Monday, July 27, 2015

Homeschooling Your Black Child

It's here!!!

My fourth book was just released, and I'm over-the-moon excited!   It's called Homeschooling Your Black Child:  A Simple Getting Started-Guide and Workbook.  

Homeschooling among Black families is on the rise.  This article from THE ATLANTIC explains why.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Letter to My Kids About Racism

Dear Kids:

It's with a heavy heart that I even have to consider writing a letter like this to you.  I wish racism didn't exist.  I wish you were always going to be given fair chances and equal opportunities.  I wish that every person you meet in your life would acknowledge and celebrate your brown skin, eyes, and hair, your history and your future as a person of color.    

You are young, and you've already encountered so much ugly evil.   My son, you've been called a "thug," when you were freshly two years old.  My girls, a cowardly and pathetic man drove by our home and hurled the n-word at you twice.   You've had strangers try to "pet" your hair:  your intricate and beaded cornrows, your afros, your coils.  One woman looked at the two lovely girls, side by side, and pointed to one and said, "She's got the good hair."   It's been assumed that you are good at dancing because it's "in you."   Parents have proudly boasted to me how they raise their kids to be "colorblind," and I want to scream.  Because you are beautiful and wonderful just as you are, not "in spite of" your Blackness.

These occurrences strike fear in my mommy-heart.  Because I know that racism is just getting started. The culmination is happening; the storm is brewing.  As you grow up, becoming bigger, louder, more visible, you will more likely encounter racism. More microaggressions.  More stereotypes.  More systematic hurdles. 

And I have the really, really big job of preparing you for life as a person of color.  For the inevitable challenges that will come your way. 

The news reminds me every day of how BIG my job is and sometimes how incredibly inadequate I feel.  How unprepared and untrained I am.   I have enlisted help:  friends of color, your mentor, those in positions of power who are of color.  I need guidance and encouragement and advice.   I need assurance.  I need hope.  

I'm not, as you know, a pessimistic person.  I am a dreamer, a passionate advocate of justice, and an enthusiastic parent.  I believe that some people are going to treat you well.  I believe you will be given some of the many wonderful things you deserve, things you earn with your education and your talents.  

But I also know I won't always be able to protect you or advocate for you.  I have a few precious years to prepare you for days when you may see flags waving in the breeze, flags that represent hatred and a bloody history.   I have to prepare you for police encounters.   I have to prepare you for the word "no" that you will hear on the basis of your brown skin.  I have to teach you how you might respond to insults like "you are pretty for a Black girl" or being called "Oreo."  I have to prepare you for parents of peers or prospective boyfriends or girlfriends who will be fearful and ignorant upon meeting you.  I have to prepare you for those who will treat you like their token Black friend.  I have to prepare you for those who will assume things about you long before you ever speak a word. 

Every single time a brown face fills my computer or television screen, another innocent Black person who has died at the hands of injustice, of racism, of evil, I think of you.  Tears brim in my eyes as I think of these victims' mothers and fathers, siblings, and friends.   I want to protect you forever.  I don't want anyone to ever treat you as less-than.  

I can't fix the world.  But I can do a good job raising you.  I can instill in you values. I can teach you your history.  I can give you wisdom that will hopefully guide you as you navigate injustices.  

As I've been thinking about these things, a few Bible verses have resonated in my heart, and I want them to resonate with you, too:

Psalm 139:13-16:  For you formed my inward parts;

    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

1 Timothy 4:12
 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

John 16:33
have said these things to you, that in me you may havepeace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

I want you to have a full life.  A happy life.  A life where the sky is the limit.  I want you to be resilient, fulfilled, joyful, compassionate, empathetic, strong, fierce.  I want you to be confident.  

I pray that with God's guidance, with the village we have around us, and with our convictions, education, and commitment, we, your parents, will give you the very, very best.  

And we will always, always have your back.  We will always be on your team.  

I am your mom.  Your warrior.  Your #1 fan.  And I will never stop fighting for you, teaching you, or listening to you.

I love you.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Adoption Hurdles: Adoption Talk Link-Up

Adoption interesting topic for sure.

