The election of Donald Trump to the presidency triggered a stunned reaction from the nation ― or at least from the half of the nation who voted for Hillary Clinton. Panic was felt the strongest among women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, blacks and a small niche group of which I am a proud member: those with children adopted from other countries. In my case, China.
Why am I terrified? Because Trump’s candidacy unleashed the haters, the bigots, the sexists, the racists, and the people who think it’s perfectly OK to treat my Asian children as “others” in their country and tell them they don’t “belong here.” No, not every Trump supporter feels this way. But enough do that they’ve struck fear and loathing in my heart and in the hearts of many adoptive families.
Have you any idea how many times I’ve been asked ― in front of my kids no less ― why didn’t I adopt an American child instead? Adoptive parents whose children don’t look like them hear that little gem all the time. There is, of course, no logic to a total stranger caring about my reasons for choosing China. No, this question is just a veiled judgment that suggests I’m somehow insufficiently patriotic because I adopted from another country. The insidious message behind this question is that “American” children are somehow better or that I have some kind of obligation to “take care of problems at home” first. You know, Make America Great Again. To these people, let me just say: A child is a child is a child. They all need a family. And if you think adopting from the United States is so important, why haven’t you done so?
Our children are immigrants, at least that’s how inter-country adoptive parents think you see them. And that makes us afraid.
One adult adoptee posted this caution to Facebook yesterday:
We asked the international adoption community on Facebook what they were thinking on Wednesday morning, and here are a few of the responses.
Amy Cubbage, an adoptive mom and attorney, said she was struggling, as is her daughter ― who was so upset that she stayed home from school.
“I don’t know when (or if) she will get over this. It breaks my heart that 50 percent of the American public voted for an avowed racist and misogynist with Neo-Nazi ties. It’s a reality of our country, and has been for some time, but it’s not a reality I as a white person had to come to grips with until now,” Cubbage said. “I am unsure how to move forward or to make my child feel safe. I sincerely believe she is not safe― hate for persons of color and immigrants is now the norm and validated at all levels of our government, all the way to the top.”
Hayley K. Hoppe said that her two Chinese daughters have “heard how this monster talks about women, about sexual assault, about ‘taking what he wants because he is famous,’ how he has ridiculed people of color, people with disabilities, the list goes on. They are strong girls ... [but] they are shaken.” One of Hoppe’s daughters has a birth defect. “If the ACA is repealed, we lose health insurance coverage.”
Maureen Fay Topper’s 12-year-old Chinese-American daughter “asked if we could move to Canada.” Topper herself says she is “wracked with guilt that we brought her here as a baby thinking we were bringing her home to the greatest, most free, most hopeful country on Earth. And now we are wondering what the future holds for an immigrant child of color in the United States.”
Jennie Drage Bowser wrote, “A kid in my daughter’s class has been telling her for weeks that Trump is going to send her back to China. My daughter has developmental disabilities and extreme anxiety. When she’s triggered she becomes physically and verbally aggressive, so I’m really stressed about her getting through today, much less the next four years. I coached her to say “Check your facts. I’m an American and no president can do that.”
Donna Bradley said that she was “grieving” with her two Chinese daughters and her transgender adult daughter. “I am frightened. But they give me hope. I keep telling them that love will come through. It always does. And we will pick ourselves up and get ready to continue the good fight.”
Tracey Thoen Hornung sent her 20-year-old an email and “told her that now that the Kraken has been released she may well get comments about her ethnicity and her right to be here.” Hornung added, “She just needs to be ready.”
Adoptive dad Tim Green from Skokie, Illinois, said this is what he texted to his “politically active and extremely upset college-age daughter Nina” this morning:
“The way to respond is to get to work. You continue to fight for the causes you believe in. You keep battling for the underdog and the people who need help. You start now to create change in two years and then in four years. You make life in America, in your state, in your town and in your neighborhood a little bit better any way you can.”
Phil Rhodes, a lawyer, has three children from China who are 9, 7, and 5. One has spina bifida, and one has amniotic banding syndrome resulting in only approximately five fingers and a couple of toes. He says Trump was not even among his top three preferences for a Republican presidential candidate. “But, we voted for him because he supported policies that we support,” said Rhodes. “We’ll tell our kids that democracy still works, that despite the media and the establishment, the people still choose who governs. As Americans, we should protect that right more than any other.”
And, he added, “We’ll also tell them to be kind and gracious to others above all else. We’ll tell them to stick up for the victim, befriend the friendless, and respect others. These are the same principles we’ve taught in our home consistently since we adopted our first in 2009. We’ll tell them, most of all, that your world is what YOU make it. No one else can or should tell you what can or can’t do.”
As for me, my children became United States citizens when their planes from China touched down on U.S. soil. The older one voted for the first time this week and is saddened by the outcome. She texted this morning saying nobody but nobody gets to push her around. And we both remembered how she responded when she was in second or third grade and a habitually mean girl stole the “special from China” ID tag off her violin case and dumped it in the cafeteria trash can. Both girls were sent to the principal’s office, where my baby girl hugged her bully and asked “Why does it make you feel good to try and make me feel bad?”
Trump, are you listening?