Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Day I Was on NPR: And Learning to Listen


Dear Readers,

I was honored to be part of NPR's The Sunday Conversation this morning.  Of course, the topic of conversation was transracial adoption.

I was very excited this morning when my husband dashed into our bedroom and turned on the radio and said, "You're on!"  With my girls on either side of me and my husband standing nearby, we listened to the pre-recorded show.  We did a little cheer when it was over and went to eat breakfast and get dressed.   And then, we headed to church, had lunch, ran errands, and right now, everyone's winding down for bed.

At one point today, I read a few comments on the NPR web page, comments made in response to the story.   And naturally, like all things public and controversial, there were a range of opinions ranging from the simple, such as "love is all kids need" to the extreme (basically saying I suck, NPR sucks, transracial adoption is awful, etc.).   

Though in the past, I was more vulnerable to opinions of total strangers, this time I shrugged, set my phone down and proceeded to make a Target shopping list while simultaneously prompting my daughters to get their shoes on so we could head out the door.

I share these mundane tasks, like making a list and running errands and eating meals, with you because here's the deal:

Though transracial adoption is a major part of our lives (because it's directly tied to our path to parenthood and how we choose to parent), it doesn't consume our lives. 

Our lives are incredibly normal.  Even dull at times.

I'm a stay at home mom of three young kids.  I write on the side.  I spend many days in yoga pants and t-shirts, my hair in a messy knot on top of my head, no makeup.   I wash a lot.  A lot.  Of laundry.  I make meals.  I fold towels.   I discipline.  I encourage.  I color with my girls.  I hold my baby close.  I share my day with my husband.  I call my mom.   I text my sister.  I answer e-mails from book readers.  I socialize on Facebook one day and go out for wine with a girlfriend the next night.   And yeah, occasionally, I respond to interview requests. 

And like all parents, I work really hard to make sure my kids are healthy, safe, secure, happy, educated, empowered, and filled with the right things.

I've heard it all:   why in the world would I hire a female CHRISTIAN mentor for my girls?  what do I think about the NABSW statements on transracial adoption?  how dare I write a book about transracial adoption because, after all, I'm so young and my children are fairly young? am I trying to whitewash my kids?  why would I teach them about Black history, thereby emphasizing race?   why would I choose to be on a national television show where the host believes in things that Christians are not "supposed" to support? 

I have a comeback for every single question, but I'm not going to waste my time.

A few months ago, I wrote typed a distraught, pleading message to Denene Millner, a Facebook friend and successful, strong female.  I shared my heart with her.  I had encountered a few vicious comments online from a handful of women who had repeatedly attacked my integrity, my parenting and adoption choices, and my writing.  Embarrassingly, but honestly, I had allowed them to make me feel less-than. 

Denene said to me something that I know will stick with me forever.

She shared that she used to get really upset with her online haters:  people who would spew nastiness, including racially-charged comments.   She'd respond.   But, she concluded, "It didn't do much to silence critics.  No matter how many times you put one in her place, two more pop up with more crazy."  

So what to do? 

She shared, Don't pay mind to those who...

"a. don't pay my bills. b. have not harmed me physically c. Can't make the sun rise in the morning And once I embraced this particular philosophy, I started winning..."

You see, we have so much power.  What we tell ourselves matters far more and weighs so much more heavily than what anyone else says.   It's really us.  Not them.   There will always be opinions, experiences, and voices---some louder than others.  There will always be lies, hurts, and prejudice.  There will always be sin.  

The most significant, relevant, steadfast, and the only pure truth, is what God speaks to us.

God has used today to remind me of what truly matters and how far I've come because of His grace.  Bible verses learned during my childhood come back to me, slowly, steadily, and beautifully:

Romans 12:2   "Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God's will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect." 
1 John 5:21 "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts."
Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
1 Timothy 4:12  "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity."

Today, and how fitting it's Sunday, could have left me discouraged.  But it didn't.

Because instead of giving my time and mental energy to distractive voices, I was thinking through the ways I've been blessed, affirmed, and empowered.   I recall this verse:

Jeremiah 30:2  "“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you."  

