Thursday, October 31, 2013

Adoption Month + Diabetes Month = Sweet November

November is a particularly special month for me.  

November is hailed as Diabetes Month:   to create awareness of the disease and to prompt individuals to give to organizations that are fighting for a cure, particularly for the type of diabetes I have (type I diabetes, which is often diagnosed in children and young adults). 

November is also Adoption Month.  The main goal is to shine the spotlight on the number of children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted into a forever family.   Statistics range, but on average, it's believed that there are about 130,000 children in the United States who are legally free for adoption and are waiting to be chosen by an adoptive family.  Many of these children are minorities, part of sibling groups, older children, or are kids with special needs.

For me, this month signifies two of the most major events in my life:  being diagnosed with type I diabetes and subsequently, choosing adoption instead of becoming a mom through biology. 

And, two of my three children were born in November.  I became a mother in November of 2008 when Miss E arrived. 

So, there's a lot going on in my mind this month.  A lot in my heart, too.

For certain, during this month when we celebrate Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for.  Yet I'm still remaining hopeful that God is going to continue to do awesome things in our family and hopefully, in my lifetime, allow my disease to be cured.   

Peace to you as this month begins.   And thank you for your readership.    

Monday, October 21, 2013

Never Say Never

I look at Baby Z, and he's so grown!   He just turned 9 months old, and he's doing all these new tricks...and I want him to stop and be a baby.  He's cruising on furniture, and crawling everywhere, and saying "dada" and his oldest sister's name, and he can wave hi, and feed himself, and he has two (soon to be three) teeth.    And I'm buying him 12-18 month clothing.

When I was in the sleep-deprived early days, when he would wake every 3 hours to feed, I wanted time to hit the accelerator and give me a break.   It was winter.  DEAD of winter.  Cold.  Gray.  Bleak.   I had three children under age four, stuck indoors, for weeks and weeks on end.  It was tough, to say the least. 

And now that those days have past (they seem so long ago), I yearn to cuddle a newborn against my chest again.  To dress him or her in tiny sleepers.   To gaze at tiny fingers and toes.  

I asked my husband a few weeks ago about adopting again. 

He says we are done.

So I said, "You know I've always had a way of knowing about adoption, about our family.   We aren't done." 

Then I asked him, "Did God tell you we are done adopting?"

And he said, "No."  (Sigh of relief....interrupted by...)   "I told God we are done adopting."

I laughed.

Three kids is tough.  I've heard having three is the hardest number.  And our three littles are young, each only two years apart in age.   Every day is a challenge...

But mostly, it's an incredible blessing.

Three kids.  Three birth families.  Three wonders of God who rely on me to feed them, clothe them, encourage them, discipline them, read to them, sing to them, play with them, tuck them in, bathe them.   Three young souls who need nurturing, love, lessons, listening. 

Let me tell you about some knowing.

When we started the paperwork to adopt a second time, we did so before we felt 100% ready because we knew we'd likely wait awhile. After all, we already had one child, and many expectant mothers choose families who have no children.   Our paperwork was 99% done when one day, I felt an incredible urging to call our our secondary agency to share that they could go ahead and show our profile book because we were so close to being ready.

Our social worker said, "Funny you called.  We have a couple looking at profiles tonight.  The baby is already here.  Do you want to be shown?"

I felt the familiar tinge of adoption excitement, followed by a good self-talking-to.  (I mean really, what are the odds?  We had a child already.  It was our first profile showing.)    I told the SW I'd ask my husband and let her know.   My husband, much like me, was like, why not?   So we said yes.

That evening, we attended my husband's grandfather's visitation.   While my husband and his family greeted guests, I, of course, entertained the children (my two nephews and my two-year-old daughter) with art projects, snacks, videos, and toys.   I kept my cell phone close by, feeling increasingly nervous with each passing hour.   We could know something soon.  Any moment.  

The visitation drew to an end without a call or text.   I packed up the kids' toys and threw trash away.  I picked up my phone to place it in my purse when I saw I had a message.


Day #1 of waiting. 

And what's even more incredible is this.  The couple was supposed to look at profiles the day before, but it was too hard, emotionally for them, so they decided to put it off a day.

