Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Post Adoption Depression: I've Adopted a Baby, So Why Am I So Sad?

Post Adoption Depression.

It's one of the topics rarely discussed in the adoption community, yet it is more common than you might think.  

Why the silence?  The expectation that new parents and those congratulating new parents holds is this:  that the parents should be completely overjoyed to FINALLY be mom and dad that the typical issues that come with parenthood should be a non-issue for for those who adopt.

Sleepless nights?


Baby who refuses to eat?  


Fussy baby?  


But the truth is, "adoptive" parents are really JUST parents.  With real parental struggles and challenges.  You need to be free to struggle.  (Did you hear that?)  Your baby isn't magical.  You aren't magical.  Parenting is messy.  It's exhausting.  It's hard. It's faith-shaking.  For ALL parents.  

However, there are additional pressures put upon those who adopt.  Pressure to be perfect, thankful, fulfilled parents who enjoy every moment (no matter what) with their beautiful baby.   

So here I am to drop some Post Adoption Depression truth bombs:  

You may not have had the pregnancy hormones and the strain of giving birth, but your struggles were/are no less legitimate and authentic.  Whatever they were and are.  

Post Adoption Depression can set in days, weeks, months, or even years (yes, years) after an adoption takes place.  

Post Adoption Depression can happen for a myriad of reasons, but one that is common is struggling to attach to the baby.  The struggle to attach may be fear (what if the baby ends up going home to his or her biological parents?  what if I'm not good enough to mother this child?), obligation (feeling the need to cling to the relationship formed to the biological parents over forming a bond with the baby), guilt (for becoming a parent to another person's child), sadness (for past losses), or change (adding a child to a family can create emotional, financial, spiritual, marital strain).  You might even be feeling guilty for feeling guilty!  

Pretending NOT to be depressed doesn't make the reality go away.  Post Adoption Depression is legit.   Acknowledge the pain, the struggle.  Call it out for what it is.  That's half the battle.  

If you have Post Adoption Depression, you need help.  You need support (think an adoption support group, an adoption-competent counselor, a spiritual leader, and of course, family and friends).  You need people to tell you your feelings are valid, but who offer you the encouragement to take steps forward.  

You need space:  space to feel the feelings.  It's OK to feel what you are feeling, to acknowledge that feeling, and to deal with that feeling.  In fact, that's healthy!  Because you are going to have that feeling whether you call it out for what it is or not:  so why not just keep it real?  

You need education.  What is it you need to learn more about in order to break free?  To emerge from the fog?   Who can provide those resources for you?  Learning more about a specific topic can empower you, melting away the ignorance (fear), the misconceptions.  Is it the struggles you face in an open adoption?  Special needs adoption? Transracial adoption?  Is it attachment?  Is it past trauma?  

You need action-steps.  What, based on your education, do you know that you need in order to move forward?  Perhaps it's attachment parenting techniques.  Perhaps it's more your time (self care).  Perhaps it's counseling.   Perhaps it's a combination of things.  Whatever is right for you, is right for you.

You need faith.  If you're a person of faith like I am, but you're in the rut of Post Adoption Depression, you've perhaps either turned away from God in this season or turned on God (blaming Him).  Either way, can I tell you I believe God is strong and mighty, and He's waiting for you with open arms despite your feelings toward Him in this moment?  

You need grace.  You will not move forward from any struggle in a matter of seconds.  There's no quick schemes here.  Time.  Space.  Good days and bad.  But the key is to see the issue for what it is, know that you aren't alone, and give yourself grace to stumble. 

You will get back up.  You will press on.  You will be the mommy your child needs.  Because that fire in you?  That's your mommy instinct, burning bright and fierce, and Post Adoption Depression will not have enough water to put it out.  

Maybe right now, your fire feels more like a fragile spark.  That's OK.  You've got something there.  It just needs to be fanned and fed.  Take the steps.  A better day is coming.  

Have you or someone you know faced Post Adoption Depression?  How did you emerge from the fog? 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why Adoption Fees Should Not Be Based on the Child's Race

This week, a reader asked me to address this issue:  Is it OK for adoption agencies to charge fees based on the race of the child?   

