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

Makeover


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!

Rachel
 
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