Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pink or Blue: How About You?

In the past year or so, since we adopted Baby E, we've been asked multiple times, "Didn't you want a boy?" or "Will you get a boy next?"

Let me be clear:   My husband and I do not feel right choosing the sex of our child.   Just as we didn't feel right choosing our child's race, or if we'd take twins or not.   

Why do we not "feel right" selecting which sex we are open to when adopting domestically?   Because that means we are closed to another.

I often wonder, how would an expectant mother, one who is considering adoption, feel if she learned that a prospective adoptive couple wasn't interested in adopting her baby because the baby wasn't the "right" sex?   

I understand, to some extent, that if a family's children are all boys or all girls, that they might desire a child of the opposite sex.      Maybe their home has been showered in toy trains and baseballs and Transformers for years, and a little "sugar and spice" might be welcomed.    Or maybe a family of girls would like to experience raising a boy.   I think the curiosity and desire for something (or someone) new is natural.

But, that doesn't make it "right." 

I'm not sure when adoption became like a fast-food experience; place your order, wait for it, and ding! it comes up as your ordered.    Adoption is a consumer-driven industry.  Adoptive parents hold a lot of power because they fund the industry; therefore, they are also able to make demands that agencies often do not deny (or that they often welcome) because they don't want to tick off the people who fund their business.

I understand that in some circumstances, there are children of a certain sex, disability, or race that are much more available and in need of homes than another.     Particularly, in international and foster adoption.  In foster care adoption, there are large sibling groups, many of them minority children, waiting for forever families. 

I also agree that there are some unique situations, such as one mama I know, a single woman, who felt raising a girl was reasonably the best decision given that she knew she could "role model" being a woman to her daughter, but who would be a role model to a son should she adopt one?   I also understand and agree with one set of friends of ours who live in a rural area with no African Americans (complete with an active chapter of the KKK), who didn't have the opportunity (job-wise) to move, and therefore, were only open to a Caucasian child.     I think these friends of ours made the best choices they could in their realities.

But I think adoptive families, we walk a fine line.   Adoption, at it's heart, is a selfish choice.   I wanted to be a mother, so we adopted.    Period.   Along the way we tried to make prayerful, selfless choices, but were we always successful?  I don't know.    Because what the heart wants isn't always what is right.  

Adoptive families need to carefully and prayerfully enter into adoption and all that the process involves.  There are many choices to be made---open or closed, which races of children, medical needs, etc.---and those choices affect many people, even people we will never meet.

Adopting is a journey like none other, and I hope each of us can enter into the process boldly and with the conviction to always do what is right.   

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Favorite Adoption Books

I have a listing of my favorite adoption resources, but as I go through them, I am sure there are many more out there.  Share with me your favorite adoption book (or two or three) and why it's a must-read. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why We Adopted

 Miss E admiring her shadow
Baby E checking out the melting snow


It is often assumed that Steve and I adopted because of infertility.   This is not the case.      We adopted because in March of 2006, I was diagnosed with type I diabetes.   Type I diabetes is incurable, only manageable.    I'm not going to sugarcoat (no pun intended) this disease; it's 24/7/365, and it's really really really difficult.    This March will mark my six year D-Day anniversary

Pregnancy with type I is challenging, to say the least.   I have long struggled with hormone shifts and my blood sugars.     Pregnancy is one constant hormone shift.   The potential complications of pregnancy with type I diabetes are scary.   And there is a small (but significant, when it's your family!) risk of passing type I diabetes on to biological children.    (In fact, I know someone with type I who has four children.  All four children have type I). 

I felt like having biological children, knowing my reality, would be selfish of me.    Does biology really matter?    There are children who need homes.    Adoption was an option for us---financially speaking.   

We were questioned, numerous times, when we announced we wanted to adopt.  "Don't you want your own?" or   "Maybe after you adopt you can try for your own kids?"  Or my favorite, "I know someone with diabetes who had six biological kids with no issues!" followed by arched eyebrows indicating that he or she was waiting for me to embrace them and say, "You are so right!  Forget about adoption!"    

