I contacted the author, Amy Ford, who graciously granted me an interview AND a copy of her book to giveaway to one lucky reader of my blog.
Tell me about yourself (your job, your hobbies, your life in general, and of course, your kids! I'd love to know your kids' names and ages, and how they came to your family).
Wow. This is a big question. I am a mother, an author, and an adoption advocate. I spent 16 years as a professional travel planner before throwing myself head first into full time parenthood. While I no longer have a traditional J-O-B, I spend my days promoting the book, facilitating workshops on transracial parenting, and speak to parenting groups around Texas on the importance of honoring our children's heritage. In order to fund the life we have grown accustomed to, I do in home jewelry parties for Jewels by Park Lane. Park Lane allows me to work flexible hours, make a great commission, and I spend my days dripping in jewels while carpooling, hauling trash, and running errands.
My partner, Kim, and I decided to create a family through adoption since her family of origin is comprised of biological, adopted, and foster children. Kim comes from a big Catholic family in Chicago. When her parents were told it was not possible to conceive children of their own, Kim's parents adopted 2 children through Catholic charities. They also become foster parents to a son who was never able to be adopted. When Kim's mother was 30, she gave birth to a daughter. Eight years later what she thought was the flu was actually Kim - biological daughter #2.
So Kim and I figured this was the way we would create our own family. We became licensed foster parents in Austin in 2002. Madison was our second placement and is our oldest daughter. She was placed in our home at 13 days old. Maddie is 8 years old and in the 2nd grade. McKenzie, age 5, is now in kindergarten and came home to us at 17 months old. Morgan, age 2, is McKenzie's biological sister and came home to us directly from the hospital. My children are 2 years, 3 months, and 2 days part apart. All 3. Yep. Let that sink in.
On the rare occasion I have leisure time, I love to knit - maybe too much. It is a huge de-stresser for me and I love it. I can't make anything with shape but I can create blankets of varying sizes and scarves. I also love to read, go to the movies, and travel.
Why did you decide to write your book?
I wrote Brown Babies Pink Parents to share with other parents the lessons I never learned in preparing to be the mother of African American children. When we became foster parents, it never occurred to me that we would parent so many African American children. I had no idea how to comb hair or care for skin. You should have seen me slathering babies in Johnson & Johnson lotion every time I changed a diaper and wondering, "Why isn't this working?" I knew I needed to incorporate people of color into our life but I had no idea how to do that. I had no idea how to teach my daughter how to be black in America. There was no instruction manual! I read every book I could find on transracial parenting and they all seemed to be written by social workers, therapists, or bitter adoptees. After reading all of these, I still didn't know how to comb hair or how to connect to the black community. Somebody needed to write a book and somebody turned out to be me.
The message of the book is love. I love my children more than I do the next breath I am going to draw. I recognized early on that I didn't have the necessary life skills to teach my kids the lessons they would have to learn in order to successfully navigate this world. I love them with every cell in my body, but love is not enough. More is required of me. White parents can raise black children, but it requires reaching beyond our comfort zone.
I have been asked why we didn't adopt one of "our own" (meaning a white baby). If someone were to ask you that question, how would you respond?
I love the ones God gave me to love.
What's one important lesson your children have taught you?
Just one? That's tough. My kids have taught me, and continue to teach me, that I don't have to know everything or have it all figured out. I don't need to have a ready answer or the right thing to say. I just have to show up and be in the moment with them.
What's coming up for you? Can we expect another book?
I don't know about another book yet. Something in my gut says yes, but I have no idea what it will be. I can tell you my #1 priority these days is to take the message of transracial parenting to the national level by growing our non-profit organization, Parenting Across Color (http://parentingacrosscolor.com/). Since the book launched, I have received dozens of requests for a local support group like the one we have in Austin. Parenting Across Color began as a local parenting group but we have since incorporated and gained tax exempt status. We are actually in conversation with an NFL player who was transracially adopted to become the national spokesperson for PAC. This is such an exciting time for PAC and every day brings something new. Stay tuned!