Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Multicultural Families Website + Awesome Article

The editor of this website contacted me and asked me to write for them.  What a fantastic resource this site is for multicultural families!  Happy reading!

I love this article on the Adoptive Families website on choosing a school for your child who was adopted transracially. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Giveaway: $15 Gift Card to an Etsy Shop (That Promotes Adoption)

I met Heidi on Etsy, one of my favorite online stores!   She's giving away a $15 gift certificate to her Etsy shop to one lucky WSBS reader.    (She sent a yellow and pink version of this lovely tee to Miss E---how sweet!)

Meet Heidi:

I am a child of The King, wife, mom, RN, junior high teacher, fifth grade teacher, kindergarten teacher, embroiderer, digitizer and business owner.   In between housework, cooking, errand running, designing and stitching, I sneak up on my kids and try to impart knowledge without them thinking I am teaching them. My 13-year-old daughter sometimes whispers to my 11-year-old son, "Watch out, here comes a Sneak Attack."

I have been known to stay in my studio through lunch and start making dinner at 7pm. I don't always have anything to show for my time in there. Sometimes I just sit and stare at thread or fabric and let the colors sink into my soul.

My first "sewing" machine was a six-needle industrial embroidery machine that I had been drooling over for 5 years. Every new model that came out heightened my desire to own one. Since that purchase in May of 2010, I have branched out to a ten-needle machine and a little (actual) sewing machine. One of the conditions of purchase was that the machine would pay for itself. I opened an Etsy store on the advice of some friends.

My first project ever was a baby shower gift for a friend expecting a baby on paper from Ethiopia. My machine hadn’t been delivered to the store, yet, so they offered to let me use their display model. There I was, stitching a baby onesie with “Love Brought Home” and cloth diapers with “We brought love home.” in a sewing machine store. Customers and employees asked what I was doing. I loved getting the word out about adopting from Ethiopia. I’ll always wonder what seeds took root that day.

I’ve stitched many baby items with the Heart over Africa design and Worth the Wait. Adoption has been around me most of my adult life. We haven’t adopted--yet. I have been so tickled to be able to support my friends with cute clothes stitched with adoption themed designs.

My Etsy shop, named The Blissful Stitcher, is an assortment of experiments. I am constantly trying new things and stretching the boundaries of my experience. I have a couple of superb computer programs that I use to digitize designs and an inventory of thousands of designs from various sources. My blog and my Facebook page show an assortment of custom items to spark the imagination of a future customer.

Giveaway Begins:  Monday, August 29th.

Giveaway Ends:  Friday, September 2nd, at noon (CST).

Giveaway Item:   $15 gift certificate to Heidi's Etsy shop.

How to enter (up to five times!): 
1:   Visit Heidi's Etsy shop and tell me which item is your favorite via a comment.
2:  Become a fan of White Sugar, Brown Sugar on Facebook, and leave me a comment telling me you did so. 
3:  Become a follower of my blog, and tell me you did so via a comment.
4:  Vote for my blog in the Parents' contest (see hot pink button on the right of my blog), and leave me a comment telling me you did so. 
5:  Promote this giveaway on Facebook, and leave me a comment telling me you did so. 

A winner will be posted after 12:00 p.m. (Central Standard Time) on Sept 2.    It is the winner's responsibility to set up an Etsy account (free), and contact Heidi to claim her prize.

Thank you to Heidi for her generosity! 

Friday, August 26, 2011

FORGET IT FRIDAYS

After a nine month break (maternity leave, if you will) from work, I've return to teaching part-time.   The change is most welcome.   

Now, with this change comes the need for a stricter schedule for my family and myself in order to make sure everything gets accomplished during the week that is necessary---laundry, grocery shopping, etc.

So, Mondays-Thursdays are designated for work, errands, chores, and preschool and ballet/tap class for Miss E starting in early September.  But Fridays...

well, I am starting a new tradition.  

FORGET IT FRIDAYS.

This is a day of minimal chores and plenty of fun!

For our first FIF, which occurred on August 19th, we swam in the big pool, then played in the little pool.  We came in for a leisurely snack followed by a toenail and nail painting session along with my daughter's current favorite DVD.    Next was lunch, naps for all, and then an evening of doing whatever was fun---a stop at the bookstore and craft store, dinner out.  

If you can designate a whole day to "forget it," consider a forget it afternoon a week.   Do whatever relaxes and refreshes you and your family.  Create a budget for the "forget it" time if you want to shop, do an activity, or go out for a meal or snack.

The point is to create a family time to look forward to in the midst of a crazy week.  