Short answer:  no.  

Long answer.  Here it goes.  

1:  An adoption journey should cost what an adoption journey costs.

If an agency is charging based on the race (or sex) of the child, that means they're charging money FOR the child, not for the adoption journey.  Because adoption journeys, generally speaking, cost agencies about the same amount of money.  The adoption journey costs should be averaged and that's what EVERY family should pay.  

Essentially, charging money based on a child's race ensures that there is baby-buying and baby-selling, not an ethical adoption where parents are paying for a process, not a person.  

2:  It can be detrimental to the parents. 

An agency that charges based on a child's race encourages lower-income (white) hopeful parents to adopt a child they are not prepared for or do not truly desire.  

If an agency hikes up the adoption fees for the most "in demand" babies (typically white, healthy newborns) while "discounting" the adoption fees for babies in less demand (children of color, especially males), they are not only baby selling (see point #1), but they are also allowing only the wealthier families to adopt white children while "limiting" less wealthy families to children of color.

The problem?

Not every hopeful parent should be parenting children of color. (And by the way, a bi-racial child is a child of color, so I completely disagree with agencies allowing hopeful parents to be open to a white or bi-racial child, but not a "full" child of color.  Colorism in adoption is NOT ok and is also detrimental to the adoptee whose parents fail to understand transracial adoption and race.)

Transracial adoption requires many things.  And honestly, it is OK that not all families are open to children of any race.  Some families may lives in areas with little-to-no racial diversity.  Or they may have racist family members.  Or they may simply feel ill-prepared to adopt a child of color. 

An agency that encourages any hopeful parents to accept the placement of any child that the hopeful parents are prepared to raise is irresponsible of the agency.  Agencies that "encourage" placements of kids of color into families who cannot afford the adoption fees for a child they are prepared to parent (white children) is so disturbing and disgusting, and clearly indicative of an unethical agency.  (See point #4.) 

3:  It harms the adoptee.

This is point #3, but is certainly the most important argument for agencies NOT basing their fees on the child's race.  Because the innocent party in any adoption, the one who has no say-so, is the adoptee.  The adoptee is reliant upon the adults in the situation (the agency, the hopeful parents, the biological/expectant parents) to make good, healthy, responsible, respectable decisions.  

Allowing families who shouldn't be adopting transracially to adopt transracially does the adoptee a major disservice.  Worse, it could completely ruin the child's life!  Furthermore, how would an adoptee feel knowing that their parents got a "discount" on adopting him or her?  

What is done in the dark will always come into the light.  I'm a firm believer in telling our children the truth.  About handing over to them, when age-appropriate, their adoption files.  Disclosing to them information about their adoption stories throughout the child's entire life.  Transparency and authenticity build trust, and all good relationships are firmly planted in trust.  I can see how trust could be completely broken if you either do not share information about adoption fees with your adoptee and/or your child realizes he or she was "less" because of the color of their skin!  And you, as the parent, approved of that.  

4:  An ethical agency isn't being used.

In my opinion, an agency that charges based on the race of a child isn't an ethical agency.   

Because an ethical agency would charge reasonable, fair fees for an adoption journey AND would focus on what is best for the adoption triad, mostly on the adoptee, and not on capitalizing on the race of the child and the income of the hopeful parents.  This goes back to both points #1 and #2.   

Using an unethical agency has so many negative and forever consequences.  So though just one problem is fees, there are many, many other problems with using an agency that charges based on a PERSON and not on a PROCESS.

Finding an ethical agency is so incredibly important.  I spend a lot of time detailing why and how to find an ethical agency in my latest book.  For anyone considering embarking on a domestic infant adoption journey, or someone who is in the midst of one, I cannot emphasize enough how important ethics are and why you must, above all, be committed to an ethical adoption.  

If you sign up for my e-newsletter, you can receive my FREE e-book, "The Magic Letter in Adoption," right to your inbox.  There I explore why ethics (among other things) are crucial to your journey.


