Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ask Me! + Win A Copy of My Book

One thing I love about being an adoption blogger is the joy of receiving e-mails from readers asking questions about adoption and transracial parenting.

So, for all you new readers, shoot me an e-mail at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com asking your burning question.  If you would like me to share the question and answer in an upcoming blog post, let me know.  I won't publish your name or any personal information.  :)

Also, hop on over to The Open Adoption Bloggers page and enter for a chance to win a copy of my book.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

D-Day Anniversary

On Sunday, I will celebrate (if that's the right word to use?) my seven-year diabetes diagnosis anniversary.

I'm always very uneasy the entire month of March.    Usually I start the month off feeling overwhelmed and anxious and I can't figure out why...then I remember...

I remember during Thanksgiving of 2004.  It was my first break from my first semester of grad school:  teaching my first section of composition, working in a tutoring center, and taking my first two grad school classes.  The break offered a breath of fresh air).   Steve and I headed up north to visit family in the Chicago area.   The day after Thanksgiving, I ventured out with my mom, sister, aunt, and cousins.   We went to store after store, fighting crowds, laughing at the most outrageous items, snacking.   A headache crept up.  First mild, then severe.   I had to sit on a mannequin display in Target.  (It takes a lot for this girl to sit down during a shopping trip.)   My mom bought some Tylenol and gave me two.   It didn't help.  After we got back to my aunt and uncle's, I began to experience chills and throbbing stomach pain that intensified greatly overnight and continued through the next day as we traveled home.   My stomach spasmed so painfully I couldn't catch my breath.    I couldn't eat for a few days, dropping a few pounds, which usually is every girl's dream.

A few days later I was feeling better and jumped right back into my usual routine.  Immediately after Christmas break, I propelled into my second semester of grad school, teaching two classes this time.   All I did was grade papers, prep for class, read, study, and write.    I spent hours locked up in my home office, books and papers scattered all over the floor.

Then summer came.   Steve and I went to Disney World in May.   It was a lovely trip.   But looking back on photos, I cannot believe how sick I looked.

Gradually, I began to get sicker and sicker.  It started with chronic sinus infections, weight loss, and fatigue.   In the later months, I was going to the bathroom constantly (even not making it sometimes in the middle of the night), losing more and more weight (down to a size 0 which was too big), extreme fatigue, and consuming an extraordinary amount of food and drink every day.  

It was a very desperate time for me.  I had seen five medical professionals over the 1.5 years I was sick.   I was diagnosed with anorexia, sinus issues, vision problems.   No one could help me.

I was drowning in my own body.   And no one was helping me.

March 24, 2006 was the day that changed the course of my life.

After arriving home from a medical appointment and having guzzled an orange drink, at ten-ish in the morning, I curled up on the couch for another one of my naps.  

I didn't hear my phone ring and ring and ring.

Finally, somehow, I woke up out of my fog and picked up my phone.  It was my husband.   He knew something was wrong.

I remember him asking me if I wanted him to call an ambulance.  I said no.  He said, "I'm coming home."

I awoke to him at my side, handing me my gym shoes.  We got in the car.  I didn't fight him as we drove to the ER.  I was panicked.  I couldn't catch my breath.   Must be my childhood asthma flaring up.  

Nurses in and out in and out.   I begged for drinks.   They invaded my veins again and again.  I was so cold.  I had every warm blanket available covering me.  The fluorescent lights were shining down upon me, angry and harsh.

Finally.  Finally.

A doctor burst into my room and said, "We know why you've been so sick.   You have a blood sugar of 700.  You have diabetes."   He left.

Wheeled up to the ICU.  Hooked up.  It's quiet in there and calm.  I get my own nurse. 

"You could have died," she said.

The visiting doctor tells me the same thing.

So does the nurse educator two days later.

I should have been dead.

Who survives 1.5 years of her body eating itself alive?  Sugar tearing through every vein, every organ, destroying, deteriorating, drowning.

Despite the blood pressure cuff squeezing my arm every thirty  minutes, reminding me I was now in a forever-prison of disease.  Despite blood test after blood test.  Despite the ugly as hell hospital gowns that were four sizes too big.  Despite the heart monitors that beeped and beeped and beeped and wouldn't leave me alone.  Despite two horrible roommates who robbed me of sleep for nights on end.   Despite having to learn to befriend needles and syringes and looks of disgust and shame.   Despite people telling me "at least it's not cancer" and saying if anyone could handle this beast of disease it was me.


Beat the odds.

I was relieved.   I was relieved.  I had an answer.  I had a name to give the madness.  I had management options.