What are your forget it ideas?  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Do White People Adopt Kids of Color?

My latest post on My Brown Baby explains my family's stance on this important issue. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Frustrating, To Say The Least: A White Mama (of Two Brown Girls) Rant & Suggestions

Birthday cards at Wal-Mart. All the kids are white!

Barbie dolls at Kohl's----the only brown doll was a Princess Tiana doll.



I know people like to say they are colorblind, or that race doesn't matter, or that the world is a melting pot. Those are all really fluffy, happy-go-lucky, Utopian ideas. Because every time I go to buy my girls a toy, or a t-shirt, or a greeting card for their birthdays, I get frustrated all over again. Where are the items for brown kids? Yes, besides the ONE Princess Tiana birthday card. (Though I do appreciate that Disney FINALLY had an AA Princess, my daughter can hardly watch most of the movie because of all the demonic, scary scenes). (I recommend checking out some of my readers' comments here).

My dear friend adopted an AA boy last fall. She has tried to find him an AA boy doll. I did some hunting for her, and all I could find was a $70 Cabbage Patch Doll. Ridiculous!


It's also frustrating that there aren't many popular AA characters beyond Princess Tiana. There are a few shows like Little Bill (featuring an AA boy) or Dora (featuring a Hispanic girl and boy), but most of the time, any AA characters (in kids' films or adult films) are sidekicks---usually the "cool black" person who supports the white hero.


Seems like I have to dig and dig and dig (literally, through shelves of items at a store) to find AA toys, cards, etc. And most of the time (I guess good for my piggy bank...) the items are in clearance (because they don't sell?). Several times, I've had items custom made for my girls, like their Christmas stockings.


What can you do to help your child of color?

1: Buy toys, clothing items, and cards (in advance if you have to---like this matching game I got my girls when I found it in clearance for $5! at a specialty toy shop) of items that feature people who look like them.

2: Support companies that sell items that feature kids of all colors. Some of my favorite companies (selected items featured) include: Melissa and Doug, EEBoo (see matching game in item 1), CP Toys, Hallmark, & Cracker Barrel. Here's a previous blog post with more links. I also recommend searching Etsy. Many sellers, like this one, will custom make items to your specifications---including skin tone and hair color. I have found Etsy sellers to generally be very accommodating and supportive. In the past, Pottery Barn jewelry boxes came with a white ballerina and a brown ballerina, allowing the buyer to choose the featured girl. :) This company claims to have the biggest selection of AA books. You can also search this site.

3: Write a short e/m of appreciation to companies that sell items that feature kids who look like yours. Carter's has consistently featured children of all races on their clothing lines.

4: Write a short e/m to companies you love (I'm a Gymboree fan) that need to do a better job featuring kids of all colors. Tell them you love their products, but they need to do a better job representing children of all races, not just white kids.

5: Suggest books and videos to your local library that feature characters of various races and history books that support your child's racial background.

6: Consider buying books and toys to donate to your library, your child's school, etc. that feature children of different races. Additionally, you can buy adoption books for these institutions.


(If you're a mother of white children, that doesn't mean you're off the hook. ;) Buy multi-racial items for them).


If you have more tips, favorite companies, etc., please leave a comment so my readers can benefit!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Follow WS, BS on Facebook!

You can now find White Sugar, Brown Sugar on Facebook!   By liking WS, BS, you'll be updated on blog posts, adoption news, and more.   You can also interact with me and my readers.   :)  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adopting Children With Special Needs: Amber's Story

I'll admit, medical needs terrify me as an adoptive parent. As a person who already has plenty of medical needs, the idea of compounding medical needs is scary.

That's why I think I try to surround myself with people who are willing to step out on faith and adopt the child God has for them. I need to learn from these individuals and couples.

I first met Amber on an online adoption forum several years ago. A few years into our online friendship, I got to meet her and several other adoptive mamas in person while my family was on vacation. Amber is down-to-earth, beautiful, and dedicated to God. She has one biological daughter and twins, one boy and one girl, whom she and her husband adopted. I'm honored to share her story with you.

Me: Tell me about your family.

Amber: We are a military family with three children at home. Layla (7), Brynn (4), and Cale (4); and one more waiting for us in Eastern Europe- Anna Gray (4 months). My husband and I have been married for just over 8 years. Our days are filled with dance parties, truck races, baking cupcakes, and lots of giggles!

Me: How has adoption touched your life?

Amber: I knew I wanted to adopt at 4-years-old, I just didn't know WHY until I actually did it. Our oldest daughter is biological, but our twins were adopted domestically as infants and of course, we are doing an international adoption to bring Anna Gray home. Hearing God's voice, believing Him when He spoke, and watching him follow through with His Word has strengthened our faith in ways we could have never imagined. That's our purpose- to Glorify God- He's just using adoption to teach us.

