Thursday, December 30, 2010

Please don't ask me...

...if my daughters are "real" sisters or not. Our family is real.

...why my baby girl's parents didn't "want" her. Of course they wanted her. Of course they love her.

...why my baby girl's parents "gave her up." That's none of your business. old the birth parents are. Does it matter?

I know adoptive parents understand my annoyances. Just when we think we are in the clear, that our families are viewed as beautiful, someone comes along to try to justify, reason, or figure out adoption via a negative assumption, comment, or question.

Both of my daughters deserve respect and privacy. Their biological families love them. We have two wonderfully open adoptions---and our family is ever-expanding and changing. And that's a blessing.

Adoption is a puzzle to many people. They want to put the pieces into proper, pre-determined places. That's not how adoption works. There's no perfect picture at the end where all the pieces fit together in an expected, timely fashion. Adoption is its own world. Complicated. Unique.

And that's ok.


ask me about my daughter's personality.

ask me about the joys of adopting her.

ask me what open adoption is like.

Adoptive parents, we must always tread carefully, honestly, and godly---and that's no easy task. But I pray each of us have the strength and conviction to stop, breathe, and respond in a way that educates when the annoying questions crop up.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Random Christmas-y Goodness

Our new baby girl...sound asleep.
Miss E, saying her prayers before lunch (check out her pro-braided hair!)

Christmas cards galore! Thankfully some people still love sending cards!

Miss E's new Barbie ornament. Isn't she gorgeous?

A little blurry, but it's a brown baby in a stocking. Another new addition to the family Christmas tree decor.

Four new brown babies---twins (my SIL got them for the girls), a baby Princess Tiana, and a girl with snap-on clothes (you can find her at Kohl's)

Miss E found comfort in her sister's vibrating chair while gazing at Frosty.

Our Pottery Barn-ish, homemade stockings for the girls. Made by a friend who is obviously quite talented!

One green, one red! Their names are embroidered on the top.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to share this recently taken photo of our daughter, Miss E. If you are an adoptive family (or waiting to become one) in the Edwardsville (IL) area, you must check out Jill's website and see if you'd like to schedule a sitting with her. She offers free sitting fees for newly established adoptive families. Jill is an adoptive mama herself. :)

May each of you have a blessed Christmas---taking what God has given you and in turn, sharing that goodness with others. Reflect, laugh, eat, and be merry! We have so much to be thankful for, including and above all, the fact that Jesus spent time on Earth among people---loving, healing, forgiving, serving, and listening. He impacted the world in a way that no one has before or ever will. May each of us pursue Him, share Him, and love Him.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beautiful Book!

My baby girl mixing cookie dough....before shoving some in for a taste test!

I highly recommend purchasing Under the Christmas Tree by Nikki Grimes for your brown kids this Christmas. The book features beautiful illustrations featuring AA children, and the poetry is simply divine!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Came Early....

Dear Readers,

I am excited to share with you that I am now the proud mother of TWO girls! On November 23, our new baby girl was born, and we were chosen to become her parents one week and one day later.

God's timing is amazing. First, our homestudy was completed rather quickly. We wanted to complete it so we'd be ready to wait in late winter/early spring; however, the training (required and held quarterly) occurred on a day we could attend, so we went. Furthermore, our social worker was available for interviews (for our homestudy) at an early date, so we did them. Paperwork wasn't nearly the hassle it was the first time; this time we had copies of nearly everything.

On Monday, 11/22, my daughter and I went to lunch with our former social worker (who had moved to another state). L and I discussed our plans regarding children. We talked about baby names and motherhood. Little did I know my daughter would be born a day later!

That week was Thanksgiving, so we traveled to visit both sides of our family. We got to spend a little over an hour with my husband's grandfather who had fragile health but still a great spirit.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, he passed away.

Then, as we were preparing to go out of town for his funeral, I made a phone call to our second agency (in another state) to ask the social worker a question. She told me it was interesting I called because a couple would be looking at profiles that night. Would we like ours, that just was shipped to the agency the previous week, to be shown? I called my husband and we said yes.

That night we were at the visitation. It was wrapping up when I noticed a text on my phone from the social worker.


The next few days were a whirlwind of nerves and excitement. We attended grandpa's funeral, made phone calls, sent e-mails, gathered paperwork, did laundry, packed, prayed, and prepared to leave home. Imagine our amazement at the circle of life---a death and a birth.

This past Monday, we met our daughter (whom our older daughter licked a lot--yes, licked). And Tuesday morning, we went to court to get custody of her.

The exciting part is that our first daughter and second daughter were both born in the same town, and both parents want open adoptions. Therefore, we have a whole new set of family in that town! What fun visits there will be!

I want to fully respect the privacy of both my daughter and her biological parents; therefore, I won't publicly blog about any specifics of their lives, situations, etc. However, I will say that our daughter's biological parents are beautiful, kind, mature individuals, and I can't wait to get to know them better.

This adoption was a total whirlwind. Many are stunned, us included, on how quickly this process went for us.

Having two babies, essentially, is overwhelming yet so joyful. Miss E can't keep her hands (or lips) off her baby sister. When our baby cries, Miss E gets close to her and says, "Shhh, baby, shhh" in a gentle voice.

My poor husband has a house full of girls! Imagine a lot of laughter, tears, PMS, dating, and shrieks! :) Thank God my husband is an excellent father. I was sharing this with Miss E's birth mother---that I am so thankful my husband is engaged in his children's lives. He's not on the sidelines with his eyes on the TV, or he's not on the golf course, or he's not drinking beer in a bar after work. My husband is a champion father. I am blessed.

Our new baby girl is African American---large eyes and lots of hair. She can cry really loudly! She doesn't like being cold (which means boo on diaper changes). She's already smiled a few times, and yes, I've already read her some books. :) She's healthy and strong---ready to see what God has in store for her.

My cup runneth over.

I cannot believe God's goodness. Nothing brings me closer to Him than adoption. Mostly because adoption---one, renders me powerless and makes me re-realize that God is indeed in charge and two, I am in awe of God's trust in me to raise these precious babies and forever be in relationship, we hope, with their biological families. What responsibility! What blessing! What joy!

We have so much to be thankful for this Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fa La La! Christmas at Our House...

Santa and his lovely wife!
Elegant Santa

Choir girl

AA Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus

Lovely brown angel, found at Cracker Barrel last year (post-Christmas) for $6!

AA Santa---a gift from my mom last Christmas

Our new ornament, representing our lovely family of three!

Our living room C-mas decor. Our original tree was white and silver, but with a child, things get much more colorful and festive!

Daddy and Miss E decorating the tree.

We were blessed last year by a dear friend and fellow adoptive mama who gave us her collection of AA Christmas ornaments! It's been no easy task finding Christmas decor that represents my daughter's race, so thankfully we have friends and family members looking out for decor.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Adoptive Parent Networking

A friend and fellow adoptive mama recently e-mailed me and asked me how I felt about adoptive parents networking (meaning, advertising themselves outside of their agency in the hopes of meeting an expectant mother wanting to place her child for adoption). The following is my response---not the most organized or cohesive, but it sums up my feelings:

I am not comfortable AT ALL with marketing ourselves. No newspaper ads, no parent profile online, no YouTube video, no business cards, no crisis pregnancy centers, no doc offices. I want our adoption to happen organically. I will not prey on expectant mothers. Plus, women who go to a crisis preg center could be just one month preg. That is not the time to decide on adoption.

