Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas! "See" You Again in 2013!

I'm taking a few weeks off from my blog to focus on my family, Christmas preparations and plans, and, of course, my book!   I also have a list of projects I'd like to complete during the four weeks I have off work.    I also plan to do some baking, sleeping, reading, and writing. 

I want to thank you for your readership, and I hope you and your family have a peaceful and joyful Christmas!

I'll continue to check my e-mail, so if you have a question, let me know.   whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com

Monday, December 17, 2012

What to Say?

This isn't going to be my most eloquent blog post.  It's not about adoption.   It's not full of links to benefit your adoption education.

It's just me, typing because it's all I know to do right now.    I hope that somehow you are blessed through my words.  

Today, I don't want to share sweeping cliches or an image of a candle.    All these FB postings of what Fred Rogers or Morgan Freeman said aren't comforting to me---in fact, they anger me.   Why are we trying to make sense of nonsense?   Nothing anyone seems to do or say is enough right now.   We are all deeply sad, hurt, confused, angry.    Our minds GO THERE, to dark and sad places.  Our hearts are heavy.   We can't hold our children close enough.

I had a hard time sleeping last night.  Every pop of the heater duct work bothered me.   I was hearing noises like a five-year-old child believing there are monsters in the closet.  I'm angry that one person can steal so much courage and strength and peace from people.    I feel restless and skittish.

Psalm 4:8
   In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

I had a hard time leaving my daughter at school today, and I wasn't alone.  Many parents lingered at drop off much longer than usual.   We all gave our children extra hugs and kisses, saying, "I love you" an extra time or two.     I was relieved when it was time to go pick up my daughter.  I wanted her in my car, under my protection, as swiftly as possible without her thinking something was drastically and irrevocably wrong with the world she otherwise feels safe in.   She has seen no news coverage; I intend to keep it that way.  

Psalm 46:1
    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

I have a hard time looking at our beautiful Christmas decorations and piles and piles of presents.   It dawned on me that there are a couple dozen other families in CT who have piles under their trees too, and there are gifts under those trees with names on them.  Names of people, people who won't open those gifts.

Luke 2:10
   And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

I'm trying not to watch much news.  We never watch news in front of the the littles, and I rarely watch the news at all.  It's usually too much to see right before bed.  Most of it is very dark. 

But these past few days have been the darkest. 

What is the right response in this situation?  Is it to pray?  Is it to cry?  Is it to blog?  Is it to call the NRA or write a letter to the President?  Is it to celebrate Christmas as if nothing has happened, or celebrate Christmas knowing that Christ is our ONLY hope?  Is it to mutter weak Christian cliches to one another?   Is it to finish our Christmas shopping and take our kids to visit Santa at the mall?

I have gone to my Bible a few times, but I'll admit that I'm sort of angry at God.  Why did this happen?  And like many people, I'm furious that children were subject to such evil.  As a mother, my #1 instinct is to protect my children with everything I have, even my own life if necessary.   No Bible verses stuck out to me as I flipped aimlessly through the worn pages.   
I feel like perhaps God is telling me to not even try to make sense of this situation.    That's not my job, nor is it beneficial.     I want to fight.  I want laws to change (but to what, I have NO idea), I want the mentally ill to receive the help they need, I want people to have the courage to speak up when something isn't right and for "higher ups" to take such concerns very very seriously.  I want my children to NEVER be subject to gun violence.    I want to feel that my middle-class suburban lifestyle is immune to everything bad that could ever happen.   
Friday's event reminds me of how vulnerable we all are.  How incredibly fragile life is.   How precious children are and how brave teachers can be.    There are glimmers of hope (that there are GOOD people in this world who will stand up and fight, even if it means they might lose their lives) overwhelmed with waves of hopelessness.   
I'm reminded that we live in a fallen world.     That if we seek complete joy and peace and happiness while we are living, we will NEVER find it.    
Christmas is about hope.  It's about promise.     And even though this year's commercial-driven Christmas has been drastically shifted for many of us who can't get into what we deem the "Christmas spirit," we realize this shift in focus is turning us back to what has always been the point of Christmas.   To get down to the very basic environment (a manger, a field, a star) and people (a young couple, shepherds, and, of course, a baby boy) who together offer a very simple message:
"8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold,[b] an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2:8-10)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Name Dropping

I can't hold it in any longer!

Here are some of the fabulous adoption experts who have given their permission for me to share some of their wisdom with you in my upcoming book.   Recognize them?

  • Jana Wolff:  Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother,
  • Sherrie Eldridge:    Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew,
  • Patricia Irwin Johnston:  Adoption is a Family Affair!:  What Relatives and Friends Must Know,
  • Arleta James:   Brothers and Sisters in Adoption:  Helping Children Navigate Relationships When New Kids Join the Family,
  • Deborah Gray:   Attaching in Adoption:  Practical Tools for Today’s Parents,
  • Elisabeth O’Toole:  In On It:  What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To You Know About Adoption, Lois Ruskai Melina and Sharon Kaplan Roszia:  The Open Adoption Experience,
  • Adam Perman:  Adoption Nation:  How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families—and America,
  • Nancy Newton Verrier:  The Primal Wound:  Understanding the Adopted Child,
  • and many more. 

I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of these authors, and I can't wait to share my book with you in January 2013! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Slow Parenting

A slow-parenting activity:   "bedazzling" pumpkins this fall

I'm hyper.  Enthusiastic.  Opinionated.  Type A.  I'm always on time and prepared.    I'm organized.  Efficient.    Determined.  

When I heard of slow parenting, it appealed to me.  Desperately.  Because one thing I'm not is calm.   I'd love to be a zen-goddess who practices yoga and prayer daily, deeply, and meaningfully, who sips organic flax/wheat grass/lettuce smoothies all day, walks slowly while "smelling the roses," and who never yells at her kids.

The other day I went to the library after work.    My husband was home with the kids.  It was a quiet, mild evening.   I strolled in, got my books, and left.    As I was walking from the library doors to my car, I realized that I was power usual.    And then I asked myself, What's the hurry, Rach?    I took a deep breath, slowed my pace, and got mindful of the moment.   

Slow parenting appeals to me because with each child we add to our family, I realize how fast parenting just doesn't work.     I've never been a fan of children having loads of scheduled activities.  In fact, when we had just one activity, Miss E's dance class, it was enough to send me over the edge some weeks.    It became a "to do" instead of an enjoyable activity.    I would sit in a tiny, warm waiting room with other moms, desperately trying to entertain my 1.5 year old energetic and mischievous toddler, steering her away from the steep staircase leading to the basement dance classrooms and a few houseplants.    It was exhausting.

I feel as though society is telling me what I should be doing as a parent, but I'll be honest.  I'm not jealous of my friends who run their kids here and there and everywhere, from activity to activity, frantic.    It's their choice, of course.  But for me, I'm not sure my nerves, my blood sugars, or my spirit could handle it.

I know, I know.  It's not what is best for me.  It's what best for the kids.    Right?  Well, what if slow parenting is best for all of us?  

I grew up in "the country."   We lived on two acres of green space complete with a treehouse, swimming pool, two barns, a shed, hills, and a national forest directly behind our home.    We spent hours upon hours either playing outside, writing stories and plays, reading, building creations with Legos, etc.   We played.  A lot.   We owned two electronic toys:  a Peter Pan book with buttons and the original Nintendo that a cool uncle got for us one summer.    That was it.   