Three days after my diagnosis, while curled up in the fetal position in a hospital bed while listening to my diabetes educator talk about insulin and carb counting and syringes...I heard God tell me one word loud and clear:


It's what I now realize I was able to cling to,  unknowingly, during those hellish nights when my blood sugar would plummet to 36 or days when people all around me would be happily bustling from place to place, sipping grande Starbucks drinks or chomping on greasy fries, while I saw another 300-something reading on my glucose meter.   I was able to cling to it when I organized glossy brochures entitled "Your Sick Day Plan" and "Counting Carbohydrates."  I was able to cling to it while I sat in sterile doctors' offices, surrounded by elderly people with oxygen tanks and baggies full of prescription pill bottles.  I was able to cling to it when lab reports arrived in the mail.  Each finger stick, each injection, each drop of insulin.   Each time I heard someone call me a "diabetic" or asked, for the 100th time, "Is your disease under control?"

I tackled diabetes with all I had. 

I want to win.   I don't every day. 

But occasionally a "100" will appear on my glucose monitor.   Or I'll spend a day eating so healthy that Dr. Oz might just show up and give me an award.   Or my energy level is so high, the sun is shining, and my kids are smiling.

This disease SUCKS.   It's a prison.  I'm never free.  I always have a heavy, heavy weight on my chest and a cloud over my head.  A storm is always brewing.   I'm never without worry.   I'm never certain if the flutter in my chest is because my sugar is going up or down or because I'm simply nervous or excited.   I see specialists.   I sit in waiting rooms with people three times my age.   Whiel everyone around me guzzles sodas and seemingly swallows donuts and burgers whole, I am trying to eat the organic salad.   

Every day is a fight.   Every day I tread water, desperate to stay afloat.

And the one and only thing that keeps me sane is the fact that I had and still have hope.

To call my disease a blessing is a joke most days.  But deep down, I know it's true.

Without diabetes, without my 1.5 years in medical hell and the climb up from that valley, I wouldn't have adopted my children.

I cannot imagine my life without them.

My disease reminds me how precious life is.   And how desperately I need God.   And how there's no way I ever could of planned a life this incredible.

I wouldn't have chosen diabetes, and I don't wish it upon my worst enemy.   

But I wouldn't trade my journey for anything.

It's a pretty sweet life. 


Monday, March 18, 2013

Bonding With a New Baby...When You Have Other Babies

"You've got your hands full."

Yeah, I know.  Thanks for telling me.  Thanks for reminding me that I need a lot of luck and prayer.   Thanks for noticing that my hair is a mess, my clothes hardly match, and that a little makeup wouldn't hurt.   Thanks for stopping me in the middle of the store to smile and share with me your personal views on my family.   Thanks.  A lot.

Well-meaning strangers approach me often, especially in stores where I'm soothing a fussy baby, re-directing an energetic toddler, and attempting to keep up with a busy preschooler.   The comment is always the same.  After a once-over, there's the smile, and then the...wait for it...

Yes.  I have my hands full.   I know better than anyone.

First, overall my sentiment is this:   love multiples with more children; love doesn't deplete or divide with more children.

BUT, what does deplete?  Time.  Energy.  Money.  Calmness.   Predictability.

When we got the call for Baby Z, we were thrilled.    The girls couldn't wait to have a baby brother, and their excitement only grew (and continues to grow) when he came home.    We arrived home, after being out of state for TEN days, exhausted.   We were ready to settle in, hibernate, and then, get back into a routine.

Steve and I discussed the other night how challenging it is to have time for just Baby Z.  After all, besides Steve working 10 hours a day and me keeping up with my book promotion, the house, and the basic needs of the kids, there's the extended needs of the kids.   Miss E wants to play school and wants me to practice writing letters and numbers with her.  Baby E is into EVERYTHING.  (If I could only bottle her energy and sell it...)    And it's winter.   Still.   And if it's even the slightest bit warm outside, it's raining.   And if we have playdates, they are cancelled due to illness.     So the kids, who are used to many many playdates every week, only have Steve and I to entertain them.

I'm pretty good about ignoring my kids.  :)  By that I mean, it's healthy (I strongly believe) for kids to have lots and lots of free time to get creative and learn through play.    I'm not one to hover over my children every second of every day. 

But I also balance their free time with time with us.   They crave our attention, our approval, our praise, and our discipline.  

Throw a new baby into the mix, and he's got to just go with the flow.  

But adoption, well, it's different.  There's no nine-month pregnancy where husband and wife attend ultrasound appointments together, sit side-by-side at a baby shower, stay up late at night eating craved-for ice cream and rubbing the mom's pregnant stomach. 

There's paperwork.  Phone calls.  E-mails.  Visits.   Court documents.  Lawyers.   Social workers.   There's a lot of official business. 

Then, one day.  Plop.  Into your arms.  Here's your baby.

Happily ever after.

Though we are all thrilled when the child is placed in our arms, when we think, for the first time, this is when the wait is over and this is it!    Done with all the work and worry.  WRONG.   It's just beginning.

Bonding with a new baby, one you haven't homegrown and birthed, takes work.  