Our old agency used online profiles (which we did) and YouTube videos (which we did not).

I flat out told *social worker's first name* today that we won't be marketing ourselves with any ads, business cards, etc. We will be working w/two agencies (*agency name* and *agency name*). That's enough.

Can you tell I have an opinion on this topic?

Why rush the process? We'll get placed quickly enough, I feel, [due to our openness to all races, either sex, and an open adoption with the birth family] without being on the prowl for a baby.

The online profiles also encourage a-parents to compete---who has the best letter? The best video? The best pictures? When *agency name* presents profiles, we a-parents can't compete b/c we don't see the competition---know what I mean?

I know some couples have waited years, maybe even a decade or two, to become parents. The networking avenues are endless and honestly, very tempting---do whatever, however, to end the dreaded wait. Many couples do not think twice about self-marketing. I admit that early in our first adoption process, I didn't think much of it either. It was all about us getting our baby and nothing or no one else. :( Embarrassing to admit. I partially blame the adoption industry for making adoption so much about those of us to pay the big bucks and not about the human hearts involved. But I also blame ourselves. Though, to be fair, everyone needs time to grow, learn, and change. Thankfully, we got the opportunity to grow, learn, and change BEFORE our first placement.

I'd rather do things right than obtain a child through manipulative and unethical tactics. After all, I believe we answer to God for everything we do.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Random Goodness: Hair, Skin, & Adoption

Miss E playing in an ice-cream-maker box. Oh what fun!!!

I've had many adoptive mothers of brown kids ask me recently about hair products. I feel very strongly that not only does it matter what we put into our bodies (food/drink) but what we put on our bodies. After all, our skin is a largest organ.

It's hard to find products that are healthy and work well, so there's always the constant cycle of trial and error.

Currently, we use this product in Miss E's hair: Kinky Curly Curling Custard. One, a little goes a LONG way. Two, it works well. Three, it smells like cake batter. Four, the ingredients are safe.

You can order the product online or find a local retailer.


My baby girl, like many kids, has eczema. Again, I prefer to go as natural as possible, but her skin has been horrible the past few months. I finally gave in and utilized a tip from our derm and a few experienced moms. I put 1/4 cup of bleach in my daughter's bathwater---and, it, worked. (Though I still cringe at the thought---as we did not even own bleach up until that point. That stuff is so nasty!) Her eczema is significantly better.
For lotion: we use coconut oil, olive oil, or Milk and Honey Body Lotion from Burt's Bees. Burt's Bees products are considered moderately safe by many green experts.
What not to say to an adoptive family. Oh, have my friends and I talked about this a bazillion times! An online friend posted this blog entry to her Facebook wall, and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed. If you're an adoptive parent or know an adoptive parent, please read!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Dear Readers, There will be another giveaway in the next few weeks, so keep checking back!
amberlee said...
My life as a mother? I don't remember any other life! ha. Mine is particularly awesome for me because it has SO many dimensions. I've known since I was four that I would be an adoptive mother, but I didn't actually understand what that would mean. I didn't know I could love this much. I didn't know I could feel love/pain/appreciation all at the same time for another mother that I have never met. I didn't know it could be scary. I didn't know I would miss parts of their life. I didn't understand the journey I would take to get here. I didn't understand the journey they would take to get here. I didn't get how important it was to tell their story (or at least the parts that aren't their's alone to keep).

ALL of those pieces count. ALL those pieces make me a mother. ALL those pieces make it awesome.


Amber, please send me your full name and address so I can mail you your autographed copy of Selina's book!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interview and Giveaway---Round 2!

Photo credit: Walker Esner

After my first giveaway last week, I was honored to "meet" Selina Alko (via a comment she made on my blog). Selina wrote a wonderful book called I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother, a book we purchased earlier this year that covers the beauty of an interracial couple, their son, and the new baby who is about to enter their family. What color will the baby be?

Selina graciously agreed to an interview and, yay!, my second blog giveaway!

First, the interview:

First, tell me a little about yourself---your work, your family, your hobbies.
I'm a children's book author and illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. I've always been interested in telling stories and making pictures, so creating books for children was a natural path for me. My husband is African American (also an illustrator for kids; Sean Qualls) and our children are biracial. Our 5 year old son, Isaiah, and 2 1/2 year old daughter, Ginger, are both really good at drawing, and I just love that it appears they got our art genes! Originally, I am from Vancouver, Canada, although I've lived in New York for almost 20 years. I feel that I bring a slightly Canadian perspective to my work, in that I have great enthusiasm for everything I do; an optimism that permeates my work and is reflected in my use of bright colors and jazzy juxtapositions. My illustrated books, My Subway Ride and My Taxi Ride are like love letters to New York City.

Where did you get your inspiration for your book, Peanut Butter Big Brother?
When I was pregnant with my second child I was wondering if my new baby would look like my son (then 2 years old), and I felt that kids of interracial families might have similar questions. So I wrote this book about an older child wondering and imagining what his baby brother or sister might look like. The language is really poetic and playful, which I think kids can relate to. "Will you be my vanilla bean ice-cream sibling, or super rich double chocolate fudge?" is an example of the language used and fun nature of the protagonist's questions. My son, Isaiah, is the protagonist and in the end he is rewarded with his baby sister, who does look quite a bit like her, "peanut butter big brother!"

What's next for you? I'm hoping you have something in the works! :)
I have two books coming out next year. One is an alternative to the princess pantheon for little girls called, EVERY-DAY DRESS-UP. It's about a girl who dresses up like a different, real woman from history every day of the week. Some of the Icons include: Frida Kahlo, Julia Child, Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. I am also doing my own version of an alphabet book for Brooklyn called, B IS FOR BROOKLYN. It has tons of hand-lettering and fun imagery and is all about my beloved borough here in New York.
How can my readers get to know you better?



In four days (that would be Saturday) around noon-ish (my time), I'll select (at random) and post the name of the lucky winner of an autographed copy of Selina's book, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother. You may enter the giveaway up to four times by doing the following:

1: Read over Selina's website and/or blog and tell me (via a comment to this blog post) one thing you love about her.

2: Become a follower of this blog (and leave a comment telling me so). If you're already a follower, leave me a comment telling me so. :)

3: Share with me, via a comment on this post, something awesome about your life as a mother.

4: Publish this giveaway ASAP on your own blog and/or FB wall and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

It's that easy!

If your name is posted on Saturday, you'll need to send me an e-mail within three days, at supagurlrae at hotmail dot com, with your full name and address. If the winner fails to contact me within three days, I'll draw a new winner. :)

Good luck!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A NEW Giveaway Winner...

I didn't hear from my first drawing winner, so today, I've drawn a new winner:

Kristen said...
I love Crepes by Suzette, and it was always popular with kids I was babysitting. No matter how many times I read it to them, they never tired of the "game" of finding the photo of Monica's daughter, Lydia, on each page, always incorporated into a bustling, colorful Parisian scene. This book is especially beautiful for its combination of illustrations and photos of Paris

You have three days to contact me (supagurlrae at hotmail dot com) to claim your prize! If I don't hear back, I'll draw a new winner.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Few Tidbits

My baby girl before dance class.