Life was slow.  And it was fabulous!    Any given object (a stick, a doll, a box) inspired adventure.  

Some might call it lazy, especially in today's culture of GO GO GO.    It's as if we believe that unless our children are consumed with school followed by several activities followed by weekends of more activities and birthday parties, that we aren't good parents and our kids will quickly fall by the wayside of life.

Slow parenting involves being calm.  Allowing kids to learn and grow at their own pace.   It means leaving plenty of room for creativity and possibility.

I'm just getting to know this parenting style for my own kids, though I was raised with the slow parenting concept, and I'm learning to very much appreciate it.

I also embrace slow parenting because it's quite opposite of my personality, and because I know slow parenting is what is best for our family.   We already have two children under the age of four, and we are waiting to adopt a third child.    Yep, that's ages 0, 2, and 4.    Crazy, right?  

Well, I guess it COULD be crazy.  And I know some days it will be crazy.    But parents set the tone for so much that goes on in a household...

and I'm choosing a slower pace, more peace, more joy, more laughter.

Friday, December 7, 2012

In The News...

My husband always sends me new adoption articles from the various news websites he reads.  Here are two he has sent that have been interesting reads.  Let me know what you think!

Mom puts baby up for adoption...without telling dad

Young Boys Meet Through Friends and Discover They are Brothers

Finally, several people have brought this guy (and his TV show) to my attention.  I haven't watched it yet, but maybe you have?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Interview With a Transracial Adoption Book Author

Baby E, playing in a puddle

Someone had posted on the Adoptive Families Community page about a book on transracial adoption, one I hadn't heard of.  I immediately ordered it from my local library (you can purchase it on Amazon):  White Parents, Black Children:  Experiencing Transracial Adoption.  I had a mixed reaction to it's contents, but no matter if I read a book on adoption and walk away feeling angry or if I feel celebratory and educated, I am happy that books get me thinking and talking.

Recently, I interviewed one of the book's authors, Mr. Darron Smith. 

Rachel:  What was your goal in writing the book? Your motivation?

Mr. Smith:  I wanted to better understand the experiences of white parents on the front lines raising black and biracial children. Research has uncovered many things from the adoptee's vantage point. What scholars have been slow to address is white adoptive parents racial understandings and how those notions affect the self-esteem of black children.
R:   Your book is full of research, but the book then ends with a chapter of practical application for adoptive families. Why not more practical application suggestions? After all, the subtitle is "Experiencing Transracial Adoption."

S:  The authors and myself are first and foremost researchers, and the book was marketed as a research manuscript to be used in academia such as sociology and social work departments. I knew, however, that there would be an additional audience looking at this book, particularly transracially adopting parents. I wanted to share with the adoptive parents other truths we’ve learned from the parents in the study, which I thought would be helpful for a general transracial adoptive audience. What I’ve come to understand is a book of strategies is not really transformative. White parents must learn to navigate and understand the meaning of “from the center to the margin,” or in other words, recognizing to the best of their ability what it means to live in a black body and to understand the overwhelming racialized events that continually shape the quality of life for black adoptees. To put another way, the tools and practical applications aren’t useful unless one understands the context in which they are coming from.

R:  Page 13 shares, "This book is not about blaming White parents, or even suggesting their parenting is inadequate"; however, at times, it does feel that the authors are attempting, through quotes from transracial adoptees and adoptive parents as well as research, that parents are failing at parenting black children. I noticed that many of the people you interviewed were older adoptees and older adoptive parents. From my experience, younger parents of black children are making great strides in many areas to provide their black kids with the necessary tools to grow into successful, racially-healthy adults. Why did you focus on older parents? Have you done any research on younger parents?

S:  I thought older adoptive parents would make for a richer study. These parents have the benefit of longitudinal hindsight of what worked and didn’t work regarding raising black children. Furthermore, I wanted to include insight from the transracial adoptees as they looked back and reflect on their life experiences and self-awareness as children, teenagers, young adults, and into adulthood. Those insights understandably come with time; thus, an older audience (children and parents alike) were interviewed.

I don’t doubt that younger adoptive parents are making great strides. With all due respect, regardless of generation, Whites as a whole continue to ignore the realities of benefitting from white privilege as well as recognizing the experiences of children of color in the context of a racist society. Adopting transracially may increase the awareness of the parents, but until these concepts are fully understood and embraced, transracial adoptees will continue to struggle with identity issues. See the following response to a recent blog I posted online “raising culturally responsive black children in white adoptive homes” from a transracially adopted black women:

Read the article it is nothing but intellectual claptrap. I am a Black woman who was adopted by White parents and none of it came clise to describing my experience. Yes, I sometimes wished I looked like my parents but not because I hated being Black or thinking White was better but because I simply wanted to resemble the people I loved the most. I also probably know more about true Black history than those so called authentic Black people. Who is Patricia E. Bath? Don't know? How about Ralph Bunche? Who knows Jan Ernst Matzeliger, Elijah McCoy, or Mae Jemison? These are Black people who.made a real difference in our lives. Patricia was the first Black woman to receive a medical patent for laser eye surgery. Ralph Bunche was a political scientist who graduated from UCLA and Harvard when few Blacks were doing so. He went on to work for the. UN and even negotiated a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Elijah McCoy was a prolific Black inventor and the quality of his inventions were so superior to others who tried to copy them that people began to ask if this was a real McCoy? Jan Ernst Matzeliger was a Black Dutchman who came to America and invented the shoe lasting machine. This made it possible to make 500 pairs of shoes a day instead of 50. Mae Jemison is a Black female astronaut. So yes I may not speak Ebonics. I may not listen to Jay Z or eat hamhocks. I am, however, a prouud Black woman. I have no desire to be a part of what sadly passes for Black culture today. It is based on ignorance, a lack of formal education and the embracing of the thug life. While the real culture heritage that is so rich and filled with so many remarkable is overlooked or worse yet ridiculed. I will never associate myself with what passes for Black culture today but I most proudly align myself with the great Black cultural leaders and thinkers throughout history.

R:  I read the biographies provided, and it seems that none of the authors are adoptive parents, adoptees, or birth parents. As an adoptive parent, it's tough to take advice or suggestions from people who aren't in the trenches alongside me. However, it seemed to some degree, you wanted the research to speak for itself and that you and your co-authors weren't trying to advise or suggest. Can you respond to this?

S:  Although the authors were neither adopted nor adoptive parents, Dr. Juarez and myself have both raised and mentored biracial children in predominately white settings who endure many of the same issues that TRA children face. Although much research is available regarding the self-awareness and identity development of all adoptees, this book is more centered on the issue of race in raising black and brown children in white homes and in predominately white contexts/environment. As an African American father, raising my biracial daughters to love their blackness is a daunting task given the competing mainline discourses regarding what is acceptable norms and values that shape the human condition. I struggle every day to teach my daughters to develop a healthy (black) self-identity. The difference is that I have experiences to draw from as a black man growing up in a white racialized world. The enemy of positive self-esteem is self-doubt, which I share in a very personal way with white adoptive parents.

Furthermore, although I understand your point to a degree, I strongly believe that part of the problem with our black and brown TRAs and their struggle with identity is that transracial adoptive parents are not taking advice from black parents who have generations of experience of raising children in our highly racialized society.