Me: Tell me how you connected to your future daughter, Anna.

Amber: We were in the beginning stages of preparing another domestic infant adoption when we were introduced to Reece's Rainbow. Reece's Rainbow is an orphan ministry specifically for children with Down Syndrome. I curiously looked through the pages of waiting children online when I saw Anna Gray, and my heart leaped. Even our children immediately said, "When is she coming home?" the second they saw her. We took some time to pray about it and repeatedly got the same answer- go get her. Our son said he asked God to bring him a baby with a mohawk... and He did! We are knee-deep in paperwork right now, having just started our dossier. We will spend the next few months trying to cross our T's and dot our I's, learning about a life with Down Syndrome, and raising the necessary funds to bring her home. Since this wasn't OUR plan, we have a lot of work to do! If all goes well, she should be home just after Christmas!

Me: What does your family need right now?

Amber: We will always welcome any prayer support! Prayers that Annie's needs are being cared for while she waits for us, prayers that we get through the process without too many bumps in the road, prayers that we are financially prepared for this unexpected gift. For those that feel led to give financially, we are so, so grateful.

Me: What do you want to share with my readers about adoption?

Amber: When we first found out about the twins, the connection we felt to them terrified us. WE hadn't planned on adopting TWO babies at once. We hadn't saved enough money, we were overwhelmed by the unknown. After praying for guidance, our preacher stopped in the middle of his sermon to speak to "the one God is trying to reach". He used adoption as an example and said, "Sometimes God wants to take you in a direction you didn't plan for. Yes, it's scary and I know you don't think you can do it, but He's telling you that you CAN. It may not look exactly like what you thought it would, but listen when He tells you this is what He wants you to do."

I cannot even imagine my life if we hadn't listened. Dating as teenagers, my husband and I didn't daydream about our transracial, multicultural family and a life with Autism, ADHD, and Down Syndrome. The life He has given us is so much greater than anything we could have imagined for ourselves! It isn't easy, and it won't get easier with Anna Gray's arrival- but that doesn't mean it won't get better either! We are so grateful for ALL of our blessings, no matter how they found us.

It's easy to get intimidated by the work, by the money, by the future. But for us, it's short-term compared to a lifetime of reward with our children!

To connect with Amber, please click on the "Bring Anna Home" button located at the bottom right-side of my blog.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adoption Tax Stuff

My husband is a CPA, so he does the taxes each year and then comes to me and says, "Sign here" about six times. I pretty much failed the mock tax paperwork test in Cosumer Education class in high school. Something about all the fine print and mostly, the numbers, turns me off.
Anyway, here's a new article by the IRS regarding the tax credit/refund guidelines. I hope you find it helpful. It's easy to read and understand, and that's coming from the girl who used to have panic attacks in college math class. ;)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Second Best?





I get pretty sad, for lack of a better word, when I hear someone say they "have to adopt" because nothing else has worked. It's like they are settling, choosing something second best. I've also heard people ask adoptive families why they "have to adopt" (which is, of course, totally none of their business!), implying that adoption is a last resort.



I never ever ever want my children to feel as though they are second best. The truth is, adoption wasn't in our plans when we got married. Not because we despised it, but truly because it never crossed our minds. We figured, like many couples, we'd get married, have a few kids (biologically, of course), and live happily ever after.



But when type I diabetes stormed in, we reevaluated our decision to have biological children. It would be quite risky to my health and potentially to the health of the unborn child. The list of potential complications is extensive, ranging from rapid organ and system deterioration in the mother to blood sugar issues or major birth defects in the baby. Death for both was also a possibility.


GULP.


We're talking about some pretty serious stuff.



I wasn't willing to risk my health or put my own desires (to have a biological child) above the health of that child.



The decision to adopt was immediate (upon diagnosis) and complete for me. It wasn't second best. It was best. 100%.



I don't know how I arrived at that choice so clearly and completely. God? Maybe. Type A personality? Partly. But it happened.



I was confident in this choice from day #1. While others would doubt our choice---questioning, didn't we want our own?---I held true to my conviction. I honestly couldn't understand why people weren't getting it. Diabetes was a BIG FREAKING DEAL. Did they not see how close I was to death? How diabetes could kill me or an unborn child---and I should be ok with that and in the name of biology force my body through hell in order to have "my own"?