First, vitamin D is crucial to healthy kids (and adults), especially people with darker skin tones. See this article for more information.

Second, if you have a little brown girl, let her watch this Sesame Street video on YouTube called "I Love My Hair." It's adorable!
Third, check out my daughter's currently favorite book entitled More More More given to us on her first birthday by a lovely (and large) transracial family. Breaks my heart every time I read it!
Happy reading (and viewing)!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Wildflowergirl said...
I enjoy your blog and especially your adoption journey. I am a retired social worker who worked with all aspects of adoption throughout the years. Children and families of adoption are very dear to my heart. I would love to read 'Mr. Cookie Baker' to my new/only grandchild - may replace my favorite, 'Goodnight Moon'. Best to you and your family.

You have three days to contact me via e-mail (supagurlrae at hotmail dot com) with your full name and address.

You won two of Monica's books:

Mr. Cookie Baker and Color and Cook: Healthy Snacks

Both are autographed and ready to be shipped. :)



More giveaways to come this month! Keep checking back!

Friday, November 12, 2010


My daughter's favorite book.
Monica hard at work.

Monica creates coloring books, too!

Dear Readers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Monica Wellington, the author of my daughter's favorite book, Mr. Cookie Baker. The best part of Monica's books for our family is the beautiful illustrations which feature children of various races---not just a bunch of white kids!

Besides the diversity, what I love about Monica's books include: the vivid colors, the recipes, the simple sentences, the details in the pictures, the simple but exciting plots, and so much more! I also learned so much about Monica---she's a single mom, she's a cook and baker (yum yum!), and she's even more talented than I first understood.

At the end of the interview is information on how to win a copy of one of Monica's books! Just in time for Christmas shopping!!!

Let's get to know my daughter's hero:

I am so happy that you found my books and enjoy them together with your family, and that you have invited me to participate on your blog. I have been writing and illustrating picture books for young children for almost 25 years. Many things have changed over that time including the ways I can connect directly with readers through email, websites and blogs. Since writing and illustrating is very solitary work, it is wonderful to connect to the outside world beyond my studio with families, teachers, and librarians.

I love creating books. I love working on my own and being self-employed, never working in an office. The way of life very much suits me. I live in New York City. My studio space is in my apartment where I live. When I step outside, I am in the center of a very busy area of the city, but when I am inside my apartment, it is very quiet. I face into the center of a tree-filled block and the sounds of the birds create a buffer from the sounds of traffic. I can almost pretend I am living in the country! I have lived in NYC for 30 years.

I have a daughter. (She is now 20 and dances with New York City Ballet.) I have been a single mother since she was born. Especially when she was young I felt very lucky to be self-employed, and to be able to combine work and motherhood so easily. I was working on my books very much in the midst of all the busy activities of her young childhood. I would draw and paint when she was sleeping (during naps, and early, early in the morning before she woke up), when she was on play dates, and then when she was at school.

The book I want to highlight here, Mr Cookie Baker, was a book I wrote and illustrated when my daughter was about three. I have always loved baking and making cookies. I loved making cookies when I was little with my mother. The idea for this book came from those memories, as well as the experience of then baking with my daughter. In addition, some years before, I had worked in a bakery in NYC during the holidays. All this came together to shape the book. Mr Cookie Baker is about a busy day in the life of a baker, He makes cookies, step by step... He sells them in his shop to the neighborhood children...He finally eats a cookie himself before he goes to bed. There are just a few short sentences on each page. I didn’t say in the words where the story takes place, but in the pictures I show that it is a place like NYC, where there is great diversity: people of all skin colors and backgrounds.

I go through many stages when I work on a book. I develop the idea with little sketches, then I draw bigger more detailed sketches. I put them together into what is called a dummy: a first book in black and white. Then I plan out my colors and the overall look for the book. Painting the final pictures in color is the fun part but it is the last step of a long process that usually takes me anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the book. Here is a link to my website showing more about how I worked on Mr Cookie Baker:

Mr Cookie Baker was my first book in which I included recipes. The recipe for the decorated sugar cookies is based on my mother's recipe - I fiddled with it to make it as easy as possible. Many people have told me how much they love this recipe and that the cookies always turns out! Apple Farmer Annie, Pizza at Sally's, Crepes by Suzette all include my recipes. More recently I have worked on a series of coloring books for Dover Publications that are about cooking and include even more of my recipes. Cooking is a really fun family activity, plus children learn so many valuable skills. And of course cooking is an important part of healthy eating. One of my coloring books "Color and Cook Healthy Snacks" just won a Blueberry Award honorable mention.
In my small way I am happy if I can help encourage reading, cooking, healthy life styles, appreciation of the arts... and in my next book, an awareness of the environment. My new book is titled Gabby and Grandma Go Green and will be out in early 2011. It is about a little girl and her grandma (modeled on my own grandmother) working on a sewing project together. They make tote bags and then have a fun-filled day that’s great for the environment!

To find out more about my books visit: and
Blog Giveaway Information:
To win a copy of one of Monica's books, please leave a comment on this post telling me which of Monica's books you think your kiddo(s) would most enjoy (visit her website to explore your options) and why. I'll draw a winner and post his/her name on my blog a week from today, Friday, November 19th. The winner will then have three days to contact me (supagurlrae at hotmail dot com) with her first and last name and address. If the winner doesn't respond within three days, I'll draw a new winner.
One entry per person, please!
Good luck!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Adoption #2

Dear Readers,

We are working on our homestudy to begin our second adoption.

Here are some things I said I'd never do (listen to God laughing at me as I type this):

1: Have children close in age.

2: Have a big family.

There's one thing for sure: I'm way more laid back about adopting this time than I was the first time. I think it might be that we already have a child (we aren't waiting to become parents), I'm more educated on adoption, and I have more faith in God's plan (and my hope isn't resting in the hands of humans at an agency).

I stumbled upon this blog entry from my old adoption blog, the one I created while waiting for our first child. Reading it makes me smile. I remember how I was feeling, and I also didn't have a clue that nine days later, we'd get THE call. I think it's so important to reflect on these moments:

Thursday, October 30, 2009
Fall Is Here!

I'm loving the warmth of our gas fireplace, sipping hot tea all day long, and making soup. Last night I made s'more brownies----amazing!

I'm in "crunch season" at school. I have a continuous flow of papers to grade, e-mails from students full of questions and concerns (esp about their grades!), and the ever looming realization that I still have more planning and prepping (just when I thought I was finished!).

I'm often haunted by the upcoming holidays. We have no baby. I would LOVE to spend Christmas huddled up in our house, holding a bundled up newborn, and have guests come to us for a change. I would give up all the presents and all the celebrations for a child this year.

I don't understand God's timing right now. I hope it's made abundantly clear when our child arrives. I want to feel that this period of waiting has been validated.

Well, back to grading, prepping, and dreaming.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!!!

Candy sorting with dad after trick-or-treating.
Hmmmm....what's in here?


This is Miss E's second Halloween. Last year she was a s'more, and this year she went as a pumpkin fairy.