We have adopted four children over the course of a decade, and we have never used an agency that charged families based on the race or sex of the child.  We also do not use agencies that base their fees on the income of the hopeful parents for some of the same reasons I listed here, but mainly, because I have ethical concerns with it.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this very important issue.  Let's connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.    

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Multiracial, Multicultural Family Life: A Conversation with Diedre Anthony

"Are they all yours?" asked the stranger standing behind me in the checkout line.  She gestured toward the four children with me:  two arguing, one attempting to smell all the gum packets, and the other squealing loudly (just for the fun of it).

I wanted to say, "What do you think? I don't bring four random kids to the store to have a good time."   But I don't, even though I'm tired and irritated.  Instead I just say, "Yes they are!" and then turn my attention back to reminding my son to put the gum packets back where they belong. 

We attract attention and always have, since the day our very first child joined our family.   With the addition of each child, the attention increased:  second glances, questions, smiles.  Not all attention is bad, but it's not something we crave.  We really are just a normal family who does normal things and lives a normal life.  And taking four kids anywhere is an adventure, so I'm mainly focused on making sure we stay together as a group and maintain some sort of sanity. 

Diedre Anthony, author of the blog Are Those Your Kids?, is in a similar situation.  As a mom of two (soon-to-be three!) and a Black woman married to a white man, she's no stranger to questions and comments.  Yet this mama has been rockin' it, taking her passion and knowledge and channeling them into a Facebook group, e-book, and, of course, her blog.  And today, she's offering us some insight on caring for Black hair and navigating multiracial family life.

Rachel:  Earlier this year, you started a Facebook group for moms in multiracial families.  Why did you think this was important?  What do you love about your group?  What do you hope members gain by participating?  

Diedre:  Being in a multiracial family brings unique challenges that monoracial families can't relate to. We often face criticism or have questions about life happenings that can be difficult to find the answers to. I wanted to create a space that was safe to share these challenges and a place to provide answers and additional resources for multiracial families.

I think what makes my group different from many others is the fact that I screen members and spend a lot of time moderating conversations.  I love that everyone comes to the table with unique ideas, opinions, and experiences, but I allow everyone to express their opinions without being offensive or pushy with other members. I have been known to turn off commenting on a post if I felt like the conversation was taking a negative turn. 

I like for my group to be a positive and supportive place. The word is filled with so much negativity. My group will not add to that.  

Rachel:  You are Black, your husband is white, your girls (and baby-on-the-way) are bi-racial.   What's the best thing about being a multiracial family?  What's the most challenging?  

Diedre:  I love that we are truly a melting pot. My husband was born and raised in South Georgia. His family has traditions that he shares with me, and I share the traditions and food of my Jamaican family with him. We've been lucky because our families love us and get along. We've spent many holidays together and we are raising our children in a beautifully blended multiracial/multicultural family.  

Rachel:  Tell me about your new e-book!   Why did you write it?  What will readers get from it? Where can we buy it? 

Diedre:  In my Facebook group and on the blog, I get a lot of questions about curly hair care. As a naturally curly girl myself, I understand the struggle! There are so many products on the market that it's difficult to know which one to choose, and can be frustrating when you've spent a significant amount of money on products and none of them work. 

You can purchase the e-book here.  

Rachel:  You grew up as a military child.  How did your childhood experiences shape you in terms of diversity, acceptance, and racial-confidence? 

Diedre:  I absolutely loved my upbringing! My friends were a mixture of races and cultures and that was my normal. When someone new moved into town, it was almost a battle to see who could be friends with them first. I was always intrigued by their latest travels and where they had been in the world. I loved when my neighbors came back from overseas and brought candy and food from wherever they were. It was always an adventure!

My parents both came from Jamaica as teens, so they faced some discrimination when they came to the States. They taught me to be polite to others and eat at least a little of what you are offered, even if it doesn't look appetizing. I learned to appreciate other cultures based on my upbringing. 

