Turning a Blind Eye: American Exceptionalism and Domestic Adoptions

 

How many of you have been caught innocently watching TV when you’re sent into a 30-second (or longer) guilt trip as you sit in the warmth of your home when the screen flashes to those big, doe-eyed pictures of third-world children? Starving. Barely (if at all) clothed. Or worse–big, doe-eyed ANIMALS. They prey on your emotions until you can’t help but pick up the phone and call and save…something.

 

In no way am I trying to say that these causes are not worth your time or attention or money. But, I’m sitting there watching these commercials and I suddenly wonder: why are there no commercials for the thousands of American children waiting to be adopted, rescued from a foster home or simply fed? Why don’t they get our attention and money too? Think about it. When is the last time you ever saw an advertisement for domestic adoption? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. Why is it okay to run ad after ad after ad for animals and foreign children, while not giving just one spot to our own children in need?

American Exceptionalism is still alive and well. We are still convinced that we are the Divine’s safe haven and chosen land, the pattern for the rest of the world to follow and simply–exceptional. We are a light upon the hill. Fear of darkening this light or the safety we find within our superiority prevents us from pointing out our own country’s needs when it comes to domestic adoptions. It’s too ugly, too raw and too painful. It reminds us that we’re not all hard-working, middle-class “‘muricans” who value family, diligence and democracy. Because one of us, an American, abandoned these poor children and along the way, most likely, did some pretty hard damage to their psyche and physical health.

If we truly are devoted to the concept of American Exceptionalism and continuing that, we should realize that part of that exceptionalism is an ability to identify your own faults and FIX them. American exceptionalism is rooted in an understanding that we are to be an example to the rest of the world based on living our lives out according to God’s guiding principles. In that case, it is our responsibility to help ourselves. And in helping ourselves, we would be a positive example to other nations. We would continue to be a model.

I hope that this blog makes you think a little more about the importance of doing your part to help those in need in our own backyard. Yes, helping international babies and animals is important too. But what type of country are we if we ignore our own issues and only seek to help other countries with theres?

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? -Matthew 7:3

“…for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us;” -John Winthrop

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Modern Love and the Death of the Joint Bank Account

Joint bank accounts have gone the way of the wind…or at least, they have in Missouri (or have they just not made it here yet…? Sorry, lame Missouri-is-Misery joke). The common trend here is that couples do not have a joint bank account. A 2005 study by Radon Financial Group, reported in the Wall Street Journal, found that 48% of married couples have separate accounts. So I have a hard time believing this is just a Missouri practice. 

 

Case Study A: I was at lunch with some of my female coworkers, and the topic of budgets, boyfriends, and bills came up. Coworker A mentioned that her boyfriend ‘generously’ paid the rent, and they split the utilities. Did I mention that they’ve been living together for 7 years? 7 years and you still split utilities? Coworker B agreed that her and her HUSBAND did the same thing, and thus began a long discussion of the intimate details of their financial arrangements. Essentially, the majority of the table (and the people they knew) all had separate bank accounts from their spouses (or long term boyfriends, I’m talkin…civil marriage long term…) and that they all split the bills. When the one person at the table fessed up to the fact that her and her husband did have a joint bank account, it was met with rapid silence and a chorus of “oh. how does that work”‘s. She blushed. 

 

Case Study B: Another female coworker of mine keeps her paycheck as her “fun money.” Now I’ve heard of this before, women working part-time jobs just to get out of the house and have some extra fun money. That’s normal. Until she starts complaining about how she has to use her paycheck for her speeding ticket, which may be over the amount of her paycheck (umm, slow down) and she (direct quote) “doesn’t want to have to ask [her husband] for extra money.” I’m sorry…what? And then she goes “I don’t want to have to take money from him. Plus, he has to pay for his dental surgery this week.” Hold the phone (the rotary phone, in Missouri’s case…wink wink). Isn’t it your money too? I mean you are…married. For twenty years. And your husband has to pay his own dental bills? Do you pay your own dental bills? What if your car breaks, do you pay that too? What do you guys pay for together? How much time and anxiety do you add to your life by having this separate system that requires you talk over who will be paying for what before every decision? Do you split dinners, groceries, and vacation prices? What if you pick up a razor for him on the way home, or a pack of socks? Do you turn in a reimbursement slip? You’ve been married 20 years! What happened to “what’s mine is yours to have and hold” and “two becoming one.” Is it now in sickness and health, but not in my wallet? 

 

Plus, how do these separate bank accounts work once they have children? Does one cover the medical, and the other the clothes? 

 

If my fiance asked me to have separate bank accounts, my first question would be “And just where do you plan on going?” and then I would promptly hand the ring back. Marriage should be entered into with the idea that it is forever (obviously, shit happens, I get it, and plans might change). But you shouldn’t go into a lifelong commitment with an escape plan on the ready. Plus, once even the idea of separation comes up, think how much easier separate accounts would make it. Done. 

 

Besides my obvious issue with this in regards to how very un-marriage-y it is, I also have a problem with the way it pertains to female empowerment. These women talked about separate bank accounts as their source of empowerment  equality, and independence. Having control of their own money made them feel empowered, they cited it as a huge step forward for women. I cite that as a huge step backward. For explanation, let’s just go back to Case Study B. She had to ask her husband for help to pay her ticket. And right there women, we are right back to where we started. Right back to sitting below them and asking for their assistance and benevolence. They can say yes, or no…and we are dependent on their answer. They grant us permission. Isn’t escaping that what feminism was all about? You shouldn’t have to ask your husband for extra money to pay your parking ticket or your dentist bill or your groceries. Your husband should trust you to use the money in a responsible, mature way for what you need. You shouldn’t need his permission. And, shouldn’t your husband be putting you above his money? Shouldn’t he love you enough that money is not an issue and that if you need it, it’s yours to have? 

 

So no, ladies, separate bank accounts are not empowerment. In my opinion, they are the exact opposite. Your husband should be your number one partner. You greatest support emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially. 

 

And of course…I want to hear your opinions. Is this a common practice outside of Missouri? Do you think it’s a good idea? Am I just crazy?