R:  On page 13, it's written, "Transracial adoption is both deeply perplexing and highly interesting because race simultaneously does and does not matter." Well said! Can you explain this further?

S:  There are two meanings to this statement. First (and a bit more difficult to grasp) is the concept that race is a socially constructed artifact that people attach meaning too. In other words, “race” doesn’t truly exist. Skin tone, however, is a major factor that lurks deep within our subconscious mind, regardless of who you are. And skin color incites particular white racial frame in one’s head, which leads to assumptions based on race of who that person is, where they came from, how they will act, talk, dress, believe. These race-based assumptions lead to differential treatment in opportunities based on a society that was created on the pretense of equality. Or at least a limited notion of the concept as expressed our nations founding elite white males. In saying that, race matters and it doesn’t matter depending on what is at stake for elite whites. I also see that race is often used when it is expedient to oneself and withheld when it is not expedient……..

R:  At one point you talk about "drive by" racial education---the idea that transracial adoptive parents simply wish to occasionally and lightly teach kids about race, but it's not enough. I totally agree with this. What suggestions do you have for adoptive parents to help them instill more dense and meaningful and continual racial education and experiences in their children?

S:  White parents simply must unlearn those white-centered frames about the world as invented and discovered by Westerners. Before, I believe, white adoptive parents can be effective at raising healthy and psychologically balanced children they must analyze the very concept of race as more than stereotyping and prejudice but as an centuries-old structure, which has not been an everyday part of their reality. When white parents uncover the deep-seated racism(s), it speaks them in ways they are unaware of. The transformation is a moral and philosophical metamorphosis which can be painful at times for many well-intentioned Whites as they begin to see that what they “know” about race is wholly wrong-headed, and yet, enlightening if they allow the knowledge to unfold.

If black adoptive children aren’t given the cultural tools they need to cope with the devastating effects of every race-based mistreatment, they are left at a considerable disadvantage. They have the increased potential to become self-doubters which is the enemy of positive self-esteem. Parents are the gatekeepers of socialization, whether implicitly or explicitly, and therefore, must redouble their efforts to unlearn white supremacists frames that continually reshape the American experience. Because truthfully, “drive by” strategies and cultural tourism has yet to significantly change the landscape of race relations.

Thanks to Mr. Smith for his time and energy.   I hope, dear readers, you will pick up a copy of Mr. Smith's (and company's) book.    

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Doubts and Frustrations

I've been working very hard on wrapping up my final manuscript for publication.  I've ordered business cards, a t-shirt, and a tote bag---all ready for giveaways once the book comes out.  I've typed up the press release, gotten some fabulous book reviews to use for promotional purposes, and continued to build my audience through my book's Facebook page.  

Writing and publishing a book has been my dream since I was a little girl.    And it's finally, finally coming true.

But doubts and frustrations keep cropping up, threatening my confidence, enthusiasm, and determination.   

First, let me say that most of the feedback I've received (probably 95% of it) has been positive and encouraging.   

But, we all know how tempting it is to focus on the negativity, not the positivity and possibility.

I've struggled with the fact that I may not be qualified enough to write this book.  There are plenty of experts out there (with the right letters after their name, the adoption-related higher education degrees, the 10, 20, or 30 year parenting experience) who have written books.     There are those who have parented far more children than me who have written books.  There are those who have powerful publishers backing their books.

And there's me.

I have to quiet myself and remember that writing this book is absolutely what I was meant to do.   I can look back on my journey to and through adoption thus far and see where God planted the right people, the right opportunities, the write ah-ha moments in my path to prepare me to write this book.

No one likes to be looked down upon, scrutinized, or doubted.     I'm no exception.    I'm fearful of "what ifs" that are honestly quite ridiculous and honestly, too self-centered.

You see, this book, though it was written by me, isn't for me or about me.  

I wrote this book because there is an obvious hole in the market, a lack of down-to-earth, practical, insightful, engaging books for parents hoping to (or have already) adopt Black children. 

I wrote this book because people have been telling me my whole life, especially in the past few years, to write a book (already). 

I wrote this book because I feel like God has told me to do so.

I wrote this book because I'm confident that it will help adoptive parents understand how to better navigate transracial adoption and parenting.

I wrote this book because there are people who need it.

I wrote this book because I have been gifted with the ability to write well.

I wrote this book because I have become connected with some of the greatest adoption professionals who are willing to contribute their words to my book, making it even more fabulous.

There have been setbacks.   Certain things have taken longer (much longer) than I planned. I have to be patient, knowing that the extra time will produce a better book.

Readers, I can't wait to share this book with you.  I know I often say "my book," but truly, this book isn't mine.  It belongs to those who choose to read it.

I appreciate those of you who have encouraged me time and time again.    I hope this book will make you proud!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dear Family, Friends, Neighbors, Co-Workers: What To Say, and What Not to Say, When You Learn Someone You Know is Adopting

When someone announces he/she is adopting, it's a BIG deal.

Adopting is a huge step in a person's life.     It's scary, it's confusing, it's bittersweet, it's exciting.  

I dare to make this comparison:  it's like learning you are pregnant (or that you impregnated someone, for any male readers out there). 

There are so many unknowns, so few certainties.

So, here's what you can say when someone drops the adoption news on you:

---"How exciting!  I'm so happy for you!"
---"I can't wait to plan your baby/child shower!"
---"That's great!  What do you anticipate that journey looking like?"
---"You will be a great mom/dad."

What not to say:
---"Why?  Can you not have your own kids?" (the adoptist)
---"Have you tried IVF?" (the adoptist, round II)
---"Are you sure that's a good decision?" (the pessimist)
---"Isn't adoption really expensive?" (the nosy)
---"Don't all adopted kids have problems?" (the worrywart)
---"You'll get pregnant as soon as you adopt, I bet!" (the optimist)
---"Aren't you scared the birth parents will try to get the child back?" (the pessimist, round II)
---"Oh!  Any child would be so lucky to have you as his/her mom/dad!"  or "There are so many needy children who need good homes!" (the stereotype-lover)
---"Awww!  Are you going to get one of those little Black babies from Africa?" (the optimist-gone-wrong)

Let me assure you:
---I don't know of a single adoptive parent who didn't/doesn't take adoption seriously.
---I don't know of a single adoptive parent who hasn't struggled in some way in their journey to choosing adoption, adopting, or parenting adopted children.
---Adoption isn't second-best to having biological kids.   It's just different.
---Adoption is life-altering, but it can be wonderfully rewarding.

Before you speak,
take a deep breath
and think about how you would want someone to respond to your pregnancy news...

What if you announced a pregnancy, for example.  

It'd be best for your family member/friend/neighbor/co-worker not to cite stats on how many pregnancies end in miscarriage, or how likely it is that the child could have a certain disease or condition, or make comments about unsightly stretch marks and weight gain, or talk about how horrible childbirth is.     It's best not to ask the nitty-gritty details of the night conception occurred or ask if the pregnancy was intentional or not.   It's best not to ask about the person's readiness to become a parent.

So when someone you know announces he/she is adopting:

Just smile.

Say something nice, non-threatening, and non-nosy.

If he/she wants you to know more, you'll know.  

If you want to know more, do some research on your own, or ask the person for resources.

Be supportive.