The greatest sadness in my heart wasn't from saying "goodbye" to the idea of sonograms and an expanding tummy and wondering if the baby would have my good looks (wink) or my husband's.  Rather, my sadness came from the assumption by the general public that adoptive families are second-class, less-than, to biological families.  

The woman I call Grandma isn't my biological grandmother.    She became my Grandma through a series of family events----many of them quite sad and depressing and revolting----that led my parents to the people I call my grandparents, the people whom I have no biological connection to.   Did it matter to me?  No.   I wanted someone to say, "I'm proud of you," someone to tease me, someone to shower me with affection and gifts and Sunday dinners and open arms.  My grandparents provided that voluntarily---thank God.     Do I feel that I missed out on not having my biological grandparents do these things for me?    Honestly, no.    

When we were deciding between having biological kids and adopting, it really came down to my disease.   Were we willing to take the gamble?  To put my health and our future child's health on the line for the sake of biology?  The answer was no.  

I do know women with type I who have had healthy pregnancies and healthy children, like my friend Kerri over at Six Until Me and Amy who wrote a phenomenal book called  The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes (which I was interviewed for---an contributed info on adoption as an option for diabetic women).   Each diabetic journey is very different, and these two women, along with many others, were able to successfully have biological children.   

But it wasn't the right or best choice for me.

Now that we have two kids, no one asks why we adopted.  The kids are here with us, and we are a pretty fab family.   United we stand.  :)

My heart hurts for families facing infertility.   But I want to say that having children isn't a right; it's a gift.   And sometimes that gift comes in ways we don't plan for or initially embrace.    

I didn't want diabetes.   I wouldn't wish this disease----the constant testing and doc appointments, the highs and lows, the never-ending awareness that I am not normal---on my worst enemy.  It can be insanely depressing, daunting, and debilitating.     But, without it I wouldn't have chose adoption, and I wouldn't have my girls.

Choosing adoption shouldn't be something people pity or surrender to or sigh and say, "Ok.  Fine.  If there's no other way...."    Adoption is what it is---different.  Unique.   Exciting.   Rewarding.   It's possibility, it's joy, and it's love.   

I'll close with this:

Each morning I have the privilege of getting my daughters up and out of bed.   My Baby E's breathing becomes increasingly rapid as I approach her crib, and she says, "MAMAMAMAMA!"     Sometimes she grins, or sometimes she's ready for breakfast and fusses.   I then go to her sister's room.  Miss E is usually perched on the side of her bed.  Sometimes she immediately tells me a story or shares a thought or asks a questions.  Other times she directs all her attention to her sister and says, "Good morning!  Did you have a good rest?"   This is Baby E's cue to either squirm away from her sister's grasp or fully embrace it---mouth wide open---bestowing a slobbery kiss on the side of her sister's face.   We head to the kitchen where I prepare their favorite whole wheat waffles.  The day begins---fresh and full of possibilities, opportunities, and moments-turned-memories.  

Bliss.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hair Hair Hair: Part I

Black hair.

A topic of much debate and opinion.  

When does a mom's obsession with keeping her daughter's hair in tact become detrimental to the kid's childhood?  

What I mean is, Miss E loves to play dress up.  She puts three headbands on, or a conductor hat, or a tie (like her daddy wears to work).   She's always messing up her hair in the name of creative play.      Or if she's not messing it up, someone else is---be it an adult who casually fondles her locks or a little kid sitting next to her in dance class.     And any time and energy I have spent styling Miss E's hair is lost--just like that---in a nanosecond. 

I want my daughter to fit in with peers of her same race.    She'll already face some discrimination for having a white mom, but a white mom who can't care for her hair?     But what if it's not that I can't care for her hair, but that I choose to let her be free to be herself---even if that means she messes it up by wearing three headbands or does a few somersaults on the floor while playing with friends?  

What do you think?