The day I called the agency.

I share this story to tell you that there's no way I could have planned or plotted such a union:  us with our daughter.   That I never could have anticipated that as we got our paperwork done, we did so just in the right time frame to be shown and selected to adopt our baby.    That it's pretty much a good idea to listen to God when He prompts you to make a call.

My story is just one example of how God has prompted us to make certain decisions throughout our adoption journey.   There was, if you recall, how God moved us to get our paperwork in order for adoption #3.     Or how God turned the pain of my type I diabetes diagnosis into a stirring to consider adopting.  

So what does the future hold for this adoptive family?

My motto:  never say never.

There's no way to know what God has in store, but I know one thing:  we couldn't orchestrate it if we tried.  So I'm just going to wait and see what happens. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like... + Adoptive Breastfeeding Confession

Well, it may not be looking like Christmas, but I'm already getting in the spirit!   Here are a few new options for your little one who would enjoy a Black doll this Christmas:

Doc McStuffins Family:  includes dad, mom, Doc, and Doc's little brother.    Exclusively at Toys R Us.  $29.99

African American Holiday Limited Edition 30th Anniversary Cabbage Patch Doll:   Exclusively at Target, soon will be available.  $39.99.   (I bought last year's African American doll on mega-clearance for $11 after Christmas last year, so be sure to keep an eye out for it right after the holidays are over and store it for the following year!).

Disney's "It's a Small World" Doll, Kenya:    $29.95.  This doll sings "It's a Small World" in Swahili and English.  My favorite part is her natural hair!  


I'm excited to share that one of my favorite blogs shared my adoptive breastfeeding story today!  Check it out! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Goodness for Ya

Happy Monday, readers!

First, I'd like to share my new job with you!   I'm pairing with to write a column called Asked the Adoption Coach.   Starting tomorrow, you can post your burning questions to their Facebook page.   I hope to hear from you all soon!  

Second, I had the honor of sharing the last chapter of my book on My Brown Baby!    MBB is a fabulous resource for those parenting Black children.  Denene is an adoptee herself.  :)   

Third, check out these fabulous blogs, both of which I've had the privilege of writing for.  There's Slow Mama and Traded Dreams.    And if you're looking into adoptive breastfeeding, swing by The Badass Breastfeeder for some encouragement from other milky-mamas. 

Fourth, did you hear that The Little Couple will soon bring Zoe home?  This is the second transracial adoption for the couple. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pink Or Blue: Round 2

Last year I wrote this post on selecting the sex of the child you wish to adopt.    And more recently, I've been writing posts on ethics in adoption, including this recent post on what adoption agencies need to start and stop doing, which included a paragraph on selecting the sex of baby adoptive parents desire.  This post, which I shared in various adoption-focused FB groups, elicited a slew of responses, particularly on the issue of sex-selection.    

Since Baby Z was born in January, we've heard, many, many times, "Oh!  You finally got your boy!"   And, "Isn't it so awesome having a son?"   And asked, "Isn't having a boy just so different?"

And my response is that we would have been happy no matter the sex of our third child.  In fact, his bio mom thought he was going to be a girl, until her second "find out" ultrasound revealed otherwise.   We had already been brainstorming girl names.    

Having a son, right now, has been no different than having daughters.  (Well, I guess there are far fewer cute clothing options...).  A baby is a baby who has the same basic needs.

Of course, we think Baby Z is pretty awesome.   But that's not because he's a boy.   It's because he is ours. 

Here's why, with rare exceptions (mentioned in the the above linked post), why we won't specify the sex of the child we will adopt (domestic infant adoption):

---We don't believe in telling God or a birth parent or an agency who we can and cannot be blessed  with. 

---I'm not ordering up a sandwich at Subway.  I'm trying to adopt a child.  It's about becoming or growing in motherhood. 

---I'm not going to exclude myself from a possible adoption because of the child's sex.  I'm not going to lose the opportunity to support an expectant mother, whether she parents or places, based on the sex of her baby.   

---I'm not going to set up my future child to "be" or "fulfill" MY desires.    I don't feel that there's anything wrong with having an inkling of preference, but having a preference and then checking a box for that preference, thereby excluding other babies from being ours, doesn't sit well with me.