Adoption is a difficult journey, and adoptive parents need encouragement.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Here Come the Holidays!: Practical Tips to Be Merry and Bright

As a diabetic, the holidays can become quite stressful for me.  Beyond the typical rushing around, purchasing and wrapping gifts, keeping up with the everyday household duties and childcare, attending multiple parties, etc., there's the looming fact that "the holidays" begin with Halloween and continue through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, my birthday, Valentine's Day, and Easter.    With each holiday comes a slew of events which almost always center around a huge meal.   Balancing my blood sugars is difficult when my daily routine is altered or disrupted (what I eat, exercise, when I eat, sleeping in my own bed, etc.).

To keep your holidays merry and bright, take some time BEFORE the holidays continue to reflect on what does and doesn't work for your family, and follow these tips:

1:  Pick a time where just your immediate family celebrates.    Yes, just you, your partner, and your kids.     Make this time special but relaxing.    For our family, Christmas Eve is reserved for just us.   We go out to dinner (somewhere laid-back like St. Louis Bread Company), go to a Christmas Eve service at church, and come home, get in our pjs, and open gifts from one another.

2:  Carry healthy snacks with you everywhere you go.    When your blood sugar is balanced (this means consuming a balanced snack or meal of protein, healthy carbs (including lots of fiber), and healthy fats), you and your family will be able to sustain traveling, partying, and hosting.      Don't forget to stay hydrated!    Water and herbal teas are favorites in our household.     When you attend holiday events, take along food that is healthy to share with others:  raw veggies, fruit, a whole wheat loaf of bread, a homemade pumpkin pie, hummus and crackers.  

3:  Exercise.  I know, you don't want to be the nerd who is on the treadmill at 7 a.m. Christmas morning, but exercise gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, decreases stress, and helps you maintain your weight during the holidays.     If you don't want to exercise alone, take a child along with you, or your spouse, or that favorite aunt you want to catch up with.   Don't overdo it, nor do you have to do anything formal.   Put your shoes and jacket on and go out for a quick walk.  :)   Or do a short yoga routine.  

4:   Be present.   This is SO difficult to do as a mother.   My mind is always going twenty-miles-a-minute.    I get it.  But instead of always being behind the camera or frantically cleaning up wrapping paper, leave the mess or, better yet, have fun with it.  Crank up some Christmas tunes and have a wrapping paper fight with the fam.

What are your favorite stay-not-just-sane-but-happy holiday tips?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Open Adoption Bloggers: Interview With A Fellow Adoptive Mama

I had the privilege of "meeting" Stephanie and her family through this year's Open Adoption Bloggers' Interview Project.     Stephanie and I interviewed one another on the subjects of all-things-adoption and life in general.  :)   Enjoy learning about Stephanie, and I hope you will stop by her blog and say hello!

Rachel:   Your blog pictures feature your beautiful rainbow family. Give me one sentence on each family member (name, age, and something cool about each person).

Stephanie:  (Ahem … as long as I use semi-colons it is still considered just one sentence, right??)

Pedro is forty years old and has faced life’s adventures with me for fifteen years of marriage; by God’s grace he keeps our family grounded with his calm wisdom and laughing with his great sense of humor.

Stephanie is thirty-six years old and a lover of chocolate, language, music, family, and learning more of God and His intimate work in the human heart and across this wide world.
Eva is eleven years old and every animal is her friend; she has an ear for music and a mind constantly swirling with questions; she is a tender, loving daughter and a typical, bossy big sister.

Isabel is ten years old and our miracle child whose years of therapies and doctor’s visits for mild CP have softened her heart into one of utmost compassion for others; she hopes to be a medical missionary to Haiti one day.

Owen is seven years old and a Daddy’s boy full of energy, joy, athleticism, and the frequent deep thought that gives us a glimpse into his intelligent mind and beautiful, sensitive spirit.
Ian is four years old (five in December) and a curious, busy, friendly little man who has a hard time slowing down and who continues to process life and language with the love of his family.
Alec is four years old with a strong spirit and a bright mind; he is a fighter and a lover; stubborn, sweet, and funny.

R:  As an experienced adoptive parent, what advice would you offer to a person or couple who is beginning their adoption journey?
S:  Make sure you and your spouse are both fully committed to the adventure that awaits you, and then jump in with faith! Don’t let finances or waiting for the “perfect” time hold you back: God will supply, and His timing is perfect. Do be aware that on the way to your child/ren, it is highly likely you will experience adoption loss but trust that God already knows exactly who your child/ren will be. Grieve if necessary, but don’t give up! Follow the stories of others who are adopting from your child’s country (if international) and familiarize yourself with the adoption laws in different states (if domestic.) Compassionately consider adoption from a birth parent’s point of view, and be sincere and trustworthy in your adoption relationships.

R:  You have a large, multi-racial family. What has your parenting journey taught you thus far in regards to adoption, race, and managing a household of many children?

S:  I have discovered that I must be a willing, humble learner on this wild parenting journey because I will never “arrive” and I will always need God’s grace. Regarding adoption, I have learned to be sensitive in creating opportunities for my children to safely and openly talk about their feelings and experiences. Concerning both race and adoption, I have discovered that these topics will always be just under the surface for my children and I must be available and prepared to help them explore and understand their own reality and work through their emotions. Managing a household of many children has its challenges, but most of all it is FUN! There is no greater feeling than having all my “chicks” together and we make it a priority to safeguard our home time, make fun memories, and reinforce the blessing of being FAMILY.
R:    You and your family live what many would consider a rather adventurous and extraordinary life: you live in Chile, you have adopted, you are missionaries. Tell me more about this phase in your life, and where do you see your family in ten years?

S:  We are currently drawing to a close nearly one year living back in the United States for furlough ministry, which has consisted of thousands of miles of travel and reporting in person to over twenty supporting churches in five different states! In January, we will pack up our family of seven and fly back to Chile for another term (4 years) of ministry. We love the life God has given us in a very unique part of the world with its desert, sand and sea and wonderful people. In ten years, if God allows, we will be experiencing that bittersweet reality of missionary life which is having kids stateside in college while we remain overseas. I pray it will be a time of looking back and celebrating all that God has done, and of looking forward with expectation to the dreams He will yet fulfill!

R:  I'm going to ask a nosy question...but I'm sure it's one your blog readers are wondering. Will you adopt again? ;)

S:  If you ask my husband, the answer is a resounding no. But since you’ve asked me, my answer is “never say never!” For the past nearly three years since our “dynamic duo” arrived from Haiti, I have felt that our family was complete. But I do get the baby itch every now and then, and I’ve always loved the idea of adopting from Chile if the opportunity presented itself. Only God knows!

R:  Finally, if you could give the world one message about adoption, what would it be?

S:  Open your heart to loving a child through adoption, and you will never be the same!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Books (and More) for Black Boys

Blog readers often ask me for book suggestions on specific adoption-related and race-related topics, and as a avid reader, library-lover (/stalker), and adoption advocate, I'm happy to oblige! 

Today, I want to share with my readers a list of books (and a few other random items) that I recommend for Black (and/or brown-skinned) boys.     There are a plethora of options for brown-skinned girls, thankfully, but I'd like to see an equal number of options for brown-skinned boys.   Until then, here's what I've found:

Ezra Jack Keats Treasury on Amazon

Chocolate Me on Amazon

He's Got the Whole World In His Hands on Amazon

Not Norman on Amazon

I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother on Amazon

Jesus is With Me on Amazon

The Ezra Jack Keats collection on DVD on Amazon

Global Wonders:  African American on DVD at Amazon

In addition, there are many biographies featuring Black men written for children!    I love this one on African American inventors.      Our family enjoys the Little Bill TV series and books.  