This was a verse I had circled in my Bible many years ago when I was feeling lost.  I had the urgency, the drive, the passion to write a book, but the words weren't coming to me. 

God was preparing my heart for a later date.

My book isn't perfect.  My opinions, and experiences, and parenting---all flawed.  Because I'm not perfect.   And I'm going to make sure that I teach my children that I'm not perfect.  And they don't have to be either.

Because when you are redeemed by Jesus, there's no legalism. 

He freely gave.  He still does.

His mercies are upon me every day, even when I don't recognize them, ask for them, or are thankful for them.

I'm not sure why I got diabetes, or why during my hospital stay the word "adoption" popped into my mind so clearly, or why we were chosen to parent children of another race, or what God is going to do in and through our lives, even through our failures and flaws...

but I'm certain that He will be exalted in my words and deeds when I am listening to Him. 

I choose Him.    

So readers, my Sunday fades and I prepare for another normal week of laundry and meal prep and gymnastics class and preschool and diaper changes, I will work to continue to empower, educate, and affirm others while also continuing my practice of learning and transcending.  

Whatever your mountain is today, I pray that you are able to rest in God's encouragement and in the wisdom of those around you who God has placed in your lives.   

And please, whenever you have the opportunity, return the blessings.

Hebrews 12: 1-3
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls."

Special thanks to Denene Millner of MyBrownBaby for her permission to use her words in this post.


  1. Any articles on transracial adoption seem to bring out a wide range of viewpoints, opinions, etc. After skimming through the over 200 comments on the NPR article, it appears that MANY people were more interested in hearing from adult transracial adoptees about what it's like to grow up as a TRA - rather than an adoptive parent.

  2. I hope you are able in the future to process the comments and criticisms in a more productive way. I was asked for the NPR show as well, was interviewed, and didn't immediately realize that other voices than mine would be more appropriate, taht is the voices of adult adoptees. I am after all happy my comments were not broadcasted. Please don not only on God, but also on others with more experience. All best, Frank

  3. I think you have a very valuable perspective to share, however I was disappointed that NPR chose to showcase only adoptive parents, not transracially adopted adults. Especially since it turns out they taped someone to give this perspective, and chose not to use the piece.

  4. Hey girl! I'm sure you are receiving a ridiculous amount of press and comments. My main issue with the article was not you, it was npr choosing to discard their interview with Angela tucker and solely use yours. So confusing.

  5. I'm a biracial, transracial adoptee, mother of 2 kids of color and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I've been LIVING this for 41 years, and have worked in the field for over 20 years. I have worked with THOUSANDS of birth families, adoptees, foster kids, and adoptive/foster parents. I have earned the right to speak as an expert and be respected as one. When I was just starting out, I had no rights to say anything other than, "I'm new at this"....But.... since I came out of the womb living this,...I and others are the real experts. Angela knows...I know...we are often shoved to the side for newbies. I applaud your courage to speak on this subject on NPR, but I can assure you that if someone asked me to speak about birth parents, my first response would be, "Hold on, I know some great birth parents would can best speak on the subject. I can ONLY speak from my work with them, but I cannot speak FOR them."

  6. As the white parent of 4 transracially adopted children, all young adults now in their 20's, I've learned so much about parenting, racism, identity, grief and loss. Perhaps one of the best lessons is that the voices of adult adoptees are marginalized in discussions about adoption, as are those of original/first parents. It's time for their voices to be heard. Angela Tucker's voice was silenced. That was NPR's foolish, shortsighted decision. Surely you are aware of it, given the comments on the NPR site, the tweets deluging NPR, and the many blog posts, including Angela's. It's time to listen to the voices of adoptees: people with real, hard-earned experience, who understand the reality and complexity of adoption in a way that we adoptive parents cannot. There is so much wisdom to be gained.

  7. Perfect love casts out all fear . . . Another vote for listening to the voices of adult transracial adoptees . . . And accepting grace so that we are not threatened by what they have to say . . .

  8. Grace and peace to you and your family. I was incredibly blessed by your interview on NPR.


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