy isn’t a painful, difficult body-altering experience. Truth time: I pee my pants nearly every time I sneeze. Why? Because I had two vaginal deliveries! This is very, very common! But this is part of the reality that gets lost in simplistic right-wing narratives! No woman should ever be forced to undergo a pregnancy she does not want. Period. 

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October 13, 2020

By now, we are all very, very aware that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has seven children, two of whom are adopted from Haiti. Indeed, both Republican politicians and Barrett herself have done everything in their power to make sure that we are all very aware of her children, despite them not being relevant to her judicial decision-making.

I have been profoundly uncomfortable with the extent to which Barrett’s children have been thrust into the spotlight. Growing up in a politically active conservative family, the first of a large number of children, I constantly felt that I was being shown off. Because I was. While this did not particularly bother me—I rather liked the spotlight—it did bother some of my younger siblings.

Children should not be used as a means of furthering a parent’s political views or ambitions. In a similar vein, children should not be paraded around like props. Children should be allowed to be their own separate people, regardless of who their parents are. I believed this about Malia and Sasha; I believe it about Barron; and I believe it about Barrett’s children.

I have been trying to puzzle out why Republicans are so keen on talking about Coney Barrett’s children. In part, I think they are trying to signal Barrett’s underlying conservatism to their base. In part, I think they are trying to advertise to those outside of their base that they really truly believe women can both have children and have careers. None of this comes off well.

I grew up in a world where women’s worth was measured by the number of children she had. When I left that world, it took me a very, very long time to work through my feeling that my worth as a person was measured by my fertility. It is never a good idea to measure a woman’s worth by how many children she has. Also, while Republicans do have more children on average than Democrats, they don’t have that many more children. I’m unsure what this emphasis on Barrett’s fecundity is actually communicating to Republicans who have two children.

Also, Republicans’ emphasis on the fact that Barrett has many, many children and yet somehow also has a high-powered career—can you believe it?!—does not exactly send the woman-power message I think Republicans think it sends. In fact, to me it sends the opposite message. Republicans are All Astonishment that women can balance both children and careers—something the rest of us figured out a long time ago. Like. Really?

I really wish Republicans would focus on Barrett’s record, rather than on the very, very large number of children she has. Honestly? The number of children Barrett has is not all that odd. She has five biological children, which is not uncommon among practicing Catholic families. She also adopted two children, why is why she has seven. This should not be getting that much press. 

I grew up in a much larger family, and when my father ran for political office—which he did—he focused on politics. No one said “wow, look how many kids he has, you should definitely elect him.” That would have been weird. For that matter, did anyone ever focus on how many kids John McCain had? Like Barrett, he had seven. Why are Republicans all talking about this?!

Ugh! Yes, I’m annoyed! Women’s worth is not measured by how many children they have, this isn’t a contest, and kids should be left exist in peace, thank you very much.

Also! We’re talking about the same party that was a-okay with separating children from their parents at the border. Don’t for a moment let them claim they are the pro-children ones here. They are manifestly not. They like children as ornaments to respectable white people, and that’s about it. Consider how they talk about Black moms on welfare. Or immigrant families that take financial assistance like state-subsidized health insurance for their children. 

The Republicans are not the pro-child family. Full stop.

There is one other thing I want to address. I’m somewhat reluctant to say anything about this because I really, truly do think Barrett’s children have the right to exist in peace, outside of the spotlight. But since Republicans have thrust them there, I feel the need to touch on this.

I’ll start by sharing these tweets, which echo what I’ve been feeling:

I am not against white parents ever adopting Black children, but a white person who adopts a Black child has got to do so with utter humility. White parents who adopt Black children should never, ever have a savior complex about it. They didn’t save that child; they took that child away from their people and their culture. It is their responsibility, as they raise that child, to do their utter best to bring that child in contact with friends and role models who look like them.

Many white people have become convinced that they “don’t see race” and that means they’re not racist. This framing is awful. We live in a country founded on white supremacy. Everyone sees race, whether they want to or not. Way too many white parents adopt Black children only to treat them with unconscious (or conscious) bias. Way too many white parents of Black adoptees believe they have rescued the child from the negative effects “Black culture.” This isn’t just about white evangelicals, or white conservatives, although it is that. It also happens all over the place.

When I look at white parents with Black adopted children, I don’t think “oh look, what kind, non-racist white people, rescuing that poor benighted Black child.” (This seems to be the takeaway many conservatives have.) Instead, I think “I hope those parents are doing what they can to ensure that that child has positive connections to their culture and their people.”

Look, it doesn’t matter whether white parents see an adopted Black child as just another one of their children. That child will grow up to be Black in America. Black adults who were raised by white parents don’t have signs over their heads informing police not to mistreat them. Raising a Black child outside of their culture, in America, is cruel, and it is dangerous.

Now, I don’t know anything about how Barrett is approaching raising Black children, as a white mother. Maybe she understands all of this and is taking steps to ensure that her Black children have access to friends, mentors, and role models who look like them, and to positive portrayals of their culture and history. I certainly don’t think we should ask either of Barrett’s Black children what they think about how they are being raised. That would be wrong, and unfair.

I will say, however, that Barrett’s opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee does nothing to allay my concerns about the challenges Black adoptees raised by white parents face. With the exception of her youngest, who has Down syndrome, Barrett describes her white children as academically inclined: they want to pursue a career in law, love the liberal arts, have a math gene, are smart, and dream of becoming an author. In contrast, Barrett describes her two Black children as being athletically inclined, talkative, and happy-go-lucky.

I truly hope that this was an oversight on Barrett’s part, and it’s possible that it is. All of Barrett’s children are enrolled in a private Christian school where they, I would hope, have similar access to academics. (Although, of course, parental input does shake children’s perceived abilities.) If nothing else, Barrett’s ill-thought-out words are a reminder of the many pitfalls white parents who adopt Black children need to work to avoid. I firmly believe these pitfalls can be avoided (or mitigated); avoiding them starts with being aware of them, and with one’s own biases.

I wish every single one of Barrett’s children well. I hope that they are able to continue the process of growing up outside of the spotlight; I hope that they are able to continue being kids. Growing up is hard enough without being thrust into the spotlight by Republicans who see you as some sort of prop, or as a card to be played. Kids need to be allowed to just be kids. 

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