I'm thrilled that Hallmark has a brown-skinned little boy ornament available this year!  Check out Gabriel!    

Here's an African American newborn doll on Amazon.

The Snowy Day boy doll on Amazon

And a brown-skinned Elf on a Shelf on Amazon.   

Black boy Cabbage Patch on Amazon

Learn-to-Dress Black Boy doll on Amazon

"First" doll for Black Boys on Amazon

"Ethnic" doll family (which could be mixed with other family sets to create your own family) on Amazon     And here's one more option

Also, search the HearthSong and Magic Cabin websites for more options. 

Please share more suggestions via a comment!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Adoption Mini-Rants

I've been thinking about three issues lately:

1:  "I don't care if the baby is a boy or a girl as long as it's healthy."    This line is said on TV shows and in real life.   But what if your baby isn't "healthy"?   Then what?    It makes me think of something my daughter's teacher says when she gives each child a single Skittle as a reward in class.   The kids sometimes get upset about the color of Skittle they get, but the teacher reminds them, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."

Adoption---there are NO guarantees.    

I'm not saying that having a child with special needs isn't a BIG deal.   It is.  Many of my friends are parenting children with physical and mental disabilities, attachment issues, and so on.   

My rant is on the initial attitude of adoptive parents.   I can't wait to adopt....but only if the baby is White.   I can't wait to adopt....but only if the baby is light-brown, not dark-brown.  I can't wait to adopt a GIRL.    I can't wait to adopt a healthy baby.

Boo.    I hate those checklists agencies make us fill out regarding what we will and will not accept in an adoption situation.  They set us up for demanding a certain "type" of child.

2:  Adoption-themed shows and films.   I watch almost all of them:  Teen Mom, Teen Mom 2, I'm Having Their Baby.   I love Juno and October Baby despite their many faults.

I've been asked what I think of those shows.  

I'm glad adoption is being talked about more.  I'm glad adoption isn't the big secret it used to be.  I'm glad these shows demonstrate how HARD adoption is on members of the adoption triad.

I guess with reality TV, you're gonna get drama.  It's going to be sensationalized and exaggerated.  


3:    "You grew in my heart, not in my tummy."   Ok, I know this isn't going to be popular.  But I hate that adoption poem-of-sorts.      It's super cheesy, it's overused, and it's frankly a little to hearts-and-butterflies for me.   

My friend, an adoptive mother, shared this with me:

Someone said to her:  "God made your child for you."

She said:  "If God made my child for me, He would have put her in my belly.   He didn't.  She was made for her biological parents.  They chose not to parent her."

That's HARD to hear as an adoptive parent, but I agree with her!   God knew my children would come to be mine, but that doesn't mean He's not deeply saddened by the fact that my children are separated from their biological parents AND the loss that creates. 

What bothers you most about adoption? Or what is grating your nerves at this moment? What do you do to combat them?

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Adoption Book! + Adoption Month Ideas

I've dreamed of writing a book my entire life.  My first official book ("official" meaning there was a plot, illustrations, and pages stapled in order) was called The Princess and the Gold.  (You can probably guess what the book was about based on the phenomenal title).

I've come a long way since then (thank GOD).

This month, I anticipate the release (on Amazon) of my transracial adoption book:

Come Rain or Come Shine:  A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children

You can follow my book's page on FB to get the latest updates on the release, giveaways, media spotlights, and guest blog posts. 

Words cannot possibly express how excited I am to share this book with you!    I'm looking forward to announcing the exact release date very very soon! 


This month, celebrate adoption.  Here's a fabulous calendar of suggestions created by my friends over at Adoptive Families magazine

Friday, November 2, 2012

And the winner is....

Melissa said...
Her book, Chicks Run Wild, is a favorite in our house, so we would love to win this book!! I liked Sudipta's facebook page.
Please e-mail me your full name and address! 
whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com

Monday, October 29, 2012

Interview and Giveaway: Transracial Adoption-Themed Book for Kiddos

Just in time for Halloween!!!  

A FB post brought my attention to a fabulous adoption-themed book which will engage children who love mature cartoonish-illustrations, a suspenseful storyline, and a happy ending.     The best part of this book?  It features a transracial (well, trans-animal) family formed by adoption! 

First, let's meet the author, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen:

I am a former PhD candidate from Caltech who had a couple kids and took a sharp left turn on the path of life and went from scientist to parent and children's author. I have three beautiful, brilliant, active biracial children now who both keep me inspired to write and too exhausted to write!

Being a mom to three kids is a pretty full time job, but I do consider myself a full-time writer. But don't think that means I spend my entire work day writing new books! (I used to have that misconception as well!) As a writer, I have to prepare and give presentations to kids at schools, to educators, to parents, and to other writers (which need to be prepared, practiced and revised), and I have to promote my current books by doing signings, appearances, interviews, etc. After all that, I have to find time to write. It isn't always easy.

And speaking of not easy, finding time for hobbies? Does laundry count? :-) It's incredibly hard to find "me time," but as many moms will tell you, you are a better parent when you keep yourself grounded. So I do try. I take a kickboxing a couple times a week (both fitness and stress relief!). I try to go out to dinner a few times a month -- I'm a foodie and I like to see what fabulous chefs are doing to try to inspire my own culinary efforts. I'm a huge New York Giants fan, so the fall is spent following football rabidly.

When asked about her inspiration for Quackenstein Hatches a Family...(emphasis on the text is from me):

Honestly, I didn't necessarily set out to write a book about adoption, and I totally understand and admit that QUACKENSTEIN is not necessarily a "resource book" on adoption. But I did want to write a book about a parent's fears and worries -- and how those sometimes lead to silly decision-making -- and I wanted to make a play on "Frankenstein" using a duck. Because every book is better with a duck. Once I had the Frankenstein theme, I knew the "creation" had to be a platypus -- because no other animal looks so much like it was crafted out of leftover parts than the platypus! But how do you create a family with such seemingly different parts? Adoption seemed to be the easiest way. My hope is that the book gets across the message that no matter how a family is put together, and no matter how different it is from you expectations, that families who truly want to make it work find ways to do so. If you think about it, whenever you have a relationship, whether it is a friendship, a romance, or a parent-child relationship, you really never know what you;re going to get. The person you care about may turn out to be different that you expected, hoped for, wanted, etc. But true love looks past the differences and focuses on what you want to do for the other person. And eventually you learn that it is the relationship that is important.

What can we expect from you in the near-future?

Thanks for asking! I have number of projects going right now. There are several books that are under contracts that will release soon -- in 2013 alone there will be two new picture books, SNORING BEAUTY and ORANGUTANGLED. I'm going to be launching a series of chapter books called THE SPECTACLES OF DESTINY in 2014 -- and I'm still actively working on (read: writing!) those books. And, of course, I'm working on finally cleaning my bedroom -- the goal on that is completion by 2015.

