Last time I checked I thought that using candidates’ children as targets of attack was pretty much off limits, especially after the 2000 presidential campaign when supporters of George W. Bush engaged in “push polling” to suggesting that John McCain’s daughter, Bridget, who was adopted from Bangladesh, was actually an African-American child he had fathered out of wedlock. The candidates themselves pretty much stick the straight and narrow when it comes to leaving young children out of the ugly world of national campaigns. But some Ron Paul supporters apparently didn’t get that memo.
Jon Huntsman’s two youngest daughters — 12-year-old Gracie who was adopted from China and five-year-old Asha, who was born in India — are the inadvertent stars of a new negative ad produced by some group calling themselves “NHLiberty4Paul,” asking in their “Manchurian Candidate” ad, as if its a bad thing, “China Jon’s Daughters: Even Adopted?”
In the 2000 presidential race, McCain tried to ignore the attacks, hoping they’d go away. Huntsman is taking the opposite approach, saying to reporters that he could only comment on how stupid it is to suggest there was something sinister or Manchurian Candidate-like in his family’s decision to adopt.
As a mom by international adoption myself, I am constantly battling what seems to be a common view in our society — that there’s something wrong with your family if you’ve got a child that you didn’t create the old-fashioned way. But the larger question for me that’s raised by this negative campaign ad, is this — when will our society stop viewing families formed by adoption as something that’s “other.” News reports dealing with families generally don’t make a point of commenting about whether children are biological members of their families. So why do so many people feel the need to point out if adoption was involved? Are they scared? Nervous? Uncomfortable? I think it’s a combination of all those things, but most of all it’s just wrong.
As adults, we can handle it when an inappropriate remark is made about how our families came to be. But our kids can’t. Huntsman is doing a great job making both the press, and whoever this “NHLiberty4Paul” is, back away. But their actions and insinuations are going to linger with Huntman’s daughters — especially his twelve-year-old — forever.
I know because we’ve been there as a family. Obviously no one has ever suggested my husband and I were Communists for adopting our daughter from China. But every comment our daughter ever reads or hears that is in anyway negative, hurtful or insensitive about the fact that she came to us through adoption is like having a rug pulled out from under her sometimes shaky sense of self and where she belongs in this world.
So Ron Paul fans or whoever you are, you need to step off this one. Attack Huntsman’s policies all you want. But leave his children out of it.