I realize that not every woman arrives at the decision to adopt in the same way. Nor are some women 100% ok with adoption, because deep down, they are always longing for the possibility of a biological child. I read many blogs and Facebook posts testifying to the "but maybe" and "what if" moments these women have.




My fertility, unlike many of my adoptive mama friends, wasn't stolen from me. But my life was drastically altered, DRASTICALLY, by the loss of all my body's insulin. Not only was the decision to not have biological children changed, but every single day of my life is dictated by my disease. That's how a chronic disease is. Even if you want to be normal, you can't, because your disease will hit you upside the head or kick you in butt when you least want it to, telling you, "You are not normal. You are sick."



I guess in some ways, infertility is a lot like a chronic disease. It's ever-present. Even on good days, when we feel at peace, it's still there, quietly lurking about, preparing to pounce.



What is the point of this post? I guess that we, as adoptive parents, we have to be sensitive to the words we use AND the words we accept in our lives from others. "Have to" is rather dangerous. It sends a powerfully negative, if not life-altering message to our adopted kiddos. We can't and shouldn't push our personal issues (whether that's loss of fertility, a chronic disease, or anything else) onto our children for them to carry. It's just too much. We have to be really careful what we say and who we say it to (it could come back and bite us and our children in the rear). We have to be careful what we blog---because once it's out there, it's out there. Would you be ok with your child reading what you are writing? And we have to really guard our own minds---what are we dumping onto ourselves. I was once totally obsessed with an online adoption forum---until I realized it was only making me crazy, that the things shared were only hindering me, not helping me, become a better mom and wife. I had to let. it. go.



My girls are not second best. God knew before I was born that I would end up with this horrible disease. He knew Miss E and Baby E would be mind. He carefully planted people in my life who would cultivate adoption-minded love. I see where jobs I worked---as a nanny, as preschool teacher at church, as a babysitter, as a day care worker---taught me that I could love a child who was not biologically mine. I was learning to be an adoptive mother long before I knew I wouldn't have biological children.



What an incredible journey it's been so far. Though it wasn't what I planned for my life, it sure isn't second best.


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So, dear readers, what do you need to let go? What is one healthy thing you can do to better yourself as an adoptive or future adoptive parent? What words do you need to reject? What changes can you make? What is your life teaching your child in terms of adoption, infertility, loss, sadness?






Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Random Goodness: Brown Kids, Black Hair, Black Dads, and Young Moms

A friend posted this on FB a few weeks ago. I thought transracial families would find it of interest.

Likewise, this article is intriguing. The topic is black hair. I'm shocked that people would touch a GROWN WOMAN's hair. I thought young black kids were the only ones who struggled with hair petting strangers. (Speaking of hair-petting, people continue to pet my daughter's head. I'm going so insane trying to figure out what to do. I REALLY hope I don't freak out and blow up at some innocent person one of these days. We told Miss E to tell people, "Don't touch my hair, please" but she forgets when she's playing or focused on a bug flying around or whatever).

What happens to black kids who grow up without dads? Watch this new documentary trailer.

Finally, a recent post on one of my favorite websites, My Brown Baby, is on the subject of young moms (18-28). How can they be financially secure? How can they find their dream job while juggling motherhood? One lady who has "been there done that" blogs on this topic and has a new book out. What a fantastic resource for young moms!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Time for Your Man + My Latest Adoption Article

Life is busy.

Understatement. :)

My husband works for a large financial company---and like every other company right now, there are stresses due to the tough economy. My husband puts in long hours to provide for our family.

I'm preparing to return to the University to teach part-time in a few weeks. Planning a 16 week course (x2 different classes) is quite a task! Not to mention I'm writing for Diabetes Health, Adoptive Families, and other publications.

Oh yeah, and we have two kids: an infant and a toddler. Enough said about that.

So how do we stay connected? Here are some tips. And I am, by no means, an expert. This is just what is working for us:







  1. Stop watching crappy television. We canceled many shows on our DVR. If we want to watch a mindless show, we do so when the other person is busy. For instance, when I nap (along with the girls) on a Sunday afternoon, my husband can watch one of his man shows.



  2. Shut off the technology. We try not to use the computer or our cell phones after 7 p.m. every night and rarely on the weekends.



  3. Go on a date. Duh.



  4. Plan a one-night getaway, even if it's just locally or even a staycation (stay at home minus the kids!). Trade babysitting with friends to save money.



  5. Don't say "yes" very often. I'm not a fan of being majorly involved in many activities to where it compromises your family's togetherness, bonding, and unity. I have my adoptive mom group that meets once a month. My husband goes on an annual man-weekend.



What works for you?




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Will my kids be black enough? Find out more on My Brown Baby.

 
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