I talk in my book about the many methods of bonding, but I'm embarrassed to say that I've been laid back (too laid back?) about incorporating them into our everyday lives.     Baby Z has to just go with the flow.  The demands of the most needy child prevails every time (whomever that is in that moment).

I think it's easy for experienced adoptive parents to forget the importance of a refresher-course.   Of remembering and implementing what we know is important with each and every adoption, each child.

Bonding with a new child, like anything, takes work.   But there is always reward. 

My hands ARE full.   Very.   I can make a necessary phone call, load the dishwasher, get my toddler a snack, discipline my preschooler, and hold the infant in the same 2 minutes.      I have to.     

But I'm also trying to yield to God's whispers.  When He says to stop and pick up my baby.  When He says to have string cheese and apples for dinner instead of spending a half-hour making a more elaborate meal and instead spend time with the kids.   When He says to meet my child's eyes instead of using my eyes to focus on a chore or list or text message.

Parenting these kiddos is never going to get easier.  I will probably never wake up very well rested, I will probably never have enough time to exercise and whittle my body down to a model's, I will probably never have a clean home office.   






On my nightstand, but yet to be read.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What's Your Language?

I'm a huge fan of three letters:   DVR.


As a busy mom of three little ones, watching anything on TV that is rated over G is rare.   Occasionally, I'll go on a DVR frenzy and record many shows I might watch someday....someday.

I happened to DVR one episode of Oprah's Lifeclass, an episode featuring Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the famous Five Love Languages books.    I had an old copy of the book, one I hadn't given much thought to.   One day I had the opportunity to watch the recorded show, and wow, did I get inspired!

First, I took the quiz (as did my husband) to discover our love language.  It's free and available online. 

Second, we wrote down our ranking of the five love languages to see where we matched up, where we didn't, and to remind ourselves of what we had learned.

What we discovered is that our love language ranking is opposite of the other person's.  I guess opposites do attract.   We also discovered, through the tv episode, that people tend to give what they want (meaning, they act out the love language they crave to receive).   

Overall, what this taught me is to recognize my love languages and not feel guilty about which ones don't work for me.   So when people compliment for example (on an outfit, on my writing, etc.), it doesn't mean much to me.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  It's nice to hear some praise, but compliments aren't my "cup of tea."   (However, two weeks ago a little girl, maybe seven years old, came up to me in a restaurant and said, "You are really pretty" and then ran away.  It was SO sweet!)   When my husband would say to me, "Your such a good mom," it was nice to hear, but it didn't melt my heart.

What does work for me are acts of service and receiving gifts.    The quiz helped me realize why I get annoyed when friends don't at least send me a glittery birthday card or why I can't stand people who don't pull themselves up by their bootstraps and do something about their situations.   I'm a do-er, and I need do-ers in my life to uplift me.

I'm trying (trying, trying) to meet my spouse's need:  words of affirmation.    It seems SO simple---to say something nice.  But I'm a person who wants someone's words to mean something.   I hate the over-use of "I love you."    (Probably because words of affirmation isn't my thing).   As Dr. C said on the episode, the thing your spouse needs most is probably the thing hardest for you to do/say!  

Dr. C also talked about couples who say all the "spark" is gone from their marriages.   He says that the initial honeymoon phase takes zero work...and now, after years of marriage, we realize we have to work at it.   Using the love languages truly helps! 

Marriage is work, and I think it's incredibly hard to keep a relationship strong, especially when there are children in the picture who, by nature, take up our time and energy and emotions and money and thoughts.   

I hope you'll get a copy of Dr. C's book, and, if possible, watch the episode.  The concept is so simple and yet, so life-altering.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dreams Do Come True!

Thank you so much to everyone who has purchased a copy of Come Rain or Come Shine:  A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children.     I'm incredibly blessed, and I pray this book is a blessing to you in return! 

I've wanted to write a book since I was very young.   I tried many times to get a book published, but it just never clicked.    Round hole, square peg.   I was full of great ideas, but nothing came together as I felt it should.

Writing a book has been one of the hardest things I've ever done.   I had to face a lot of fear.   I had to be very persistent.   And I had to remember, above all, that someone needed to write this book to meet the demands of the adoption community.   Why not me?  

I thought the most exciting part of this book, besides completing it, would be the glory that came with it.  Seeing my name in a book review or selling copy after copy.   But the truth is, I'm quickly realizing that those things aren't what matters most.

Blessing others with what I have learned from others is what is most rewarding.  Bundling all these truths and resources and tidbits and possibilities into a tangible object and being able to hand it to someone to bring them education, relief, inspiration, and motivation---that's the biggest joy of all.

Dreams do come true, friends.  But it not only takes conviction and persistence, but also a lot of prayer, a lot of hope, and a lot of passion.    None of this wishing upon a star business.   You have to make it happen.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Check it out! 

The long awaited day is finally here!

My book will be available on Amazon in just a few days.   Here's the link.  You can elect to be notified via e-mail when you can order it.