I know a lot of families-by-adoption take on the "it was hard but now it's over" attitude.  They easily forget how tough adoption can be, for the long-haul, not just in the waiting seasons.  This is one reason Madeleine and I wrote our book: Encouragement for the Adoption and Parenting Journey:  52 Devotions and a Journal.   We know the hard times ebb and flow.  There is no such thing as "easy" when it comes to parenting, and sometimes adoption can add complexity to our stories, our journeys.

Today, I want to share with you all a heart-post, a post that means so much to me.   If you search "adoption" on Pinterest, it's one of the top pins.  It's called Relishing in the Bittersweet, featured on a blog called I Am Not The Babysitter.

When I am faced, as I still am five years later, with guilt, sympathy, confusion, and heartache, I stop, I breathe, and I embrace these.    These feelings are not to be feared or ignored.    They are part of the journey.   This bittersweet adoption path has conditioned me to see with clarity, respond with love, and simmer in possibility.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Reading: Most Popular Articles

I write.  A lot.

Here are some of my most popular articles from 2015, not necessarily adoption-related.  But you'll be more well-rounded if you read about a variety of subjects, right?

To The Lady Who Called My Toddler a Thug  (this was syndicated on Fatherly, The Good Men Project, and My Brown Baby)

Dear Fellow Mom:  Stop Whining and Get in the Damn Pool

The One Thing You Should Say to an Adoptive Family

Happy reading, Sugars!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Instead of Asking How Fast You Can Get a Baby: Let's Talk About Ethics

This is a heart-matter post.  Get ready.   See that sweet baby boy in the photo?  He's one of my three, and he was adopted through ethical practices.  Because ethics matter.  Because the choices parents-by-adoption make have a forever print on the lives of their children.   Here we go, Sugars:

In the adoption community, questions like these come up often:

Which states are the most adoption-friendly?  (Aka: which states have the shortest TPR of birth parents' rights)

How often should I contact the parents I'm matched with, getting assurance that they aren't going to change their minds about placing their baby with us? 

Which agencies, facilitators, and lawyers offer the shortest wait times?  

How much money should I expect to spend to get a baby quickly?

How can I best advertise ourselves as a couple waiting to adopt?

Hold up.   What you should be asking:

Ask how you can support mothers in crisis pregnancies.

Ask what books and blogs and articles promote ethical adoption practices...and read them.

Ask how adoption has impacted triad members:  adoptees, biological parents, and adoptive parents.

Ask how your agency supports moms who choose to parent.

Ask your attorney how he/she respects the rights of the biological father.

Ask how you can give the expectant mom you are matched with both support and space.

Ask how you can support your adoptee when he/she has questions, concerns, and hard feelings about adoption.  

Ask your partner what situations you will say no to because they aren't ethical.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

How to Support a Friend Who Has Adopted an Infant

Dear Sugar,

Most likely, you are a mom-by-adoption or mom-by-adoption-to-be.  This post is for you.  Because when you adopt, many people don't know what to do.  They might say or do the wrong things (or nothing at all).  Though these nearest-and-dearest are by no means malicious, they are ignorant of adoption, as most of the general public is.  So please, pass this along, helping them know how they can support you and others like you, those who choose to adopt.    Here you go:


Throw her a baby shower.   With her blessing and her schedule confirmed, throw your friend (or the couple) a baby shower.  The new baby will need many things!
Talk to her about depression.  New moms by adoption can have post adoptiondepression, similar to moms who give birth who develop postpartum depression.  This may set in just a few days to over a few months after the baby is placed with your friend. 

Take her a meal.  Going from not being a mom, to being a mom, is overwhelming for any woman. 
Take your friend a comforting meal (something that re-heats easily) or a gift card to a local restaurant.  

Buy her baby picture books that support the beauty of adoption.   I have an extensive list of adoption-themed books in my first book, Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children

Respect her family's privacy.  Adoption means that the family might have certain rules or constraints when it comes to sharing the baby’s photo and personal information. 