---Boys and girls are equally valuable and worthy of a forever family.  They can bring equal joy into a family. 

---Jesus told His disciples to let the little children come to Him.  Not the boys first and the girls second (or vice versa).    No, I don't think Jesus was speaking about adoption in this Bible passage, but I do think the verse shows that children are all precious in God's sight.

---How could I possibly say "no" to a child based on his/her sex when God might have great purpose for that child in our family?

---Adoption generally offers adoptive families too many choices, making adoption more parent-driven instead of child-driven.   It gets ethically murky to start rejecting children based on their sex.  Slippery slope, friends. 

---What if a family did have a preference, and the mom thinks she's having a boy, for example, and ends up having a girl?  What do families do?  Dump the mom and baby for the baby they REALLY want? (It happens, readers.  Can you imagine the devastation that would bring upon the mother?)   Gasp, you think. No way would I do that?  How are you NOT doing that from the get-go by pre-selecting your child's sex?   Adoption is about commitment, ethics, and least it should be.

---It's not fair to have projecting expectations onto a child:  which is hurtful to the child.   Like, "I want a son so we can a part of Boy Scouts together like I did with my dad."   Or, "I want a girl whom I can buy tutus for."   It's not ok to have expectations of a child based on YOUR selfish desires.  Doing so is quite dangerous for the child's well being.   It shouldn't be done to a boy or a girl, a biological or adopted child, a child of a certain race, etc.   Parents who have expectations of children based on a certain characteristic are setting children up to fail and setting themselves up for disappointment.   (A whole different rant on gender nonsense might come at another that boy or a girl should like certain toys---and not play with others---and should be in certain activities, but not others...blah blah blah).

Parents, if you truly believe that you are MEANT to parent a specific child (as I once heard an adoptive mom who was adamant that God had a bi-racial girl for her), than you have nothing to lose by being open to all races and both sexes.  What's meant to be will be.

It's about faith.

It's about ethics.

It's about doing what is RIGHT even when it's not easy.

It's about not giving in to the "I'm paying the big bucks, so the agency needs to pony up and fulfill my heart's desires" and instead, seeing adoption for what it is:  human hearts, on the line.   

You know the ol' pro-life slogan?  I think it applies to adoption too:  It's a child, not a choice.

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Not Enough to Just Braid Hair: On Taking Chances and Making Friends

On a Transracial Adoption FB group I frequent, an adoptive mother brought up an excellent point:  Do White transracial adoptive parents focus too much on things like hair, and Black history, and soul food, and Kwanzaa, etc., and not enough on developing meaningful relationships with people of color?  

If you've never had a real relationship with a person of color, and your only education about people of color is from BET and the NBA and the evening news, you might be White.   And you might be intimidated.   Aren't a lot of Black men criminals?  Job-less?  Fathering three babies in one year with three different women?  Aren't Black women curvy and really loud and have some sort of thing about their hair?  Aren't Black kids sort of suspicious?   Aren't the majority of welfare recipients Black?   (Way to go, media...)

Like, how do you do it?  How do you befriend someone you are scared of and intimated by?

Is it racial-targeting to purposefully seek out and attempt to befriend people of color for the benefit of yourself and your adopted child?

What if you are laughed at, ignored, or worse, rejected? 

What if it's just easier to focus on things we can find out about elsewhere---an online message board, or a blog, or a book (like from anywhere but from conversations with people of color)?  

Here's the deal.

You chose to adopt transracially.

You chose to become a parent.

(You didn't choose the easy route).

You know what you need to do.

So, are you going to do it?

You might be a quiet, private person.  Or you might be someone whose not all that educated on politically correct language.  You might be a person who is very fearful of rejection.  You might be someone who feels a bit overwhelmed with transracial adoption.  You might be sensitive.  You might be timid.  You might be easily embarrassed.  

But transracial adoption isn't about you.  (Hint:  It's about the little person next to you).

But it does, often, start with you.

Without risk, there is little reward.

You, adoptive parents, you have to get over yourselves.  You have to do what is best for your children.   And in doing so, you might learn a thing or two and form some really great friendships.