Sudipta has kindly offered one lucky reader a copy of her book Quakenstein Hatches a Family
Entry period:  Today through Nov. 2 at noon (Central time).
Ways to enter:  You can enter this giveaway up to six times; the winner will drawn at random on Friday.  The winner's name will be posted on Friday.   The winner is responsible for contacting me via e-mail (whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com) within three days with his or her name and full address.    ONLY THOSE WITH UNITED STATES ADDRESSES MAY ENTER.  Each entry must be in a separate comment:
1:  "Like" Sudipta's Facebook page; leave me a comment telling me you did so.
2:   Subscribe to Sudipta's blog; leave me a comment telling me you did so.
3:   Become a follower of my blog; leave me a comment if you do!
4:  "Like" my book's Facebook page; leave me a comment if you do!
5:  "Like" my blog's Facebook page; leave me a comment if you do!
6:  Leave me a comment telling me what your little one(s) will be for Halloween this year.  
Good luck! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Plate is Too Full, and I've About Had It!

As I reported Wednesday, I'm just feeling agitated this week.  Tired.   Flustered.  

This is the time in the semester when life goes from hectic to downright crazy.   This week I conducted approximately 35 student conferences ranging from 10-20 minutes each.     In a few weeks, I'll receive 35 papers ranging from about 5-12 pages each.    After I grade and return those essays, I will grade 16 more papers from one class, plus 35 presentations.   

Here's the thing:  I love teaching.  I do.  I love learning about the students, I love embracing their passion for their research topics.    I learn about their families, their hobbies, their future careers, their struggles.    Writing is often intimate, and it's always a messy process.    But it's fabulous.     The best part of my job is seeing a student go from uncertain, confused, and down to confident, clear, and upbeat.  

The downside is that teaching involves grading.  Lots and lots and lots of grading.    Most of my work is done at home:   replying to e-mails, administrative odds-and-ends, prepping for class, posting documents to our course management system, and, yes, grading.   (Did I mention grading?)

So I'm teaching two classes, finishing my book (MY BOOK!!!), managing my home, caring for my daughters, running errands, and trying to be a decent wife, friend, daughter, and sister.  

Too much part-time stuff is going on. 

I used to believe that working part-time was the best of both worlds.  I'm both a stay-at-home-mom and a working-mom.  I can relate to women in both "camps."    I don't have to be either or, I get to be both.   Straddle the fence.

When my girls go down for their afternoon nap (and thank God my nearly-four-year-old still naps), I frantically begin to get done as much as possible:  grade, do some chores, make necessary phone calls, respond to student e-mails, read my devotional, take a shower, revise my book chapters, check all my online accounts (e-mail, Facebook, etc.).    

But all I really want to do is take a nap.  Or sit and read a magazine.    Or sprawl out on the grass and soak up some sunshine.

But I can't.   I won't let myself chill out.

DESPITE the fact that I know, I KNOW, how important it is to my health (to any person's health) to spend time doing nothing.   Because doing nothing is actually doing's giving your body the rest, the peace, that it needs to live, not just survive.

Right now I'm questioning if continuing to work part-time is not only unrealistic when baby #3 arrives but even next semester if we haven't adopted again yet and I have my two girls.     I'm just tired of feeling divided, and I know when I feel this way, something has got to give or else no one gets the best of me, myself included!

It's the age-old battle:  stay at home and make no money (except off book royalties) or work (make money) and feel a constant level of stress (sometimes low, sometimes moderate, sometimes high) which impacts every area of my life.

And it's even harder for me to decide because I love my job.   But the requirements are getting to me, especially the grading.

I don't want to brush off my girls.  I don't want to answer their questions while my eyes are tied to a computer screen, trying to respond to another student's e-mail.    I want my girls to know that when they respond to someone, eye contact and listening ears are essential.     I'm modeling some pretty crappy behavior right now, and I know it.

I can take a year off work and not lose my seniority, I recently discovered.   I had planned on taking a semester off when we get our next child, but a year....a year?      In a year, I could promote my book, spend hours playing with my kids, chill out some, learn to coupon better, exercise more, begin writing articles again, and do so many things that are on my "someday" list.

This is one of those posts where I'm really not sure where I'm going or what I'm trying to convey.   I'm writing this for my own benefit----I'm trying to sort things out.

I'd love to hear from you.   Where are you at in your life right now?   What needs eliminating?   What choices are you struggling with?  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Adoptive Mama Thoughts

Today while I was getting my daily dose of encouragement (via reading a fab book, checking out recommended Bible verses, and praying) the thought crossed my mind that it's quite likely that somewhere there is a woman who is pregnant with our baby.

Adoption is always on my mind.   This weekend we watched The Avengers followed by October Baby.     What do the two films have in common?

Well, in The Avengers, one character is discussing his brother with a group of friends.  One character mentions the brother's faults, and the initial character says, "He's adopted."    GRRRR!    Adoptism!

October Baby is a film about an adoptee who discovers, as a young college student, that she was adopted.  She tries to find her birth mother.   I don't want to say much else and spoil the film for you, but unlike most Christian films, this one really wasn't corny or cheesy or obviously low-budget.   I found it to be fairly accurate and moving. 

Last week I also stopped pumping (see last post), I've been e-mailing the social worker about our homestudy, and I've been cleaning out and organizing our adoption paperwork from past adoptions.


Honestly, this week I've been off my game.    I feel agitated, impatient, and a bit, well, just off.     Tired.   Anxious.   

When I start to put the focus on myself (my feelings about adoption, for example), something inevitably happens that reminds me to stop.  Breathe.  Think.

There's another person out there, someone who is facing an extraordinarily difficult choice:  parent or place.      

That someone is the birth mother of our future child.

She may be pregnant right now, or not yet, or she may have already had a baby she's going to place.

So many unknowns.

But what I know is this:

I'm incredibly fortunate that we can afford to adopt.

I'm incredibly fortunate to have the children I do.

I'm incredibly fortunate that I have the privilege of praying for a mother and a baby I have yet to meet.

And I'm incredibly selfish to put the focus on myself. 


What are you thinking about today?  Any humbling adoption thoughts?  Emotions?  Where are you at today, friend?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Adoptive Breastfeeding

UPDATE:    Well, my internet has been funky all day, so I'm just now posting this.   I pumped for two and half days.   Then I learned the extent of the FBI and DCFS contract conflict in our lovely state of Illinois, which means it might be longer than expected for us to be able to adopt.     So the pumping is on hold.

Here's what I want to say:

1:  Please read the original post below.     I stand by everything I said!

2:  My consultant made a great point:  Breastfeeding is about a relationship, not about milk.    I stand by this as I put the pumping/breastfeeding on hold for now.

3:  I am not willing to pump for months on end with no due date, no end to this state nonsense, and with no match.     It's time-consuming, and to be perfectly honest, I am SO tired from staying up until 11 p.m. to pump and then getting up at 3 a.m. to pump.

4:  It wasn't painful to pump at all, and my consultant says pumping or breastfeeding shouldn't be painful.  If it is, you need to get help on fixing the issue.  

5:  I encourage you, if you are tinkering with the idea, to give it a whirl.    If it weren't for all this legal drama, I would probably continue.

I continue to welcome your comments and thoughts!  You all have been a tremendous blessing and source of encouragement!


Arguably, adoptive breastfeeding is one of the most taboo topics in the adoption realm.     I think this is the case for a few reasons:

1:  Some just think it's outright strange.  Breastfeed a child who isn't biologically yours?   