One little girl in Miss E's preschool is biracial (AA/CA).  She has super short hair.  Her mom said that the little girl hates having her hair done, even combed, so the mom keeps it very short so it's manageable.   I admire this mom's decision.  

A recent article on one of my favorite websites, My Brown Baby, talks about how some black women would rather protect their hair than their health.    This is a topic that is very important to me.  Being a diabetic, I understand how crucial exercise is to the health of all people, brown ladies included.

Talk to me, readers.   What do you think?

----

There will be more hair posts coming this February!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blog On Twitter

For updates on relevant adoption info and new blog postings, follow me at whitebrownsugar. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the Move: Simplicity Inspires Peace

AHHHHHHH!

Steve and I made the decision to put our house on the market.  We are ready to move to a bigger home (so I can adopt a dozen more kids----as I tell Steve in a teasing, but not really kidding, manner) in a better school district.  The current plan is to send our kids to public school when they are old enough.  Private schools around here are mostly-white (like 99%) and pricey.  We don't see ourselves forking over big bucks to send multiple children to a private school.   

So, after Christmas I started de-cluttering.   I stripped our rooms of most of their accessories---pictures, vases, knick-knacks, wall-art, etc.    I moved the living room furniture to be more symmetrical.   I packed away unused towels, sheets, blankets, kitchen appliances, etc. to make our cabinets and closets appear more spacious.   

I love a good project. 

I am one who feels better when my house in clean and tidy.  It gives me this weird sense of peace.  If my house is in order, life seems to be more in order.    I can breathe deeper and sleep more soundly.   Yep, I'm totally serious.  I used to think it was a little nuts, until I read Chasing God and the Kids Too where author Cheryl Carter said what I was already feeling...that some women feel better when their house is in order. 

I try to not let my mind go there with this whole moving thing....you know, where I start thinking adoption-style:  what if, but, possible, what if, me, me, me, panic, what if, make the call, pester, me, sulk.      I started worrying about church (would we change churches being that our current one would be 30 minutes from where we are moving to?), preschools (racially diverse, affordable, half-days, good curriculum, great teachers, close by, etc.), details (switch over utilities, forward our mail, find a new doctor, etc.).  I can drive myself crazy.   

Instead, I'm trying to approach the possibility of moving with a sound mind, a grateful heart, and hope.   If it's meant to be, it will happen.   

And as I pack away more items, donate that which we do not need or use, and reflect on the wonderful memories we created in this home, I'm feeling more and more at peace.     I like that we have made a decision.  I'm excited about moving into a new home (I mean, picking out paint colors alone has me giddy!).   I wonder what this next chapter in our lives will reveal.  

I'm ready for this new home.   We are very picky.  VERY.   Like one of those annoying couples on House Hunters who has a list of twenty-five "must haves" on their list.    Big yard, 4-5 bedrooms, fabulous kitchen, open floor plan, three car garage, pool, etc.  And again, I see where my human heart is stepping in.   Where I am getting annoyingly greedy and self-serving.     Part of our reason for moving is to have more bedrooms so we can adopt more children.    Do some of the "must haves" really matter?   Which house does God want us to have and for what purpose? 

See.  I'm already annoying myself again.  ;)

Step back.  Breathe.   Chill.  One step at a time.  

Moving is a really big deal.   But God already has it all figured out.    And I believe there's a lot of good stuff coming our way.  

Ready?  Set?  

GO.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Big 3-0!

Today is my b-day, and I'm 30! 




At 30….

I’m still pretty selfish.   (But at least now I’m more aware of it and am trying to combat it).

I need 8 hours of sleep a night or else…

I love herbal tea.

I need down/alone time every day to function at my best.

I dislike drama (save it for your mama…haha).

I can’t stand people who don’t take responsibility for their choices (put on your big girl panties and DEAL!).

I love house porn---you know, all the pictures of houses and decor that will come true someday when I'm really really rich.  :)

I wish I were 10 lbs lighter, but I’m pretty proud of how well I manage my disease and all that my body has done for me, so I’m trying not to complain.