Her favorite part of the holiday was watching airplanes fly overhead as we walked a local neighborhood. Her least favorite part was the scary decked out houses with creepy music and adults in some horrifying costumes. I don't blame her.

Back at home, we enjoyed homemade pumpkin cheesecake and candy-sorting.
What a fun night!

Friday, October 29, 2010

On My Nightstand

I just finished another wonderful adoption book called Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption by Scott Simon (NPR host).

There are few adoption books written by men, so I wanted to be sure to check this book out so, if approved by me, could be added to my adoption resource list.

Here are some excerpts:

"[. . .] while adoption is a miracle, miracles finally take their places in our lives alongside more mundane things on our shelves and blend together. Adoption is a fact of life, not a trauma to overcome" (50).

Note: That last sentence has been rolling around in my mind for days. What do you think? Is adoption a fact of life, as the author says, and NOT a trauma to overcome?

After discussing the ways in which he and his wife embrace and integrate Chinese culture into their lives, the author shares, "But while our daughters' ethnicity is one of the first labels that can be fixed on them, it does not account for and outweigh everything else that they are" (64).

Note: I found this very interesting, because sometimes my focus is SO much on helping my daughter be as black as possible, even though she is, in some ways, white (by association). But in essence, my daughter is a person first, not a BLACK person. I work hard to make sure her hair is "right," that she knows about Rosa Parks and MLK, that we find black angels and black Santas to decorate with for Christmas, etc. And maybe these things matter, and maybe they don't matter a lot. I don't really know, but I want to try and give it a good shot. Shrug.

"Adoptions don't cut off children from learning about their culture (or, in our family's case, and millions more, cultures), lineage, or heritage. They widen the human stream that sustains heritage" (80).

Note: I love how diverse our family is, simply because of its makeup (my family, husband's family, and now our family, built through adoption), its ethnicity black-white-white-black, and its unit (different and beautiful).

"There are times when our daughters have a difficult time with change: saying goodbye, or even goodnight, moving (if even, as we have, across the street), graduating from kindergarten, or ice cream shops that suddenly run out of the sprinkles that they had counted on having. Tantrums are a time-tested way of letting the world, as well as your parents, know that you'd like to call a halt to the rotation of the earth and the momentum of history for one damn minute and make the world pay attention to you. This kind of behavior is scarcely unique to children who have been adopted. But some of these ordinary anxieties might pinch a nerve with children who feel that they have been rejected in life before they had a chance to prove how lovable they are" (128).

Note: I have done little research on international and foster care adoption, but the author's last line speaks volumes to me.

The author's wife shares with her daughter (in regards to growing up): "When you're young, you want to be like everyone else. I know. People used to make fun of my hair, my clothes, my accent [French]. But when you're older, you'll see that it's good to be different. You don't want to be like everybody else. The things that make you different make you more interesting. We went all the way around the world to get you. When you're older---just a little older---you'll realize that everything you think is a problem now is actually something good. They'll be your strong points. And you will be strong" (136-137).

Note: I haven't done as much research yet on adoptees as I would like to. This passage confused me some. (The author had previously discussed the primal wound, the idea that children who are adopted have a wound because they are not with their biological parents). I once started to read a book, a very popular book, called Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Parents Knew, and got so consumed with guilt and confusion that I took it back to the library unfinished. The book was negative (though perhaps realistic?)---stating, in sum, that adopted kids are all a little jacked from the get-go because they aren't with their biological parents. STAB to an adoptive parent's heart, because I try really hard to promote adoption openness (reading books, visiting with my daughter's birth family, promoting racial awareness, etc.)---but I realize that my efforts, no matter how well-meaning and successful, do not eradicate the fact that my daughter will always have a piece of her that is somewhere else.

"Pregnancies can be accidental," says Stephen Segaller (an adoptee). "Adoptions never are. Those of us who are adopted have every reason to feel snug and secure. Loved above and beyond, really" (149).

Note: Interesting. Clearly one person's opinion. But interesting.

"Those of us who have been adopted, or have adopted or want to adopt children, must believe in a world in which the tumblers of the universe can click in unfathomable ways that deliver strangers into our lives. The tectonic plates shift, the radiation belt springs a small hole, and children from the other side of the world, or the other side of the street, can wind up feeling utterly right in our arms" (177).

Note: I call this God. :)

As I mentioned earlier this month, I have stepped away from my beloved online adoption forum (one I was beyond addicted to) to instead learn about adoption on my own terms. This book has provided me with another tiny piece of adoption education---a place where I can challenge my beliefs, question my practices, and above all, appreciate the beautiful child I have.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adoptees in Children's Literature

Miss E (bottom left) watching Curious George and the employee/story reader

Last month, we had the opportunity to meet Curious George at Barnes and Noble. My daughter doesn't know any characters from shows (we do not allow her to watch much television), but she has a new found love for monkeys.

It dawned on me that day that Curious George is adopted by the man in the yellow hat! And this is clearly a transracial adoption of sorts!
Also, on a whim, I purchased three used videos back in March to take on vacation with us (10 hours in the car + a toddler=DVD player). One of these movies was Barnyard which turned out to be hysterical! And there was an adoption theme in the movie---TWICE!

Can you think of other adoptees in children's literature and/or movies? I'd love to explore this topic further.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Simply Divine

Friday, October 15, 2010

On My Nightstand

I am always reading adoption and diversity-related books to not only broaden my understanding but to add to my resources list to give to potential and waiting adoptive families.

The Brotherhood of Joseph: A Father's Memoir of Infertility and Adoption in the 21st Century (Brooks Hansen): I honestly do not know much about infertility beyond what friend's have shared with me. The main reason I picked up this book was to learn about adoption from a man's point of view, as so many adoption books are geared toward and written by females. I love how the author is blatantly honest and shares, "Up until this whole fertility debacle, I'd always thought of myself as being pretty successful. No rags-to-riches hero, by any stretch, but someone who'd played his fortunes well, knew how to sight some pretty ambitious goals and see them through. So this prolonged ordeal with the clinics and syringes wasn't just painful and discouraging; it pretty much defied everything I thought I knew about myself" (53).

On the topic of adoptees, the author says, "And any time I've spoken to other adopted children [outside two of his cousins who were adopted], I'm impressed by the same moral: there is no moral. There is no norm. And that is good news, I think" (86).

The author compares adoption choices, particularly the "laundry list of variables" on those dreaded "what will you accept" checklists, like "Off Track Betting" (87). He goes on to say, "A bunch of factors that, if all goes well and love prevails, will end up having very little to do with the relationship you forge with your child, he or she being an individual first, not a gender, race, expense, or some unforeseen medical condition waiting to unfold. And yet a decision must be made. You literally cannot move forward without answering these questions and putting them in order, and you can't do that without feeling terribly cheap, impatient, selfish, cowardly, or bigoted" (88).

On the topic of international adoption: "[. . .] the process of adopting from a foreign country is a little like playing poker for the first time with your drunk older cousins. The rules keep changing. You're never sure who to trust, and there's a good chance the whole thing will end in tears and scandal" (100).

In a conversation with his wife, his thoughts based on the Biblical encounter between John and John's followers, "Faith isn't something you inherit; it's not even something you feel. It's something you have to do" (169). Interesting.

