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