Don't probe.  If your friend wants to share information with you regarding their adoption situation, she will.  And any information she shares with you should remain with you.  You can say, "What would you like to share with me about your adoption journey?"

Don’t make any sarcastic or off-handed remarks about comparing her situation to yours.  Things like, “At least you got a baby without dealing with weight gain and stretch marks.”  Nothing about adopting is easy.  Your friend may have battled infertility, for example, and remarks about how “lucky” she was to avoid the hardships of pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be hurtful.

Give her an adoption-specific gift.  Try Encouragement for the Adoption and Parenting Journey: 52 Devotions and a Journal.

Finally, treat her as you would any new mom.  Be there for her.  Encourage her.  Answer her questions about what you've done with your children when she asks you.  Take her on a mom date.  SHE IS A REAL MOM, JUST LIKE YOU!  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Is It Okay to Use Your Adoptee to Educate Others on Adoption?: Adoption Link Up

Hi, I’m Rachel.  I’m a mom by adoption to three children.  All our adoptions are domestic, transracial, and open.  I write and speak about adoption for a living.  I have a blog, three books, and hundreds of articles.   I’m passionate about adoption ethics and education.  

Because of my profession and my “status” as a mom by adoption, I’m often prompted to share photos of my children and parts of their personal stories, particularly by news media outlets.  I always decline.  The public photos of my kids (in articles or blog posts) are always from behind, never showing their faces.  I don’t share my children’s names, anything about their biological parents, or any other personal details regarding their personal stories. 

My decision to keep my children’s photos and information private was an easy one for me to make.  I’m not just protecting their right to privacy, but I’m protecting their biological families.  I’m sending a message that there are lines I do not cross, because I believe in privacy.  I believe in good manners.  I believe in respect, dignity, and honor.  And I know enough from adult adoptees to know, the last thing they want is for their vulnerability to be exploited by their parents (or for their vulnerability to be blatantly ignored out of ignorance and fear by the parents). 

We have nothing to hide, despite what some think.  When we are interrogated by strangers, I don’t “pony up” answers because I’m embarrassed, ashamed, or unconfident.  We are asked questions like:  Where are their birth parents?  Are they real siblings? How much did your kids cost?  Why couldn’t you have your own babies? Why did you adopt Black children?  These questions are full of stereotypes and inaccuracies and entitlement and assumptions.  They are problematic in and of themselves.   I refuse to engage in conversations that take from my children and give to strangers, people who have absolutely no bearing on our happiness and well-being. 

My children are people.  They have personalities, feelings, opinions, and rights.  They are confident, because they know Mom and Dad don’t give away pieces of them to anyone who asks.  We don’t allow their lives to be subject to judgement and criticism, because we don’t “take the bait” and offer up their personal information.

We are, in essence, assertive parents.  We are teaching our children to be the same. 

Now I’ve heard it all.  People are “just curious” and they are “well-intentioned.”  People are asking for an adoption education.   I, as a parent by adoption, should get over being politically correct or easily offended.   I should respond immediately and with full disclosure in order to appease the asker, to be perceived as friendly and comfortable.

But I don’t. 

There are other bloggers and book authors far more popular than me.  They freely share their children’s photos, names, personal stories, and current struggles.   They say their openness helps educate others.

As my children get older, they ask more and more questions about their adoptions.  They will soon learn how to use Google.  They will learn to read  and will be able to pick up my books and grasp what Mom has shared with the world. 

I want to make sure that every word I write, every example I offer, and every photo I share is something that makes the adoption world a better place, without ever compromising my children’s trust. 

My children never signed up to be adopted.  They sure didn’t sign up to be adoption’s poster children.  Nor do I want them to be.   What I want for them is to be free to be themselves, to explore their adoptions without reading about them on the Internet or hearing Mom “educate” a stranger who stops us at Target.  

I want them to know that in my arms is a safe place where they will be met with empathy, education, and empowerment.    Not the ideas for the next blog post, book, article, or Twitter update. 


To learn more about privacy, check out my latest Huff Post article:  The One Thing You Should Say to an Adoptive Family