When rumors suggested Friday that President Donald Trump was set to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a particularly vile line of attack began to emerge from leftist activists and blue checkmarks on Twitter.
While some of these tweets were later deleted or walked back, the left had tipped its hand: Barrett’s two young, adopted children are not considered out-of-bounds for witch hunts and smears.
Nor was this line of questioning limited to Twitter, according to Diane Kunz of the Center for Adoption Policy. Kunz, who was actively involved in the Obama administration’s effort to expedite 1,152 adoptions from earthquake-stricken Haiti in early 2010, said a major mainstream newspaper contacted her on Thursday with detailed questions about Barrett’s Haitian adoptions.
“I told them there was nothing there,” Kunz said. “Furthermore, I told them no one has a right to this information. Children’s adoption files should never be the target of a political investigation.”
By the time Barrett’s nomination was announced on Saturday, the attacks got even uglier, less focused on insinuations of corruption and more on racial ideology. Ibram X. Kendi, the vaunted prophet of “antiracism,” weighed in with the following commentary, originally juxtaposed against a purported photo of Barrett’s family.
Not to be outdone, leftist historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat jumped in to compare the Barretts’s adoption to the actions of Nazis.
In a final bizarre twist, an actual Nazi weighed in. Surprise! He hates white families adopting black children too.
Why Would the Left Go There?
As outrageous as these attacks are, this isn’t the first time a Supreme Court nominee’s adopted children have become a target. In 2005, when now-Chief Justice John Roberts was under consideration for the Supreme Court, The New York Times launched an investigation into the adoption records of his two young children.
The National Council for Adoption quickly issued a press release in defense of the Roberts children’s privacy, denouncing the Times’ “shameful disregard for the integrity of the family in general and the adoptive family in particular.” In the ensuing backlash, the Times dropped the story.
Indeed, attacking a nominee or other politician — the media also mocked Mitt Romney’s adopted grandson in 2013 — over adoption typically backfires. Americans on the whole value and respect adoptive families, and all decent people are disgusted when children bear the brunt of a politically motivated smear.
“Children’s personal life stories are private, and that is no less true for children placed for adoption,” Ryan Hanlon of the National Council for Adoption commented over the weekend. “Journalists, social media commentators, politicians, and others should respect these children’s privacy and not make unsubstantiated claims for political gain.”
So why would leftist media and activists so quickly turn to this ugly, losing tactic against Barrett? Quite simply, they can’t help themselves. In this new era of puritanical progressive fervor, political savvy has taken a back seat to ideology, and leftist ideology hates intercountry adoption.
In a Racial Struggle, There’s No Room for Love
A growing segment of the race-obsessed left looks at a family like the Barretts and sees precisely what Kendi described: not a beautiful picture of love and humanity, but a sinister picture of colonialism and “white saviors.” In an ideology that views all human relationships through the lens of racial struggle, there’s no room for familial love across racial lines.
There certainly isn’t room to consider practical, compassionate solutions for the world’s millions of orphans. There must be a victim and a villain here. In cartoonish fashion, it’s easy to tell the one from the other — by the color of their skin.
This is why, even as the practice of intercountry adoption has become so heavily regulated that its numbers have sunk to a 50-year low, media narratives about its harms seem to be growing in inverse proportion. This is why essays about the adoption experience, undoubtedly a complex and sensitive personal topic, are so often laced with the sociological jargon of leftist academia. (“I no longer feel the need to perform Whiteness. … I’m on a journey of decolonizing.”) This is why the left is obsessed with the wrongs of the past — even the distant past — rather than honestly attempting to understand today’s adoption landscape, or the ongoing plight of parentless children.
“People talk about the ‘violence of assimilation,’” said Kunz, who has four children adopted from China. “As opposed to what? The actual, physical violence these children experience? As opposed to being malnourished? As opposed to having no future? Tell me, is that better?”
Indeed, in discussing adoption, the anti-adoption left struggles to acknowledge the existence of parentless children at all. When it does, it seems mainly interested in minimizing their plight, at times with reckless disregard for the facts.
In reality, global orphans outnumber American adoptive families by many orders of magnitude. Depending on how one defines an orphan, UNICEF estimates there are anywhere from 17 million to 153 million orphans in the world. This figure doesn’t account for the vast numbers of “social orphans,” children who have living parents but are growing up abandoned.
American families are still the best hope for many of the world’s hard-to-place orphans. “Nearly every child placed for adoptions internationally to the United States is an older youth or a child with a medical or cognitive special need,” said Hanlon. “Compared to adoptive parents around the world, Americans are far more open to adopting children with special needs.”
The Left Is Causing Real Harm to Real Children
None of these facts matter to the leftist ideologue. Those who believe racial identity is the most important facet of human existence will conclude it’s better for a child to grow up in an orphanage than to find a loving family overseas. They accept malnourishment, abuse, neglect, untreated special needs, trafficking, or poverty for a child rather than the horror of losing native culture and language. It’s a view that’s utterly perverse, segregationist, and anti-human, and it’s having real consequences for adoption policy in the United States.
Last fall, the Department of State, the federal agency tasked with regulating intercountry adoption, hosted an adoption policy symposium in Washington, D.C. It packed the speaking roster with anti-adoption ideologues, including one woman who declared the United States to be so racist that “it’s actually not okay to keep bringing black or brown children into this environment.” The State Department considered the symposium a success and is continuing to involve anti-adoption voices in policy discussions.
This is just one small example of the State Department’s ongoing, pervasive bias against adoption, about which I’ve written at length since 2016, and which requires urgent intervention from Congress or the president to save intercountry adoption from extinction. Far more harmful than merely a Twitter rant, leftist anti-adoption dogma is condemning thousands of real children to grow up without families.
It would be irresponsible to write about intercountry adoption, racial issues, and corruption without acknowledging that real concerns exist in all these areas. Adopted children have experienced trauma, and adoptive families need training and support, which have vastly improved in recent years, to help their child heal and understand his identity. Every adoption requires smart, careful regulation to guard against exploitation and abuse.
If you were surprised to see Barrett’s family demonized as child traffickers and white saviors, with absolutely no evidence for these insinuations beyond the fact that they adopted two children from Haiti, don’t be. This isn’t uncommon. It isn’t just about the Supreme Court. This is the extreme left’s view of adoption, the family, and humanity. It’s hurting real children, and it’s worse than you think.