2:  Some think you haven't earned it.  If you can't conceive, or go through 9 months of pregnancy, or give birth, then why do you think you deserve to breastfeed?  Earn your right to breastfeed, sister.

3:  Some think breastfeeding in general is gross/unnatural/strange/inappropriate/inconvenient, so adoptive breastfeeding.....

4:  Some don't know it's even possible, so when they hear of it, the initial reaction isn't positive.

5:  Some people are uncomfortable with anything that isn't within their own experience.

6:  Some people believe that birth parents would be deeply hurt knowing that their child is being breastfed by the adoptive mother.    Some also believe birth parents should be involved in the decision of the adoptive baby being breastfed or not.  

7:  Insert your own thoughts here.

I have contemplated breastfeeding for over four years now.  I didn't vocalize it much, because I wanted to avoid judgement (which is funny since we adopted transracially, and I don't care if someone has a problem with it).  

There is only one fairly-current book dedicated to adoptive breastfeeding:   Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby and Relactation.     Many breastfeeding books touch on the topic, but generally, very lightly.    There's also the Newman-Goldfarb method where the mother is encouraged to take certain medications and follow a particular set of techniques to induce lactation.    This book on attachment and this book on breastfeeding are also helpful.    (Note: Martha Sears, wife of Dr. William Sears, is an adoptive mother and breastfed her adopted daughter.)  Finally, my own breastfeeding consultant, Dee Kassing, published a fantastic article on a bottle-feeding method that supports breastfeeding.   (My sources say that many adoptive mothers do not make enough milk to exclusively breastfeed, so these moms have to supplement with alternative ways of feeding, be it bottles or an SNS).     

Here's what I've learned, in a nutshell:

1:  Inducing lactation, even if you've never been pregnant, is probably quite possible, but it can be extra challenging.

2:  Breastfeeding, even if NO milk is produced, is still beneficial for the mother and the baby.

3:  If you're adopting, you are already in the realm of "abnormal," so don't worry about what other people think and do what you want with your baby.  :)    (Get some inspriration here.)

4:  There ARE people who will support you.  The first person who needs to support you, if you go the breastfeeding route, is your partner.  The second person is your consultant (be it your doctor, a LeLeche leader, another lactation consultant, etc.).   Finally, you need others (friends and family---some, not all) to support your choice.  

(Note:  The best advice I got from a fellow adoptive mom when we were waiting to adopt transracially and needed to tell our nearest-and-dearest that we were open to a child of any race was this:  Tell with confidence; don't ask permission.     I think the same can be applied to adoptive breastfeeding.   You want support, so you may say, "We are choosing adoptive breastfeeding, and I hope I have your support."   Offer resources if prompted or if you think it would be helpful).  

Here are my personal fears:

1:  My diabetes.  Always.  My diabetes.  (Did I mention my diabetes?)

2:  Having two small children in the house already.   Is it possible to effectively breastfeed and care for two other children?  I also worry how fair it is to give a new baby so much mommy-time (more than I would having bottle fed) when I already have two children who need my attention.  And my husband generally did many of the middle-of-the-night feedings with our first two; will he be missing out on his bonding time if I snatch so much of the baby's time? 

3:  Sleep.  I don't just love to sleep.  I NEED to sleep.  People who sleep well weigh less, are overall healthier, and are more productive.  Oh yes, and they are in better moods.  :)

4:   Convenience.  I know, I know.  The age-old argument is that you don't need a bottle; just whip out the breast and feed the kid.   But it's likely I'll need to do both (breast and bottle feed), so it's almost extra inconvenient.  And I love convenience.  I hate time gaps, driving long distances, waiting.  basically, I'm impatient and demanding.   Though I've grown a bit better with time, I'm still me.

What I know is:

1:  I really want to do this.   I have wanted to for four years.  I don't know how many kids we'll adopt, but I don't want this chance to pass me by.

2:  Breastfeeding will force me to bond with my new baby quicker than if I (or any nearby person who wants to help a desperate mom of three) pop a bottle in the baby's mouth (perhaps propped up by laundry-waiting-to-be-folded). 

3:  It's healthier for the baby than formula.  (I know, I know.  Formula has come SUCH a long way; it's healthy; babies across the world are fed formula every day and are fine.)     My oldest daughter received milk from my sister-in-law for the first month of my daughter's life.   I strongly believe this great start has helped my oldest daughter continue to grow up healthy.    Maybe the breastmilk helped her with the potential family allergy issues?  I'd like to believe it did! 

4:  Babies grow up SO fast.   There's only a small window of opportunity when adoptive breastfeeding is possible for any given child.  (THIS IS THE THING I KEEP REMINDING MYSELF OF.....)

5:  I don't carry much at all about what other people think.   I'm confident in my choices.  If someone has a problem with my decisions, he or she is spending too much time focusing on me and not on himself or herself.     (I did consider NOT blogging about this.  Is it TMI?   Will anyone care?  Will I lose readers if I start throwing around the b words like breastfeeding and breasts and bras?)

6:  There are always options.   I'm not up for taking any drugs to induce lactation.   Some mothers swear by it, but I'm incredibly picky about what I put into my body (thank you, diabetes!).   My consultant has shared with me that by pumping, along with some other natural procedures (hand expression, herbs, along with my own belief in positive thinking and visualization), it's possible to produce milk.  (BIG SIGH OF RELIEF).      And again, even if I don't produce anything, it's ok! 

I'd love to hear from you.  What do you think about adoptive breastfeeding?  Have you done it?  Considered it?  Researched it?   Why was it (or why wasn't it) for you?   

For more inspiration, check out these articles found on Adoptive Families website:

How I Was (Sort of) Able to Breastfeed

What You Need to Know to Breastfeed Your Baby

Nursing School

Nursing Matthew

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wanna Share? : Submit Your Guest Blog Post Idea


I want to invite you to submit your guest blog post idea to me, via e-mail, for consideration.   I love hearing your various perspectives, and I know we all benefit from the village we create!

So, send me an e-mail (whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com) with "guest blog post" as the subject line.   Give me your first name, location, and status (adoptive mom of three, for example).  (Birth parents, adoptees, and adoption professionals are welcome to submit, as well as family members of birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents.)    Let me know, in a few lines, what your proposed guest blog post topic is.    I'll let you know if the topic is a good match for my blog.

Topics of interest:

---toys, games, movies for brown-skinned kids (even extensive lists of items, such as dolls for children of color---which would be great in November right before Christmas!)
---tips on adopting transracially
---open adoption
---adopting for the first time
---coping with school projects
---dealing with those who are naive about adoption (perhaps your child's teacher, for example)
---celebrating diversity
---coping with a child's adoption struggles
---special needs adoption

Topics that won't be selected:

---long, personal adoption journey stories
---posts promoting unethical adoption practices
---posts promoting particular agencies or other adoption professionals
---posts promoting religious beliefs that contradict general Christian values

The more narrow your topic, the more likely your blog post will be selected.

If your post is chosen, you can include a short bio (including a link to your adoption blog, FB page, etc.).    

You won't be compensated for your contribution, besides the warm fuzzies you get.  ;) 

I look forward to your ideas!  

