This year I was encouraged by a friend and fellow adoptive mom to participate in the 2012 Adoption Blogger Interview Project. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Rachel, author of the blog White Sugar, Brown Sugar. She is a talented, creative mom to two beautiful little girls and has a wonderful story to tell. I hope that through this interview you will enjoy getting to know her as well!
1. Unlike many couples, your decision to adopt wasn't prompted by an infertility diagnosis. Would you please share a little of your background and what ultimately led you to adoption?
I was very sick for about a year and half with a wide range of symptoms including extreme fatigue, weight loss, chronic sinus infections, and so on. These symptoms got progressively worse. I sought medical attention from five different medical professionals, and the diagnosis was "chronic sinus infections" and potentially anorexia. In March of 2006, I went to the ER because I couldn't breathe. The doctor ran labs and then burst into my room and announced that I had type I diabetes. My blood sugar was dangerously high; I was literally on my deathbed.
While lying in a hospital bed, the diabetes nurse educator came to speak with me. She eventually asked if Steve and I wanted to have children, and we both said yes. She said we still could, despite the diagnosis. (Type I has no cure and is managed by insulin therapy, through an insulin pump or injections, diet, exercise, and stress management). Immediately, I knew we would adopt.
The choice to adopt was that easy for me. I knew pregnancy with type I could be very dangerous for both mother and child, and I also knew we wanted to have multiple children. I wasn't willing to put my life on the line for the sake of biology.
Without diabetes, we probably wouldn't have adopted children. And I cannot imagine not having my beautiful girls! Though diabetes continues to be a daily struggle for me, I'm blessed.
2. You have two beautiful little girls through domestic, infant, transracial adoption. What is something you know now, that you wish you would have known at the beginning of your adoption journey?
I wouldn't change a single thing. We waited 14 months for our first daughter, and that waiting period was a time of extraordinary education. At the time I felt like our wait would NEVER end, but looking back, I know that we waited for a reason: to get educated on adoption! I'm an advocate of open adoption, transracial adoption, birth parents' rights, and ethical adoption.
3. What are some of the special blessings you have experienced through transracial adoption? Challenges?
I love that people know we adopted, because it gives us the opportunity to talk about adoption. However, people rarely ask about adoption in appropriate ways. The worst is being asked inappropriate questions in front of my children. My biggest pet peeve is when someone asks if my girls are "real" sisters. When someone says "real" he or she means "biological." Yes, they are "real" sisters, yes I'm their "real" mommy, and yes, we are a "real" family. Adoptism (the belief that adoption is less-than or second-best) is alive and well in society, and I work hard to educate others and combat adoptist attitudes.
4. Another aspect of your adoptions is that they are open adoptions. Was this something you expected initially? How would you encourage other adoptive parents to nurture the special relationship with their child's birth family?
We were initially not open to an open adoption. However, after getting educated on it, we knew it could be for us. Both of our adoptions are considered very open: texts, e-mails, phone calls, letters, pictures, and visits. Open adoption isn't easy, but we do it for the benefit of our children.
For families considering open adoption, my advice is to get educated on the topic: read books, articles, and blogs and talk to biological parents and adoptive families who are part of various adoption openness types to find out the benefits and downfalls.
I always tell the adoptive families to make decisions out of education, not out of fear!
5. Finally, you have a two big "projects" ongoing. The first is the adoption of your third child (waiting on God's perfect timing.) What can you tell us about the second (your book?)
Thanks for asking! We are waiting to adopt our third child through domestic adoption. We didn't plan to wait again this soon (after all, my girls are just turning 4 and 2 this month!), but a few months back we were asked to adopt a little (toddler) minority boy. Because it was an out-of-state situation and because we didn't have a single bit of paperwork in place, we had to decline. We felt this was God telling us to get our "ducks in a row." We are excited to see what happens.
My book! People tell me all the time that I should write a book on adoption after reading my articles, hearing Steve and speak at adoption conferences, etc., so I finally got over my fears and did it! I'm a part-time English teacher, a freelance writer for online and in-print magazines, and a blogger, and now, I'm also a book author! My book, Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children, should be out before the end of 2012 and will be available on Amazon, through bookstores (when requested by the customer), and in libraries. I cover a wide range of topics, offer readers a plethora of resources for further education, "Questions from the Trenches" and answers, Practical Application exercises, advice from adoption experts, and so much more. I found that there is a hole in the market; there isn't a single book out there like mine that offers comprehensive, current information on transracial adoption and parenting. This book is necessary! It's not just for adoptive or prospective adoptive parents; other individuals who will enjoy this book include: biological parents, adoptees, adoption professionals, family members of adoptive parents and birth parents, educators, counselors, and therapists.