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  • At a dinner party last night, I was laughing about how I can't publish one of my blog posts. It is based on my boyfriend and I joking about adopting a baby. Which evolved into the preference for the baby to be a black baby. Why? I don't remember. Something about all the celebrities doing it...keeping up with the times...etc. All of it inappropriate, of course, especially coming from a white couple who already have easily and/or accidentally conceived children from past marriages and do not want any more.

    Needless to say when going off on wine-fueled tangents like these, I'm not thinking about all of the ways I might offend people. I'm thinking about the story and how to make it as funny as possible.

    When I first wrote the post I told some family members about it. I should say here that this family is actually the sister, brother-in-law, and cousin of my ex-husband. I won them in the divorce. One is blonde, one is Mexican, one is Korean. After the divorce they told me it was my job to go out and "find a brother," so that we could complete our family rainbow. I've found that there's something about either being a minority yourself, or being a part of a family that includes different races, which makes one more comfortable joking about said races. My Korean brother makes Asian driver jokes. My Mexican cousin makes cracks about cliche jobs often held by Hispanic people. So naturally I thought it would be okay to share my story with them.

    They thought my blog post was a terrible idea. Crossing the line, even for me. I said I could angle it more toward the celebrity trend of adopting babies from Africa, how it was the Hot Thing for a while and seems to be quieting down now. They didn't like this either. They chastised gently. I asked "why is it okay to joke about it in your living room, but not in my blog?"

    "It's different," they told me.

    I sent the post to a friend, who is black. I knew that she would be honest about whether she found it offensive. She said it was hilarious and nowhere near too inappropriate. However, she offered that she might not be the best person to ask, since she knows my sense of humor and that I meant no harm, whereas others may react differently. She asked if she could share it with her roommate, who is also black and could read it more objectively. Her roommate also took no offense. Her only note was that I might want to make it clear that while I may be mocking the celebrity trend of adopting black babies, I am fully supportive of adoption and creating family in any way that works for all of the individuals involved. That by joking about doing it myself when I have no intention to might strike a chord with those placing all of their hopes on that very thing. After all, my readers don't know me. They don't know that my two oldest brothers are adopted. That I have a multi-cultural family. They just know what I tell them.

    So last night I was relaying this whole story, hoping to get other opinions on the topic. As I was talking and laughing about all of the taboo topics in my post, I wasn't thinking about the woman at the other end of the table, who'd found out the day before that her latest round of In Vitro had once again proven unsuccessful. Who'd reached her hand into her cat's box that very morning and found her 17-year-old cat, dead. Who'd been late to the party because when she took the cat to the vet for cremation, that doctor had been more sympathetic about her infertility struggles than the fertility doctor, and so she'd stayed a bit longer than planned, allowing herself to grieve with the kind veterinarian.

    The one who'd come to a dinner party in hopes of distraction from her sorrow. Relaxing into the evening, hearing people's histories and holiday plans. Then as the evening wore on and everyone was perhaps more drunk than necessary, a sucker punch from the hostess of the party who wasn't thinking, as usual, never one with a knack for social graces, telling a story about how she wrote about adopting a black baby but all the white, Mexican and Korean people she knows think it's too offensive to publish, boo hoo.

    I woke up in the middle of the night, replaying my soapbox moment, feeling dreadful. "Why do I always say the WORST thing?" I asked myself. "Why am I such an insensitive asshole?"

    I continued to berate myself in this way, through tea and the drive to work, hours of rote tasks, until I received a message from the guest I was sure I'd offended. She said thank you, so much, for the great evening. She said it was perfect, and just what she needed - a good laugh.

    You really never can tell.
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