I wish I liked running.

I can’t cook good pancakes b/c I’m too impatient to cook them right.

I’m a vegetarian (95% of the time). 

I'm an organic food fanatic.

I haven’t talked on my cell phone while driving for almost two years now.

Cigarettes, long finger nails, ham, and cats disgust me.

I’m a mother, something I wasn’t four years ago.

I’m passionate about adoption and good health.

I wish I could sew really well and enjoy it.

I still suck at painting my fingernails, so if I do, I use a shimmery, light color so mistakes aren’t obvious.

I need to learn to chill out.

I’m comfortable with my diabetes and I’ve fully accepted it.

I can’t stand watching sports, crime shows, or anything on MTV besides Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant.

I love getting magazines in my mailbox.

I feel most at peace when my kids are playing nicely together, my husband is home from work, the house is clean, and I have no student essays to grade.

A swimming pool is my summer salvation.

I don’t know what my writing future holds, but I hope it’s something really awesome (like a book???).

I’m fairly confident, and I hope to instill confidence in my girls.

I love couponing.  It’s my new hobby.

I wish I could take better photographs.

I’m trying to be more mindful and relaxed.

I suck at empathy.   I think people should just suck it up.    I get that that isn’t totally healthy.

I love fruit, soup, homemade bread and real butter.

Baking=bliss.

I love buying and receiving gifts.

Dancing is a life necessity.

Focusing on God---prayer, Bible reading, thinking---that is the best way to live life.

I struggle to share my faith with others b/c I try too hard to plan my next move.

I struggle with self-promotion vs. educating others on my passions/convictions.

I really like Facebook…a lot.

I believe in the power of personal choice.  If you don’t like something, change it.  But quit complaining.

I’m interested in African American history.

I’ve met a few famous people---but most notable, the writer Nicholas Sparks.

I love watching the same few movies over and over:  Steel Magnolias, Dark Knight, Erin Brockovich

Cheese fries, funnel cakes, and brownies----yum---but not a good idea.

Tape measures scare me.

I love to vacuum my floors.

Snakes are my #1 fear.

Give me a beach and a sunny day (but not too hot!), and you’ve got a happy girl.

I want to adopt more kids---maybe even a lot more.  Gulp.

My husband and I were made for each other.    He is perfect for me.  

I am ready to be 30, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!    

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big Families

After Michelle Duggar's miscarriage was made public, I read and heard a lot of buzz. Mostly, the response was, "Why is she having so many kids?" (Nothing new, right?)

As a mother, first and foremost I feel for Michelle and her loss. I cannot imagine losing a child. People tend to minimize her loss because she has so many children and because she was "only" in her second trimester. I also heard and read comments about Michelle's age---like how dare she have a baby at her age?!? It's like some believe Michelle is a greedy woman who hoards babies, and she got what she deserved by having something bad happen to her. I don't understand.

Big families seem to be the rage right now, at least on TLC. :) The public is fascinated by large families and families who are unique in other ways (like on the shows Little People, Big World, The Little Couple, Sister Wives, or Kate Plus 8).

At the end of the day, many families are uniquely created. We (as adoptive parents) do not like when people judge our families. We are often asked, "Could you not have your own?" (As if biological children are better than adopted children?) It's heartbreaking at times what people will ask in front of my girls---as if they are not RIGHT THERE, as if they do not have value, as if they are not real people with feelings.

We all should be very careful what we think and what we say aloud. There's a lot of judgemental pollution regarding families that permeates the minds and hearts of our little ones. No matter how each child came to be, even if he or she came about in a way we do not agree with, at the end of the day a child is a child. One who is precious in His sight.