I don't agree with all of Hansen's opinions on adoption, but I can appreciate his experience, which is shared in detail, and again, I'm so thankful to read something written by a man in a female-driven adoption industry.

The Sandwich Swap (Queen Rania Al Abdullah): I loved this book (written for children ages 3-7, says the inner cover)! In sum, the book is about two young girls who are best friends and do many activities together every day, including eat lunch. Though they both think the other's lunch is yucky (one has pb and j, the other a hummus sandwich). The school erupts into a food fight based on the increasing friction between the two best friends, and in the end, of course, there's a happy ending. The girls try each other's lunches and discover something new, different, and yummy! I love how this book teaches tolerance and diversity in a practical way (with cute illustrations).

The Family Book (Todd Parr): Parr's simple and humorous sentences along with bright and baby-to-child friendly illustrations make this book a hit. My favorites lines are "Some families are different colors" and "Some families adopt children."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Adoption in the Bible

...doesn't equal God's will as the adoption system is today.

I've been reading a chapter a day (well, um, mostly) from the New Testament. At the time I write this blog post, I'm in Romans where Paul mentions "adoption" a lot, referring to people being adopted by God through salvation.

I've seen in many "Dear Birthmom" letters online the concept that God loves adoption----OBVIOUSLY! If He didn't, why is the word used so many times in the Bible? What about Moses or Jesus Himself? They were adopted! Woo hoo! :)

I admit that at one time my beliefs were similar. Shamefully, I took Bible verses out of context to support my views. What I wasn't doing was examining the fact that the use of the word adoption in Scripture isn't the same as the current domestic infant adoption system in the U.S. Seems like a total "DUH," doesn't it? But if you're in the rat race to adopt a child, enveloped in a fierce baby competition, your view is a little clouded. Just a little. :)

If you're interested, here's some commentary on adoption in the Bible. I didn't read these webpages in full; however, I did skim them for general thoughts. I noticed on these pages, as I did in my Bible reading, that adoption is mostly (if not always?) a spiritual referral.

What I'm getting at is that Christian couples who are considering adoption need to examine, and I mean REALLY examine, their own hearts and the adoption system. They need to make the best choices they can because they are choosing with their dollars to support an agency or an attorney. They are voting for certain practices by writing checks (investing money) into an adoption process. It's crucial to ask tough questions, and above all, to examine one's own heart and ask God to point out areas of selfishness, entitlement, deception, misconduct, misleading, etc.

I'm blessed to have met so many women, both online and IRL, who have connected me to adoption doors I probably wouldn't have opened otherwise. I'm grateful for those who pointed out another way to look at adoption besides just the "hearts and roses" (as some of my online friends call it) version. I'm thankful for authors who blog or write books or articles that speak their adoption truths---though they may not always be right in my eyes, they create in me an urge to learn more. My daughter, my future children, my spouse, my children's birth families, the hopeful potentital adoptive mothers I meet, etc. need to encouter the best woman I can be.

When human lives and hearts are involved, there's so much on the line. I hope that today you are stirred to learn and grow in adoption as God would have you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How Much Should You Carry?

I always try to live a life of balance, though I don't usually succeed. I have a strong type A personality---persistent, demanding, controlling. I have high standards. I give my best and expect the best from others. I organize, I plan, and I execute. I follow through on my promises. And when I get hooked on a project, I'll plow through it without apology until it's completed. I seek solutions.

Some of these attributes benefit me tremendously in life, particularly with my diabetes. I'm an educated, demanding, and good patient. I don't mess around when it comes to my health. Being Miss Type A also helped me in school and in our adoption process. I had assignments (whether it they were essays or adoption self-studies) done weeks before the due date.

I'm on my game.

However, when I get hung up on something, I'm on it. Call it addiction, call it obsession, but I just call it me. Every perk has it's downside, and this is mine.

Let me explain. I have been part of an online adoption community for a few years. I have made many friends there, and I have had numerous opportunities to learn about various adoption issues, including and most importantly to me, the challenges faced by all members of the adoption triad: adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth parents. Furthermore, I facilitate and adoptive mama group and am always reading adoption books to add to my adoption resource page which I distribute to new adoptive families.

In August, after a LONG and sweltering summer (one we spent a lot of time indoors because 115+ temperatures), I was getting quite tired of my beloved online adoption community. It wasn't them; it was me. (I know, that sounds like a typical bad breakup line). Honestly, I had become emotionally attached to some of the women (many of whom, mind you, I've never even met in person) and their feelings surrounding adoption, that I was getting more and more wrapped up and jaded about this question: Can adoption ever be ok?

This question comes from me, one who doesn't believe adoption is a perfect system that creates a win-win-win situation for the adoptive family, the adoptee, and the birth parents. Someone always loses in some way. Loss is required of adoption. Adoptive families typically do not choose adoption without some sort of loss, be it fertility or the loss of something else (like my beta cells---uggggg). Birth parents lose a child, though the PC language is that they "place" their children for adoption. Adoptees lose the experience of being raised by their birth families---and they have no choice in the matter. I think it's only fair to everyone involved to recognize these losses. Adoption isn't a happy-go-lucky experience, though no doubt there are joys.

I was so overwhelmed by the emotions of others and my own conflicting feelings about adoption, that I jumped onto a new project: a book. It was to be an anthology of essays written by adoption triad members. This book was to be RAW---no adoption fluff allowed. I am a person of action---and so, I was going to do something!

I prayed that God would give me clear answer----write the book or not. After all, it would be a major commitment. I was about to start work again (43 students=lots of grading) in addition to my regular role as a mom, wife, and homemaker. Oh yes, and then I had my freelance writing, my blogs, and my volunteering. And Mommy and Me Dance class.

Being the planner I am, I generated a Call for Submissions and continued to wait on God---write the book or not? I then wrote a book introduction. And kept praying.

God never gave me a clear answer, though I felt, finally, after some careful self-analysis, that writing a book out of conflict and overwhelming emotions probably wasn't the best motivator. The book, really, was for me. I wanted something to help me sort and clarify my current adoption feelings.

I have been setting my book project aside----maybe forever, maybe not. As I write this blog post, I've also been taking a much-needed break from my online adoption community. As always, I do have a stack of books on my nightstand, half of which are adoption-related. I can't bring myself to stop learning about adoption. I'm also planning our next adoptive mama meeting. My daughter deserves an adoption-educated mommy. And I need to know what the heck I'm doing as an adoptive parent.

It's funny because my everyday life has little-to-nothing to do with adoption. I eat, I workout, I play with my daughter, I go to work, I make dinner, I hang out with my husband, I go to bed. But there is always a lingering thought tucked away in the back of my mind. A new concern or question.

I get frustrated with myself at times. I do enjoy my family, every single day, but I also never forget that adoption is pretty messed up sometimes.

I question:

How much "adoption" should I carry with me every day?

Does God ever will that an adoption happen?

Is is mostly always best that birth parents and their children stay together?

Can a birth mother ever be confident in her decision to place her baby? Can she ever be truly happy with that choice?

Should adoptive families adopt and move forward, never lingering in "what ifs" and conflicting thoughts?

What is the best balance for the adoptee? How should adoption be presented to the child?