Rachel:  For fellow multiracial families, whether built by biology or adoption, when we encounter someone who is condescending, judgmental, nosy, or critical, what is the BEST way to respond when our kids are watching our every move and listening to our every word?  

Diedre:  To me, it's sad that people still expect everyone in the family to look alike. Even in monoracial families, there will be kids that just don't look like their parents. We are in 2018 and things have changed so dramatically in our world, that it really surprises me when people are shocked by my family dynamics. As my children age, I think I will tell them (if they ask) that people ask about our family dynamics because maybe they don't get out much :)

While they are little, I will just respond with yes they are my children. When you are out in public with your children, sometimes the questions don't come at the most convenient time. I know some of my more sarcastic responses come when I'm already frustrated with my children. But it is important to me to remain calm and in control. I want my kids to see that ignorance does not control my response and that I am ultimately in control of my emotions.

I think the best response is going to vary by comfort level. I definitely would not encourage being rude, especially because your children are watching.I would answer that yes, they are my children and then change the subject or walk away. I think that sends a pretty clear message that the conversation is over and inappropriate. Walking away is perfect when you are in a store (which is where this typically happens to me). You don't owe this stranger anything. 

Rachel:  How do you build your children's racial confidence?  How do affirm them racially?   

Diedre:  We read A LOT. I surround them with diversity through books in our home, and even with toys. They have dolls in just about every race available. It's also important to me that we break gender and cultural stereotypes. They have toys like microscopes, trucks, and cars. We eat at ethnic restaurants. Growing up on an Air Force Base taught me that this was normal. So this is how I raise my kids. 

Diedre's daughters reading our book: POEMS FOR THE SMART, SPUNKY, AND SENSATIONAL BLACK GIRL

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dear Church: 6 Things You Need to Know When an Adoptive or Foster Family Visits

Dear Church:

My name is Rachel.  When my family walks through the doors of your facility, you will probably notice us.  Not probably.  Correction.  You will definitely notice us. 

That's OK.  

Two white parents and four Black kids:  we stand out.  We're used to it.   Plus, we're a big family:  large and loud.   

Though we look different, we are there for the same reasons your other congregants are there:  because church is important to us and we want to find a place of belonging, and a place to grow spiritually.   

But can I tell you, there are some thing you need to know about my family/families like ours, families formed by adoption and foster care.   

1:  Don't insist our children go to Sunday School/children's church/nursery.    

Many churches today expect and emphasize that children should go to the designated children's area, not sit in church with their parents.  Trust me when I say, I know kids can be distracting and disruptive, and if my children do something along these lines, I promise to take them out of the service.  

You may wonder, why not?   

Our kids may have traumatic backgrounds.  They may have attachment issues.  They may be completely terrified of strangers.  This goes beyond typical childhood "separation anxiety."  To hand our children to complete strangers and walk away for an hour or so maybe isn't going to happen.

Don't question our decision.  Instead, offer up a "busy bag" for those kids who stay in church.  Or offer empathy and support.  We may not explain to you why our children aren't going with the other kids.  Be OK with that.   Trust that we are the parents and we know what we're doing.  Tell us what services you offer for kids, and then leave it up to us to decide.   

(If your sanctuary isn't welcoming of children, we're not coming back.)  

2:  Don't touch our kids, including their hair.   

This is an issue we encounter everywhere, not just church.  

Curious white hands try to make their way to our Black daughters' intricate cornrows.   

Let me be clear:  you shouldn't touch children you don't know, and you should never touch a Black child's hair.  

Just because their hair has color in it, or beads at the ends, or an afro, these things aren't your invitation to put your hands in our children's hair.  It's inappropriate.  It's a micro-aggression.  And it's offensive.  

You are more than welcome to say how nice/handsome/beautiful their hair is.  Just don't touch it, and don't grill them:  "How long did that take?  That must have taken such a LONG time!"  That's just weird and awkward.  

Again, children with traumatic pasts or special needs may be really uncomfortable with strangers.  I know touch is part of the beauty of the human experience.  But a stranger touching a child can be incredibly anxiety-inducing for our kids.   