It's like this.  Say your child contracted a horrible disease.  There was a cure, but it would require you do something you are terrified of doing.   Would you not face your fears to save your child?

I'm going to be cliche here and say:  practice makes perfect.

The more you reach out, the more likely you are to hear "yes."  

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." 

I understand that the media makes is really difficult for Whites to feel they can trust, like, or even love an adult person of color.     For hundreds of years, people of color have been isolated, mistrusted, wrongfully persecuted and judged, harshly scrutinized. 

You are, as my mother taught me, in charge of yourself and your children.  Your kids are trusting you to make the right decisions for them.   To embrace possibilities.   To take chances.  To confront your own fears, prejudices, and skepticism.

I have found that when I began to push my fears aside (and still do), I was able to find treasures that exceeded my hopes.    The friends of color that I have made have enriched my life beyond what I could have imagined.  They have blessed me with knowledge and advice and encouragement.   I am more blessed than ever.  I'm developing authentic, kindred relationships with people because I took a chance and said hello.  

Try it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Here We Go...Again

I’ve heard it once. 

And once more.

And a thousand times more. 

And here’s why I don’t feel so warm and fuzzy.

“My child was born in my heart, not under it.”

Don’t disregard or attempt to “one up” the child’s first mother.   Doing so only makes you look jealous and petty.   Don’t diminish the importance of a woman carrying a baby for months and months on in, giving birth to that baby, and handing that baby over to someone else…forever.     Don’t try to align yourself with the birth mother by comparing your heart to her…uterus?   I mean really, the birth mother had the baby “grow” in her heart, too.  

“It doesn’t matter where you come from.  It matters who you choose to become.”

Where a person comes from does matter.  Even a child who, just a few days old, is handed to adoptive parents.   The in-utero months of a child’s life are powerfully significant and shaping.   Breaking the physical tie between a biological mother and her child creates a Primal Wound.   Furthermore, who you were shapes your perception of who you choose to become.  

“God never gives you more than you can handle.”

Not true.   It’s not about what we can or cannot handle, whatever your definition of handle is.  Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and offers forever-peace to those who receive Him because we, as humans, cannot handle so much in life.   (I mean, honestly, some days I cannot even handle a crumb on the floor...)  We cannot get our crap together.   We are going to have heartbreak, face failure, and deal with confusion.   God also isn’t up in heaven attempting to put plight upon plight on individuals as a game or a test or a joke.   Bad things happen (to good people…blah blah blah), and it’s up to us if we lean on God and His power and His guidance, or not.

“Your baby was created just for you!”

Adoptive parents, listen up.  Your child was created by human beings.  Those human beings couldn’t or chose not to parent for a variety of reasons. This created a sever between the biological child and the biological parents.  No matter why the child was placed for adoption, that sever has created a loss and a trauma in the child’s life.   I don’t believe God magically created a child (this isn’t Jesus’ birth, people) in order to bless an adoptive family.  If the child was created and meant to be for the adoptive family, they would have conceived and given birth to that child, not received that child through someone else’s loss.  Granted, I do believe adoptive families can be blessings to the biological mothers they form relationships with.  And I believe an adoptive family can fall completely in love with a child who was birthed by someone else.   And I do believe a birth mother can be both deeply saddened by the loss of her child but also feel joy for the child being with a great adoptive family. 

“Your child is so lucky to have you as his parents!”

Lucky?   I don’t know.  Is loss and grief and confusion and unknowns lucky?   You might be looking at the fact that we provide a nice home, and Disney vacations, and music lessons, and Martha Stewart style Christmas dinners, and yes, it’s cool.  But that doesn’t make my child lucky.  My child didn’t ask to be adopted.  My child didn’t ask to be separated from his or her biological family.  My child didn’t ask to be labeled as “adopted” by every other stranger.     I realize you are attempting to compliment me:  my parenting, my material belongings, even the joy you see on my face when I beam at my child.   But hear me:  my child blesses ME.  I adopted because I wanted to be a parent.  I didn’t do it to be a savior or a superhero.   
What adoption questions and comments have you heart a thousand times that drive you bonkers?  How do you respond?