I really respect the Duggar family. They seem to handle each situation in their lives with grace and faith. Are they perfect? No. But I think their family is beautiful and big and an example of how faithful parents can raise responsible, loving, and generous children.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Random Goodness: Photos From Our Home

 One thing that drives me crazy is when people say my daughter is too young for me to worry about race and diversity.   Look at this collection.  Miss E sorts her Little People according to their features.  In fact, she loves finding "matches."  She says she matches a little girl in her class who is also brown, for example, or that she matches the puppy next door who is brown like her.   
 This is a pic from a magazine on how to organize books.  I thought it was so clever...so I tried it on my girls' hardcover book collection.
 Ta-da!  
 My girls brushing their teeth.   
 Miss E's Christmas cookie decorating adventure.  Is it possible to ever have too many sprinkles on a cookie?    (Yes, there is a cookie under there).
Surprise snow day right after C-mas.  My girls enjoyed crawling through the snow while licking it.   So sweet! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Acceptance

I have many titles under my Resources page on diversity.    Many of the titles suggested talk about skin color differences, disability, unique family makeup---but whatever the topic, it all comes back to the idea that we should embrace people as they are and that, deep down, we are all human.

I want my girls be accepted for who they are---including being brown-skinned and adopted.   The world says that being adopted is either strange, extra special, or in vogue---but to me, adoption is none of those things.    The world also says that being brown-skinned means you are less beautiful and more dangerous than lighter-skinned people.    

I really appreciate what these authors try to do---to unify the readers, to teach them that the beauty of people is in their differences.    However, I question how much of these ideas crosses over into a society with no moral compass.  

I do believe every person has value.   I believe, as a pastor once said, that every person in this world is someone for whom Christ died.     I do believe that God loves every person---regardless of his or her skin color, family makeup, education, capabilities, etc. 

But, the Bible is clear that there is sin in the world, and God hates sin.  Sin separates from God.   So when we embrace anyone, does that also mean we embrace anything?  As in "anything goes" and "whatever floats your boat" is fine?

The authors of the titles I suggest often have a line or two that includes adoption among people's unique circumstances (which we should embrace).     But to parallel adoption with a religion, for example, that directly conflicts with my faith, well, then what?    Most of these books do it.   Yet, I want my girls to know that there are many kinds of people, and no matter what, we should love them all.  That doesn't mean we are ok with their choices.

This brings to mind the old saying I heard often growing up:  "Love the sinner, hate the sin."  

Difficult balance, and, furthermore, something very challenging to teach young children.

What do you think?  Is the "love everyone" message in diversity and acceptance books a good idea?   Do you have any moral conflicts that prevent you from reading these books to your kids?   

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book of the Month: January

This month, check out my latest find:   Gyo Fujikawa's Little Library.    These mini board books, four in total, feature kids of all races drawn in darling vintage-style.     These books are perfect for little hands and for story time that is short and sweet.  The price is just right:  $6.95.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

Welcome to a new year!

I hope 2011 was full of laughter, love, and pleasant surprises, but if it wasn't, I'm sure you have enjoyed turning your calendar to a new year and anticipating bigger and better things. 

A few thoughts/tips/questions for my readers:

  • Instead of making one NY resolution which is so difficult to obtain, how about one resolution a month?   This way you know you only have to stick to your goal for 30 days, yet you can remind yourself that it only takes 21-28 days to change a bad habit.  :)    My goal for January is to only check Facebook once a day.    That place is such a time sucker!

  • What do you want to change?  Make a list, but don't tackle it at once.   Prioritize and figure out one goal for the month.    For me, I'd love to keep my kitchen counter tops clean---free of papers, dirty dishes, etc.   This will be quite a challenge, but it can be done!

  • What was great about 2011 that you'd like to continue in 2012?  What didn't work so well that you need to say farewell to?

  • Now is a great time to purge, store, or donate.    Purge those items that no one can or will use (broken, torn, very outdated---and not in a vintage-cool kind of way, etc.)---recycle when you can.   Store any items you wish to keep (storage bins are on sale everywhere this time of year) in clearly-labeled bins.   Donate items you and your family do not need, have outgrown, etc. to a local charity.   And then...ahhhhh...rest.