So wave.  Say hi.  Introduce yourself.  But don't put pressure on the kids to respond, and certainly, "keep your hands to yourself."  

3:  Don't pour out your adoption story or insist we tell you ours. 

We visited a new church recently where a woman (in a multiracial, biological family) introduced herself, told us all about the children's program, and then asked, "Now are your kids from the same family?"   

Um, are we girlfriends?  Didn't we JUST meet?  

Another woman came up to us and gushed that she was a grandma by adoption.  I think she was excited to meet another family like ours.  But then she proceeded to tell us her grandchild's adoption "story" including the fact that he was abandoned, languished in an orphanage, had special needs, and she wasn't even exactly sure how old he was due to his previous life.   It was uncomfortable.  It was awkward.  It was inappropriate.  

My kids' adoption stories are beautiful, and they are none of your business.  

Examples of what NOT to say:  "Are they real siblings?"  "Are they in foster care?"  "What country are they from?"  "Why did you adopt?"  "Why didn't you have your own kids?"  

If there are other families-by-adoption in your church, and if we attend your church long-term, we'd love to connect with them.  But this is one of our initial visits.  Don't bombard us.  And don't assume that part of our nice-to-meet-you conversation is going to entail us divulging intimate, private family details.  

4:  Don't ask a lot of us or hand us a bunch of crap.

When I walk in the door with six coats, four backpacks (full of toys/snacks/diapers/etc.), my purse, and my family, I just want some Jesus.  I don't want to fill out your paperwork so you can call me, mail me something, or drop something by my house.   Just be friendly and respect boundaries 1-3 that I just shared.  I know you'd like us to come back.  And trust me, we will if it's the right fit for us or we want to learn more.  But just don't put another piece of paper or "free gift" into my already very full hands.   Please.   I cannot.    

And while we're at it:  children's ministry.  Do not give out candy and snacks, many of which my kids' cannot have.  This is not exclusive to adoption/foster care.  

We visited a church a few weeks ago where the kids were given candy before we even had them in their classroom.  Candy two of my four kids cannot have due to the dye in them.  Then when they left, they were handed more candy.  It all went in the trash.   

On the way home, I asked one of my kids how class went, and she told me one of the kids in her class had type 1 diabetes (like I do).  I asked her, "How did you know?"  She said she told the teacher she cannot have the candy because of her diabetes.  (Heartbreak!)

I worked in children's ministry for years.   Please just keep it really simple and fun.   And don't give the mom and dad MORE work.  Getting to church was work enough!   

5:  Don't tell us your church is diverse if it's not.  

One Asian person or two Black people doesn't mean your church is diverse.   

This has happened to us many times.  We call a church to get information, and of course I ask about racial diversity.  What I'm told on the phone and what I see on the church FB page tend to be VERY different.  

Just tell us the truth.  Don't waste my time.  If your church isn't racially diverse, just say so.  You don't have to hide it, apologize, or explain away.  Just give me the truth.

I called a church a few weeks ago and asked.  She said, "it's not right now.  But that is an area of focus for us."  She went on to explain all the things they're doing to become a more woke congregation and increase their diversity.  I very much appreciated her honesty!

6:  Educate your staff on adoption and foster care.

If you have adoptive/foster families in your congregation, ask them to educate your staff and leadership on adoption and foster care.  This helps you not only be a place of welcoming for families like mine, but helps you "lead by example."  You can teach your congregants by knowing what's right and wrong yourself!  

One example would be positive adoption language (PAL).  For example, a child was "placed" for adoption, not "given up" or "given away" or "put up."   A child "was" adopted (if the adoption has been finalized) and should not be referred to as "an adopted child" or "a foster child."  They are first and foremost a child.  (WORDS MATTER!)

The more you learn about adoption and fostering, the more likely you are going to attract and keep families like mine at your church.  And as you do have families join, ask them what they need and how you can support them.  Consider having one of your families head up a ministry just for families like mine.

Of course, you can always snag my book as a no-nonsense, authentic, funny, educational resource on adoption.  

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for listening.  Now go be church to families like mine! 