Monday, October 15, 2012


Any adoptive parent knows that the journey isn't easy.  First, you have to get to the point where you wait for a match/referral.   This means you have to be deemed "approved" through a series of "tests."    Fingerprinted like criminals, for example.    Then once you are waiting, you are anxiously facing times where you may not be chosen by a prospective birth parent or when your agency doesn't match you with a particular child.   You might see those around you getting matched or receiving referrals (or other friends getting pregnant)...and you think, "Why them?"  And, "Why not me?"

I have scolded (nicely) other adoptive parents in the past for saying, essentially, "Woe-is-me." 

Here's my reasoning:

1:  The adoptive parents' biggest adoption hardship, waiting, disappears once the child arrives.  (Yes, I recognize that adoption struggles do not end once a placement occurs).

2:  Adoptive parents are the "winners" among members of the adoption triad.  Bio parents lose their child to adoption, even when it's voluntary; the loss never subsides.    Adoptees have no choice.  They do not choose to be separated from their biological family members (and even though this separation might be warranted, due to abuse or neglect, for example, it wasn't, still, the adoptee's choice).

3:  Adoptive parents get to become parents and "move on."    Though there is usually loss that leads adoptive parents to the adoption decision, birth parents can never FULLY "move on" because a piece of them is always going to be missing, even in the most positive of adoption situations. 

Basically, I believe that if God leads a person or couple to adopt, an adoption WILL happen.   There's end in sight for these individuals and couples.

It's so easy, as adoptive parents, to put the focus on ourselves.  WE want a child.  WE paid for a very expensive adoption process.  WE have been "through the ringer" (paperwork, home visits, etc.).  WE have been suffering from infertility/miscarriage/disease/disability/etc. for years and years.   WE are tired of seeing all of our friends have biological babies (maybe even three or four kids) while WE have none.   WE are sick of people asking us when we'll have or adopt a child.

Now, before you write me a comment telling me what's up....hear me out.

I'm guilty of doing what I despise---putting the focus on me and my feelings.

Since we've been waiting to adopt, which has been about four weeks now, we've been presented with three potential adoption situations.    One we didn't agree to be "shown" for, one we said "yes" to being shown but a birth family relative stepped in to parent the baby, and the last one, which happened very recently, resulted in a different family being chosen.

I found myself thinking, why weren't we chosen?   Isn't our profile book good enough?  Maybe we should play up my disease sob-story a bit, because that really is why we are adopting.     Maybe there should be more emphasis on the fact that though we have two kids, we value each child individually, not just as "one of the flock."  Maybe I should be more clear that I stay at home 95% of the time and my job is just a very small part of my life...

How do we combat rejection?  How do we not feel somehow unworthy of being chosen?    How do we take the spotlight off ourselves?

I'm mad at myself for "going there."   For putting any focus on myself.   

So how do you combat the rejection? The worthiness or worthlessness you might be feeling?

1:  Remember that it's OK to get mad, be confused, feel hurt, be disappointed.   It's OK.  In fact, it's normal.   BUT, it's only OK to be this way for a short season.    Don't let your feelings dominate your heart or take over your mind.

2:  Step back and reflect on the situation.    But don't think you'll ever truly understand why what did/didn't happen did or didn't happen.    It's really not necessary that you know.

3:  Put the focus back on the family you do have----be it your spouse and other kids and parents and siblings.     Don't put your life (your thoughts, your emotional energy, your time) into "what could have been" or "what if."     Your family deserves better.

4:  Take some time to veg and re-group.   It's fine to take a few days to get yourself together.   Treat yourself to some Starbucks or a glass of your favorite wine, watch a movie, read a good book (NOT an adoption book!!!), buy a trashy celeb mag, go out with friends, etc.  

5:  Get re-focused.    I quickly realized, with our most recent situation, that I'd forgotten something I learned and committed to long ago.  Sometimes my involvement/awareness of an adoption situation occurs solely so that I can be in prayer for the bio parents, the baby, the agency, and the chosen adoptive family.    

This very popular Bible passage is what I need to focus on today, and I hope you will take a moment to read it and apply it to adoption.      Love isn't limited to the child who will be ours.  Maybe we need to love those we don't even know.  Respect the choices biological parents make, even when it's not in your "favor."    Trust that God has a child for you.    Take time to take advantage of these moments when there isn't a new child in your family.    LOVE your way through the journey.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Learn More about Our Family's Journey

Special thanks to Howard University for interviewing us on transracial adoption!   Listen here!

Monday, October 8, 2012

More Random Goodness: Bedding, Food, and Support Groups

Is it just me, or could this new fabulous bedding from Land of Nod be considered brown-girl worthy?   Too bad the quilt is $189....

I'm interested in cooking up some soul food for my fam, but being a bit of a health nut and food snob, I'm struggling.   I did find this fabulous book at my local library, plus this book from my own collection.  Perhaps there's hope? 

Finally, I was recently asked by one of my readers, Gaby, about the support group I facilitate.   What happens at a meeting?  How do we coordinate it all?

I'm writing this from the prospective of the group facilitator speaking to a future group facilitator. 

Here are the basics:

1:  Find out how many people might be interested. 

2:  Get them connected in one place such as an email list or a closed (private) FB page.

3:  Ask when the best time to meet is.   Based on the responses, pick a meeting date and time.   (My group meets once a month on a Sunday night at dinnertime). 

4:  Pick a place to meet.  Due to the delicate nature of discussions, choose somewhere with privacy.  If it's in someone's home, make sure there's a quiet, kid-free zone to meet.  If it's in a restaurant or community facility, meet in a private, closed-off area.  (My group meets at a local cafe).

5:   Find out what group members want from the group and who can be invited to meetings.   Do you want to have speakers?  A topic-of-the-meeting?   Do you want to have a membership fee?   Officers?  Who can come to meetings?  Those adopting internationally?  Domestically? Via foster care?   Those simply interested in adopting?  Those waiting to adopt?   Family members who wish to offer support?  Birth parents?  Adoptees?   (My group has guest speakers a few times a year, but mostly, it's open-conversation and eating.   Any female who has adopted, is waiting to adopt, or is interested in adopting may attend.   Adoptees and birth parents are welcome).

6:  If you want to get the word out about your group, do so!   Use "business" cards, fliers, online posts, blogs, etc.     Let local adoption agencies and lawyers know about your group.  

7:  Be open to change.    Some members will come and go, some will come once and not come back, and some will be there for the long-haul.    You may need to change where you meet, when you meet, and how you meet.   

What goodness have you come across recently?  Send me suggestions at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Set your DVR for Tomorrow Night!

Steel Magnolias is my favorite movie of all time.  It's Southern, it's about a type I diabetic, and it's about friendship.

And now, the film has an all-Black cast in the re-make which will be on tomorrow evening (Oct 7) on Lifetime.  Set your DVR and support this fab cast actors! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Let the Christmas Shopping Begin (or Continue)

I recently received a catalog in the mail from Personal Creations, a company that sells items that can be, yes, personalized.     Some of their items feature Asian, Hispanic, African American, and Caucasian options!

Here a few of my favorites:

Sweet Angel's Mug

Ballerina Backpack

Rag Doll items

Dancer Ornaments  (although, I note that it's funny how the African American ornament options are the hip hop dancers.....sigh)

Professionals Ornaments

American Girl has a new Just Like Me Doll who is brown-skinned with dark brown hair that is textured!  Yay! 

Pottery Barn Kids is once again has stockings featuring kids of color

Talk to me!  Where can you get Christmas goodies featuring kids of color?