I don't want to put on an ignorant Christian coat and go along my merry little way, believing, as many Christians claim, that Jesus LOVES adoption PERIOD. People matter to God. All people. Not just the wants of adoptive parents to become parents.

However, I'm realizing more and more that even though there are seasons to any person's life (Ecclesiastes 3:1), adoptive parents like myself need to keep perspective, which is best stated in Philippians 4:

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I am working on focusing on what is "true," "noble," "right," "pure," "lovely," and "admirable." That doesn't mean I'm dismissing the hardships and imperfections in the adoption system. This doesn't mean I won't have moments of heartache for my child's birth mother (and for any birth mother) or be ever mindful of their pain. What this does mean is that first and foremost, I do have peace about our adoption situation and I know God's hand was in it. I know that I need to guard my heart and mind (v.7). I need to be thankful and give my anxious thoughts and feelings to the One. All the fretting in the world, all the anxiousness, all the negativity---what does it breed other than more problems?

I thought writing a book would book would be the best option for my adoption questions and conflicts, but I'm learning that reading THE Book is a much better choice.

Readers, I hope you are continuously learning about adoption. I hope to never cease to be a student. But I also hope you are living Philippians 4:6-8. The message is rather simple: be thankful, meditate on the good, and by all means, give whatever your struggles are to God. When you do these things, God promises you peace that surpasses all understanding (7).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get Your Shop On!

Christmas is just a few months away, and if you're like me, shopping early is not only fun (no huge crowds) but pays off financially (better deals). However, if you don't like to hit the shops in person, check out these websites for brown-kid (and other races/ethnicities) friendly goods:

Kisha's Kids Beautiful products with a vintage look for AA kids---including books, decor, dolls, clothing, and more! If you register with them, they'll send you a 15% off coupon.

eeboo Features a variety of products, including a matching game that features children of different races and ethnicities.

To find a variety of brown baby dolls, please visit this previous post of mine for links. This post features some of the deals I got in summer on brown baby dolls that you might try searching for.

I would love to find a place where I can buy individual people (like for a dollhouse) so I can create our family. I only see sets everywhere that are either all white family members or all brown (which is supposed to represent every other race, I guess?!?). Suggestions would be appreciated!

Happy shopping, and please let me know your favorite places so I can pass those resources on to my readers!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


My Willow Tree Angel (and baby) got a makeover thanks to a friend who is also a white mama with a brown baby. She gave me the perfect shade of paint to turn the white baby into a brown baby.

Being a transracial family is all about adjusting.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Post-Adoption Support for Adoptive Families

A poster on an online adoption forum I frequent recently asked what an adoptive parent does to find support post-adoption.

I decided shortly after we adopted our daughter to initiate an adoptive mama group. The group started at my church, and our goal was to have Adoption Triad Sunday, a Sunday where the music, sermon, and readings all focused on adoption (and adoption education) while showing support and love for all members of the adoption triad: biological parents and their families, adoptees, and adoptive families. After that event took place near Mother's Day in 2009 and the group's goal met, we evolved into a group of mothers who met once a month at a local cafe to talk about adoption.

Our group now consists of mothers who have adopted through foster care, domestic infant adoption, and international adoption. Our families are made up of children from various countries and states, various races and ethnicities, different biological family makeups, different levels of communication openness, and more. It's a lovely, diverse, quirky group. We laugh, we nod, we gasp, we advise, we acknowledge, we mourn, we brag, we inform. The group, in a word, is simply fabulous.

Meeting with other adoptive mothers has been a huge blessing in my life, but I also have worked hard to pursue post-adoption support in other ways, including:

1: Conversing with women who have placed children for adoption.

2: Keeping in touch with our social worker.

3: Reading adoption articles, books, blogs, and online forums.

4: Getting together with other adoptive families.

Adoption is like anything else in life: when you fail to evolve and learn, you fail to change. And when you fail to change, you find yourself in an unhealthy rut.

What can you do, as someone who is involved in adoption, to cultivate support in your life and in the lives of others? What's stopping you from evolving, and how can you push past those obstacles?


"You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, September 13, 2010

Adoption Blogs

There's some controversy in the adoption world regarding adoption-related blogs. What's appropriate to include? What's not? Are adoption blogs even a good idea? Is exposing private details publicly a benefit or a hindrance to readers?

I have my own reservations at times about having this blog for a few reasons. First, I don't want to write anything that will ever hurt my child. I don't want her to feel that I turned her life into a stage, even though this blog is about transracial adoption and not just our family. Second, I don't want to ever hurt our daughter's biological family in any way. Third, I may just be getting it ALL wrong, and it's all here, in the open air, for anyone to watch me fail.

However, I was born to write. New ideas for blog entries pop into my head daily. Having a blog allows me total control over the content and presentation of my ideas. I do write articles; however, what gets published, when, and the exact wording is ultimately in the hands of my editors, not me.

Rosalynn Carter said, "You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through."

A public blog opens one up to the opinions of others. Not every reader is a fan. And when one is blogging about his or her family, well, that's personal, and to have a reader critique that person's view and understanding of family, well, that's REALLY personal.

I have several friends who write blogs about their families, and several of these families are brought together through adoption. And, of course, that means that the child in the family has biological parents, ones who could read the blog or even be written about.

I've set up some personal guidelines for myself when blogging about my family:

1: I will not disclose any personal details about my child's biological family members, including their names, ages, locations, etc.

2: I will not disclose any intimate details about my daughter's adoption including the circumstances of her placement, her birth name, the promises we made to her biological mother, etc.

3: I won't post pictures of my daughter's biological family.

4: And for now, I do not post pictures of my daughter's face. Many have asked me why, and my reasoning is that I do not wish, if my daughter's biological family finds this blog, for them to see a photo of their family member's face on a blog before they have a chance to own that photograph when we send them updates on our daughter. For me, it's a matter of respect for my daughter's biological family.

5: When we adopt again, I will not post any specific details of situations we are being considered for out of respect for the expectant/biological parents.

I have commented on a few adoption blogs that I've connected with (friends of friends of friends) who break some of these rules. I'm nice, but I'm honest. I state what I believe the offense is and why I feel that way---but always with compassion and kindness, because adoptive families are a bundle of mixed emotions.

My main message: It's better to be too private---because once the information is out there, it's out there forever. There are no take backs or re dos.

Matthew 12: 33-37:
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart[g] brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thoughts and Doubts and Questions and Guilt Trips---Oh My!

I remember thinking during the first few months we had our daughter, is she happy?

After all, we took her from her biological mother---the woman she knew for the first thirty-nine weeks of life. Yes, we were chosen to be E's parents, and yes, we were good parents, but that didn't change the fact that I had some guilt about the situation.

Furthermore, would our daughter some day resent us because of our race? Would she be teased for her funny looking family? Would she be deemed as not "black enough" to be accepted by her own race because she's rasied by two white people? I recall one of my black students wrote a story about how was teased by some of her black peers who said she was an "Oreo" for living in a mostly white neighborhood and speaking proper English. The story hurt my heart and haunted me.

Being a new mom is a challenge, and being a new mom through adoption, a transracial adoption, was even more daunting. How would I do everything right so I wouldn't royally screw up my child?