Love, Rach

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What's the Deal With Essential Oils? A Conversation With Meghan Joy Yancy

I'm going to be totally honest with you (always).   I am like SO not cool.  Not on-trend.   With anything:  health, music, television shows, books, fashion.  
But after learning I had breast cancer (disease #2, since the #1 spot was taken by type 1 diabetes) last summer, a friend of mine (also a survivor) suggested sniffing essential oils.  Like taking a deep whiff when I was feeling another wave of debilitating anxiety.  I had a few oils in my bathroom drawer. So I took her advice, even though I was like, essential oils, what?  
Now if you know me, you know I'm a major skeptic when it comes to all-things-health.  I don't believe in magical cures, diet plans (like no carbs---because, are you freaking kidding me?!?---heavily referenced in my latest book), or pills that make you a health superstar.  How are essential oils any different?  Well I'll tell you the truth:  taking a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the oil, DID offer me some temporary relief from my anxiety.  
Curiosity got the best of me, and I reached out to a fellow blogger and mama of a big, multiracial family:  Meghan Joy YancyShe knows all about essential oils, and she told me I could ask her anything.  Anything?  Yes, anything.  So I did just that.
Rachel:  First, you have a big, beautiful, multiracial family and another little one on the way:  a baby girl!  HOW in the world do you stay sane? 
MJY:  Haha! Jesus. Really though, my faith in God. He is my rock. And there are so many factors that play a role in my sanity. I’m a huge advocate of SAYING NO (even to good things) because I believe a more simple life is the key to that secret sauce of happiness. I’m not talking about laziness but I am referring to leading a life of less busy-ness. My husband is my partner in life and we make such a great team so we really help balance one another out well. And there are definitely still days of crazy chaos, but I’m learning to embrace them and learn from them.
Rachel:  Can I be honest with you?  When the essential oil trend began (and to this day), I’m a skeptic.  I don’t believe in magical cures.  As a type 1 diabetic and breast cancer survivor, I know that there are many tracks to good health, not just ONE thing. So pitch to me, please.  How can essential oils, overall, boost a person or family’s health?  
MJY:  Can I be honest with you, too? I WAS A SKEPTIC TOO! And then I started using the oils and my world flipped upside down. And truth be told, it’s an entire lifestyle of health and wellness that I believe so. When I started using YL essential oils, my eyes were open to so much more. I began researching more about the food that we ate and the products we put on our skin. It opened the door for a completely new lifestyle for myself and my family. And I can truthfully say that our health has just continued to benefit from using the oils and making many other changes in our life. That being the food we eat, the products we use and the atmosphere we surround ourselves with.
Rachel:  We’re right in the midst of sick season. Flu.  Colds.  Croup.   Strep.  You name it.  Can you suggest some specific ways essential oils can help a family get through? 
MJY:  First of all, I wanted to just clarify that any suggestions made are specific to Young Living Essential Oils and not be used with oils from another source. Any statements I make have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician. That all being said, in our home, we use Thieves EO for all our immune boosting needs! We have it running in our diffuser, rub on the bottoms of our feet and create some great all-natural chest rubs with RC (for respiratory support) as well. We drink the Thieves Vitality oil in our tea and I even will take it in an empty vegetable capsule when I need an extra immune system boost. I also like to add Purification EO to our diffuser as it purifies the air while neutralizing odors. Win win, baby!

Rachel:  As I’ve shared, I struggle with anxiety (like many moms!), as does one of my children.  Can essential oils help me ease some of my symptoms?  

MJY:  There are so many oils that can help bring emotional balance to people of all ages. I love making specific rollerball blends for each of my children that will cater to each of their needs. StressAway EO is a great oil for moms! I love to put a rollerball top straight on the bottle and rub it on my neck and shoulders. Besides smelling amazing, it holds properties that help you achieve that emotional balance and release stress. For my kids, my go-to oil is always lavender. It helps brings feelings of peace and calm and is great to diffuse close to bedtime. Gentle Baby EO is a gem I love to sprinkle on the babies blankets and pajamas before naptime or bedtime for a calming atmosphere. Some other great oils to create a blend for that emotional support are Cedarwood, Vetiver, Valor, Patchouli, Joy and Peace + Calming.
Rachel:  I'm ridiculous when it comes to makeup.  Like I stand in the aisle at the store or stare blankly at my computer screen:  frustrated and confused.  I usually walk away with NOTHING or too much of what doesn't even end up looking good on me!  I'm also really wanting to live as healthy as possible:  so I want QUALITY and safe ingredients.   Talk to me about makeup, since girl, you ALWAYS look stunning in your IG pics.  I need to know your secrets!
MJY:  You are too kind! I was actually never too much into makeup (or at least didn’t know much about it until I started youtubin’ a little bit. And then it was fun!) And once I began using YL essential oils and my eyes were opened to the toxins in our every day products, I discovered that a lot of those toxins are in our freakin’ makeup we smear on our faces every day! Women are exposed to over 150 chemicals each day from the makeup we put on our faces. They have horrible side affects on our bodies as well. I knew I needed an alternative and I made the full on switch once YL launched their Savvy Minerals makeup line and it has been extraordinary! I learned the difference between safe and quality products and I took it seriously the ones I’m putting on my face. Plus, I’ve been able to play around with the line and create some really fun looks. The minerals are so interchangeable so I can use the eyeshadow as a shade of lipgloss and I can use the blush or bronzer as a eyeshadow. 
Rachel:  If there’s one thing you’d like to tell the world about essential oils, especially someone like me who is pretty darn clueless, what would it be?
MJY:  That they are a natural part of the earth and people have been using essential oils since the beginning of time. Somehow, they got lost along the way and we are just now beginning to get back to more natural remedies. There are so many alternatives out there and I just encourage people to do your own research. Beginning this lifestyle with essential oils has been absolutely life-changing for me in so many ways and their benefits are available to everyone. The one thing I always say when someone asks me if an essential oil can be used for “so-and-so” is… There is an oil for that. There is ALWAYS an oil for that.
Starting today through Sunday, MJY is giving away an incredible Young Living Essential Oils bundle.  Visit me on Instagram to enter!  

Want to snag some essential oils for yourself or learn more about joining the Young Living team?  Contact Meghan via Insta or e-mail today! 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

When An Adoption Fails, Love is Always the Right Answer

The first time it happened, we got a phone call from our adoption agency.  Would we care for a toddler whose mother was choosing between parenting and placing?  At the time, we had a child of the exact same age:  so we agreed.  We were told it would be just a few days.  But a few days turned into three weeks.  And during that time, I fell in love with the little boy who wasn't mine.  

He was our first son (but not "ours").  He arrived reeking of cigarette smoke, his shoes two sizes too small, and his sippy cup half-full with some sort of bright red liquid.  He was smart.  So smart.  And he was hungry.  Always hungry.  He would eat whatever we fed him.  Within a few days, he went from severely constipated and nervous to a little boy with a glow.  He and our daughter quickly became friends and siblings-of-sorts:  bickering over toys (some biting may have happened...).  Every night, when we put him into a pack-n-play, he would quickly fall asleep, but find himself, in the dead of night, creep into our room, his arms outstretched waiting to be scooped up and cuddled.  

We included him in everything we did.  We took him to the park, out for ice cream, to church.   I took out cornrows for the first time, the little guy being so patient with me.   When my husband would arrive home from work each day, our daughter would squeal "Daddy!" and reach for him.  Within a few days, the little boy would do the same.   

I fell and fell hard for him.   A child among many.  Hungry (for food and love and attention).  I called the social worker and said, "If he's available for adoption, we want him.  We want him to be our son."  But she said no.  There was an interested family, homestudy ready.  

He didn't end up being adopted.  He was instead handed over to his biological father for the first time in his life.  

The day the social worker picked him up, I packed up all the clothes and shoes we purchased for him.  Extra diapers and wipes.   Toys.   I was desperate to give him things, since I couldn't be his mommy.