I don't know why I entertained these thoughts and doubts and questions and guilt trips. After all, we did what we felt was ok by God to do---adopt. We used an ethical agency, entered into what we believe to be a God-blessed and orchestrated adoption, and we did nothing shady to "secure" a baby. We kept and still do, every promise we made/make to our child's biological family. We read adoption books constantly and keep adoption as a free flowing topic in our household.

My daughter is now nearly two years old, and it's funny how many times I forget that she's adopted and that we aren't the same color. She's just my normal, and I'm her normal. I'm not the same mama I was when E was first placed in my arms. But that doesn't mean I can stop learning. There will be challenges ahead.

I have no idea what questions she'll have for me in the future or how I'll respond. I hope I'll respond in honesty (even if it means "I don't know"), compassion, love, and grace. I hope that she'll know that I don't have all the answers, but I'll do my job as best I can---to love her, honor her, respect her, and support her.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Profile Books

For those who don't know, a profile book is almost always used in domestic infant adoption. It consists of a letter to an expectant mother, photos of the adoptive family, and sometimes captions and/or facts about them and their lives.

Currently I'm working on printing all of the letters we've sent to Miss E's biological mother and putting them in a 3-ring binder. I went to our adoption file to retrieve a few documents and out slid several copies of our profile book.

My husband came into the home office to ask me a question and saw the profile book, picked it up, and said, "Oh. Here's the 'give me your baby' book."

We both laughed a little. Not because it's really funny (we are not out to snag a child like a prowler) but because the truth is, the profile book is a necessary evil in adoption (as the system is set up currently).

The absolute hardest thing for me in the preparing-to-adopt process was filling out the checklist of what we were and were not open to. This included medical, racial, communication, sex, etc. openness. It was so hard to check boxes when we knew we were making decisions about a child---a real person.

The second hardest thing was the letter and the profile. As a writer, I wanted a perfect letter---one that was honest, heartfelt, and well-written. The profile was an extension of the letter---photographs, captions, and "facts" pages.

Every adoptive family wants to put their "best foot forward" in their profiles. How can we not? Adoption sometimes feels like a competition. Furthermore, adoptive families are on a pedestal. Many believe we "save" children who "need a good home." Even if we don't believe that, even though we know we are the lucky ones as the child's chosen parents, there's still that lingering feeling that we have to live up to a nearly perfect standard. Gulp!

It probably starts with being investigated and interviewed early on in the adoption process. It's invasive, even when I've done nothing legally wrong in my life (except one ticket when I was in my early twenties for "failure to reduce speed" when I rear-ended someone), getting fingerprinted in the interrogation room at the state police department was intimidating. We had to answer questions about our childhoods, our sex life (yeah----that's another post), our religious beliefs, our discipline methods, etc. Nothing was off limits. Our life was an open book. That's the red tape. You want to pass all the hurdles with flying colors. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

I know now much more than I did when we first started, and I know that no matter what I put in the profile and in the letter, God's plan will prevail for our family. No human hand can mess up God's will.

BUT, I know that we adopt again, and it comes time to create the dreaded profile, I will agonize over each photo, each caption, and each word in our letter. I will wonder if I'm being as honest as I should, if I should delete or add information, if I should be more or less detailed.

I'm pretty proud (maybe that's not appropriate to say...I don't know) of our first profile book. Not because we were chosen and became parents, but because I think it's accurate and honest.

I was tortured over my decision of whether or not to include the fact that we are adopting because I have type I diabetes. I was so scared no expectant mom would ever choose us because diabetes is a scary word that conjures up images of amputees and obese people and needles. Lots of needles. BUt in the end, after feeling convicted to be honest, we included a lengthy paragraph in our profile about my disease.

I also didn't want to say the typical blah-blah-blah (empty nonsense) like "Dear Birthmother, Thank you for choosing life for your baby. You are so brave. We should fall down and worship you." (Ok, so omit the last sentence, but the letters are really that drippy and horribly tacky. Look for yourself on an adoption agency's website under parent profiles. Be prepared to be bored by reading essentially the same letter over and over. The only amusement is the variety of photos people include. Think about horrible Christmas sweaters, poorly posed-formal portraits, and people hugging their dogs, their "babies," as they wait for their human babies to arrive.")

I don't know exactly what our next profile book will contain, but I got a great list of ideas from an online friend. I'd like to share that with you in a future post, so that if you are jumping into domestic infant adoption, you'll have something new to go off of than "Thank you for choosing life for your precious, darling, adorable, baby who will be our gift from God." Eyeroll.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fall INTO Fall

Dear Bloggers,

It’s hard to believe that the summer season is quickly ending. If you’re anything like me, you’re ready for change.

Fall more in love with reading this fall. Embrace the new season with a refreshed mindset. Learn to open your mind and heart to something and someone new while supporting fellow bloggers.

The goal: Promote your favorite blogs by writing about them on your own blog. Link your readers to the bloggers who inspire and empower you. Interview other bloggers if you wish. Share your favorite posts. Cultivate a season of refreshed minds!

Fall Into Fall begins September 1st and continues until November 15th. Feel free to cut and paste pieces of this message into your blog. And be sure to tell your favorite bloggers that you are sharing their blogs with others. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor!

Happy reading, and let’s get to writing and celebrating!


Saturday, August 28, 2010


Where I go, you go.

Where I am, you want to be.

What I say, you repeat.

What I do, you do, too.
I am your mommy.
You are my baby.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A One-Liner

Adoptive parents take various approaches to responding to nosy questions and aggressive or judgemental comments.

A reader wrote in to Ann Kearney-Cooke, a member of SHAPE's advisory board, in the August 2010 issue of Shape (34). The reader said:

"My mom keeps making remarks about the extra pounds I'm still carrying after having a baby last year. How do I get her to leave me alone?"

Kearney-Cooke's response was a few paragraphs long, but one part in particular stuck out to me. She suggested the reader respond to her mother's comments by saying, "And you're saying this because...?"

The reason this response works well, according the advisor, is that "you shift the burden of explanation back" to the person asking the question/making the comment.


Maybe I'll try this in the future when facing another nosy, judgemental, or condescending comment or question regarding adoption.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Discipline 101

I got, before I was a parent, that toddlers could be a challenge. I also understood that the "terrible 2's" could start before age two and continue into the pre-k years. I have worked as a babysitter, day care employee, nanny, children's ministry director, Sunday school substitute, Bible School worker, etc. I have, for much of my life, worked with kids.

Now that I have my own child and she is well into her toddlerhood, I have begun to face new challenges. She always was an easy baby---good eater, great sleeper, content to play independently, obedient, and happy. She's still very much the same girl except now, she's stepped up her game and added a new twist---challenger!

Here's how it goes. Miss E decides to bite. We say, "No biting. Biting is naughty." So instead attempting to bite again, she pinches. We say, "No pinching. Pinching is naughty." So then she proceeds with trick #3 (out of her bag of tricks): hitting. Or if it's my husband, face squeezing. (She reserves this trick just for him; we have no idea why).

So, what to do? She's smart enough not to do the same naughty thing twice.

I ordered several discipline/parenting books from my local library in an attempt to broaden my horizons. And the truth is, I'm more confused reading them that I was before! (And honestly, all the parenting info seems to make one's self-esteem plummet---and I'm not sure how that's effective).