The social worker said, "Thank you," as we installed the car seat and buckled him in.  Then they drove away.  Forever.   

For a few years, I searched the waiting child websites, hoping (and yet not hoping) to see his face.  I wanted to know he was OK.  Or that my heart didn't lie to me:  that he was to be our son.   


The second time it happened, I had just left a dental appointment.  My girls were with a babysitter.  I turned the volume back up on my phone and saw I had a voicemail from an 816 number.  Kansas City.  The same area my girls had been born.  

My heart started racing.  I immediately called the number back.

It was our lawyer.  A toddler boy was available for adoption, immediately.  He needed to know now:  did we want to be considered to be the little boy's parents?   I called my husband, who is the type who needs time (usually a lot of time...too much time, in my humble opinion) to make decisions.  But this time he said, "OK."  It would be cool, he felt, to have a son.  And the little boy was younger than our youngest daughter, so no messing around with birth order.  

But then it was no.   It would take a good month to get a homestudy (which we needed to do an interstate adoption), complete with state and federal background checks.  I called lawyers.  I called social workers.  But all arrived at the same answer:  that we needed a month to get it done.  And we didn't have a month.  The toddler's mom wanted to place him into a forever family immediately. 

So our yes turned to no.  The son we so desperately wanted was not to be ours.   Again.   And though we had two beautiful daughters, our hearts still ached for the what-could-have-been.


The third and fourth time it happened were potentially the hardest.  

Now you'd think that after having three children, all of whom came to us by adoption, we would be fulfilled.  We wouldn't yearn or imagine or hope.  But we did.  

Twice, biological siblings were placed with another family.  Again, both boys.  

Why were these so difficult?  I think because we know, we know, how strong biological ties are between siblings.  We know how meaningful they can be.  We know that for an adoptee, "losing" a biological sibling to another family can be heartbreaking and confusing.   

And not once.  But twice.  

I know those boys were never mine.  But there were times that the grief I felt, not just for myself, but for my child, was all-consuming.   


Every time there was a no, there was a yes.  When boy 1 didn't become ours, six months later we adopted our second daughter.   Losing Baby D was the prompting we needed to say "yes" to doing another homestudy and adopting again.  

When boy 2 went to another family, we knew we desired to have a son to call ours forever.  Though we never specified sex when adopting, we were matched with a baby who, we learned two months before the due date, was a little boy.   Our son.   

And when two more boys (3 and 4) were not placed with us, I felt the growing urge to adopt "just one more time."  We were matched very quickly, but not with a boy.  Another girl.  Our third daughter (our fourth child).  She is our sunshine.  


So what I want you to know is that the losses, the times you hear no (yet again), the almosts, the rejections, the broken hearts, the hopelessness, the crumbled dreams...they are so real and so raw.  But that's not all, dear one.  They existed and moved you closer to your "yes."  

I am thankful for the heartbreaking moments, the baby boys who left forever imprints on my heart.  I still ache for them, even though I have a beautiful family of four children with miraculous stories.  I am sad, still, that I wasn't to be their mommy.   But I do pray that each of them have exactly who and what they need to become successful, happy, kind, strong young men.   

When you are in the midst of heartbreak, in whatever form it comes to you on this wild adoption journey, you are allowed to feel all the feelings.  You aren't silly or ridiculous for falling in love with children who aren't yours.   You may never "get over" the children who never called you "mommy."  You may not ever stop thinking of them, praying for them, or yearning for them.   

Choosing to build your family by adoption means you are signing up for a lifetime of heartbreak.  It is in that brokenness that the walls come down.  That you are able to realize that the confinements of love are ridiculous and that true love has no walls, no boundaries, and no rules.  

So love, dear one.  Love big.  Love hard.  Love ridiculously well.  Love when it hurts.  Love when it's magical and beautiful and perfect.  Love when the easier response is anger, fear, or sadness.  Just love and love and love. 

Yes, I regret not mothering those precious boys.  Though it was never my choice to not mother them.  But what I do not regret?  Loving them in the big and small ways I could, for the times I could.  

Love IS always the right answer.