You see, so much of parenting to me is common sense. But I get that common sense to me comes from the fact that one, I'm the oldest of three kids and was a little Mommy since I was three, and two, I've worked with kids for as long as I can remember.

But I had to remind myself that perhaps I was missing something, or perhaps there was a new breakthrough method of discipline that I hadn't experienced yet. So armed with my stacks of books, I sat in my bed night after night, pouring over their contents and pondering the author's "expert" advice.

First up was Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay. This book annoyed me from the start. Basically, the authors talk about giving kids lots of choices to help them have power, or something like that. I agree with giving little ones choices, like which color of plate they want or if they'd like to swing or go down the slide, but the number and extent of choices the authors suggested were ridiculous. They do talk about responsibility and letting kids be independent---great. They also talk about having an "uh oh" song...or something like that. Ok, I'm so NOT into songs---like the "clean up" song from Barney. What a nightmare. Plus, this book contains too many "steps" and charts. I want simple and direct. When my child doesn't obey, I don't want to have to pull out the manual, find the right page, and read a chart and ten steps before initiating discipline.

My second read was 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan. The concept is rather simple. The child does an action that isn't appropriate, and the parent says, "Sue, no throwing your toy train. That's one." The child does it again and the parent simply says, "That's two." If the child gets to three, there is a punishment. Either taking the toy away, a time out, or something else. My argument here is that I'm not sure kids should get three chances to disobey. But I love that there is no arguing, no constant reminders, no threats, no emotional responses, no exaggerated reactions---just counting and punishment. I did implement the 1-2-3 idea for just one day, and my daughter caught on right away. The simplicity of the method is fantastic for little ones and parents. But counting has always annoyed maybe that's why I'm struggling to jump on the "magic" train.

Then there's Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman. He talks a lot about birth order and a child's personality. He explains that there is a difference between being authoritative and being an authoritarian. He uses Bible verses to support his views, which I appreciate. But again, so much of what is shared seems like common sense. I have a few little sections flagged, but thus far, nothing monumental has been revealed to me.

Next I began to read Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel. I love how she has a chapter of examples and explanations followed by a chapter called a "Toolbox"---basically ideas on how to apply her thoughts into everyday parenting situations. I appreciate, like with Leman's book, Bible verse references. However, some of Lisa's "creative" corrections seem rather extreme. For example, if a child slams a bedroom door, he or she should be made to open and shut the door nicely one hundred times. I remember slamming my door as a teenager, and though I'm sure it infuriated my mom, I also think the physical act was a good release for me, it didn't hurt anyone, and I got the chance to then sit in my room and chill out for a few hours, think about what was said, reflect, get over it, apologize to my parents, and then move on. I don't think every act of defiance needs to be punished and/or punished creatively.

Oh, and also, many of these books use various words for punishment. Lisa uses "correction." I think Leman uses "discipline." And so forth. But really, I find this to be a matter of semantics, though they argue it is not.

I also think punishment needs to be consistent for little ones. I don't want to find a "creative correction" each situation---mostly because I believe little children need consistent, expected results for bad behavior. I think creative corrections might work better for older kids, but for little ones, consistent and practical seems to work best.

For us, time outs do work. I think it was Leman or maybe Phelan who said time outs are great because really, kids sometimes just need time to chill out. An all out punishment, a yell from mom and dad, or whatever, rarely helps (it's actually selfish on mom and dad's part because it's for them to release anger, not to help the child)---when the kid just needs a few moments to get it together.

The authors each have their reasons and rules regarding spanking. Though they are interesting to read, it's an age-old argument. To spank or not? What is spanking? How and when to spank? Where to spank? Blah blah blah. They dissect the whole "spare the rod" Bible verse. BORING.

I have tried to have an open mind while reading these books. In fact, I was almost giddy to find THE answer to toddler discipline. I should have known that when there are hundreds of books on the subject, an answer isn't going to be found. (Each book had it's good points, but they were often buried in so much other advice and opinion, that the good parts get lost).

Having a toddler is a challenge. Some days are serene and sweet. Some days are chaotic, inconsistent, and frustrating. But what's so great is that children are forgiving. Even when parents do not discipline the perfect way, the child usually gets the message (the action wasn't good), shows some remorse, and moves on. Meanwhile, parents can reflect on what does and doesn't work, adjust accordingly, and move on.

So for now, I'm going to just do what works and adapt when whatever that "what works" is loses it's power. And I'm going to hopefully keep reading what the best parenting book is of all---The Bible. Because I know if I'm walking with God as I should everything else will fall into place.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Star of The Show

Miss E, at a local park

Miss E is an only child right now, and yep, she is the star of the show. Our world essentially revolves around her. I know it's not supposed to (saith the parenting experts), but realistically, toddlers are demanding---sometimes purposefully, sometimes not. Now that's not to say our daughter "rules the roost" because she's a little princess (although I do, gulp, call her "Princess" sometimes....), but instead because we feel that we only have one child once, and it's our joy to give her our attention, our affection, and our praise.

I have no idea right now when we'll begin our adoption process again. Sometimes I hear of "situations" (for lack of a better word) where a child might be available for adoption, and my heart leaps.

I tell myself many things. First, that a child needs a home. (In the case of domestic infant adoption of children of color, need can be an accurate description---because there are much fewer families open to children of color than families open to children who are white).

Second, that we have a home---a happy, healthy home.

Third, we have the money to go through the process. Thank you, adoption tax credit!

Fourth, we have the heart for adoption. We want to adopt again. We are educated on adoption.

Fifth, Miss E loves babies---toy babies or real babies. She points out babies when we are out shopping, yelling out, "BOBBY!!!" (baby). She recently went down the bottom shelf at Target, kissing every single baby doll on the face and grinning. In June we had our first interim care infant, and Miss E was constantly loving on her and "holding" her (with assistance---MAJOR assistance---of course). When the baby cried on afternoon in hunger, Miss E got the saddest look on her face, wanting to make the baby all better.

BUT....after a few breathtaking moments where I'm decorating a second nursery in my mind and generating name combinations, I realize how happy and whole we are right now. We have a CALM life right now. I know the switch from one child to two will be dramatic, life-altering, and chaotic at times. Yes, there will be sweet moments and happy seasons; however, there will also be many days when I'm going to want to pull my hair out. Am I ready for the challenge of two kids?

Contrary to what most moms say, I WAS ready to be a mom for the first time. I didn't feel uncertain. I was confident and ready.

But this time? Well, I think it's just not our season yet.

The very thought of mountains of paperwork, homestudy interviews, writing check and check, and the worse, waiting, is something I'm not sure I want to delve into in this season of our lives.
However, my heart aches for mothers planning to place their children for adoption who do not have many profiles to choose from. They don't have options, because many families aren't open to their brown babies. I want those moms to have options. But I know that we shouldn't jump into an adoption process in an attempt to possibly better one person's situation. To me, that's not a good reason.

I hope that when the time is right, we will clearly know it and will proceed, as I did with our first adoption, with complete excitement and anticipation.

Meanwhile, I'm going to keep enjoying our "life's a stage" moments, watching the Princess do her cool tricks while we stand right by her, cheering, clapping, and relishing.