Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Give back the little black boy"

We were in a commercial break during our morning newscast.  It was 6:40 and my co-anchor, John, made a quick trip to the KPLC mail room to pick up the mail of the day.

Sometimes it's an encouraging card from a viewer, a news release about an upcoming event, there are the random letters from inmates, and sometimes it is a "concerned citizen."

You don't know what you are getting until you open it up.

John handed me a piece of mail addressed to "B. Glaser" with no return address.

I knew that was a red flag.

But, I could feel there was a card inside of the envelope, which made me think it could be a kind note.  Who would want to waste a piece of stationary on criticism?

So I opened it...

"Give back the little black boy while you have a chance."

I stopped there, feeling my heart racing and the tears starting to rise to the surface.

I couldn't cry.  I was about to be back on camera to read the next news story.

I handed the letter to John, who read it, and whose face could not hide the disgust I knew must mean every word was hate-filled.

In the next commercial break, I picked up the card again:


Give back the little black boy while you have a chance.

They grow up to be out of control and rapists.  It's a breed you cannot deny.

I work with black teens 2-3 times a week.  They talk about having sex.

Don't let your daughter get raped when he is a teenager.

I'm older, but have seen what happens when blacks get to be of age.

Maybe you are trying to make a point with adoption.  You don't need to do that.  You are already well liked.

A Concerned Citizen.

I'm not racist.

I think I forgot to breathe.



My daughter being attacked by my son - all because she's white and he's black?

Making a point with adoption?

And all of this was written inside a patriotic-themed card with the American flag on the front.  The flag that represents liberty and justice for all.

The wheels in my head were spinning.  I kept telling myself, "This is one person.  One person's opinion.  One person's perception.  One person's ignorance."

But the harsh reality is that where there is one, there are more - who claim "I'm not racist," yet identify certain people as a "breed," or intrinsically criminalistic.

I do not have concerns about our son - the person being referred to as "the little black boy" -  morphing into a rapist as he "gets to be of age."

I would be lying to say I don't have concerns, though, about raising a black child in today's society.

All I have to do is read the news of the day to have some of those concerns in my face: two more deadly officer-involved shootings of black men in one week.  Regardless of where you fall on the "were they armed," "were they reaching for weapons," or "what's their rap sheet" spectrum - the fact is my heart aches watching another video of a black man shot to death.

Adding even more pain is the audio recording of an officer who states one victim "looks like a bad dude" based solely on his appearance as he walked to his stalled SUV with his hands in the air.

Our son will be taught by us that there is never, ever, in any circumstance, a reason to resist an officer.  Don't move unless you are told to move.  Do not reach for your license, your insurance card, or step out of the car if you have a question.  Don't adjust your pants if they seem off center.  Submit.  Period.

Will our two white daughters have to worry about taking such a cautious approach?  Probably not.

We recognize our son will encounter obstacles and prejudices that we never experienced.

It's pretty easy to accept and love on an adorable one-year-old, but what about when he's a little older?

Will he be invited to a classmate's birthday party?

Will he be watched more closely on the toy aisle as he tests out the wheels of a race car?

Will he be followed at the store as he tries on a pair of shoes?

Will he be able to ask a girl to the homecoming dance, regardless of the color of her skin?

Will he be accused of "trying to be white" or "not being black enough" because his family dynamics look different than the norm?

Will he know how much it matters to us, his parents, to respect and honor his racial heritage?

We do not need to be color blind.  Color is beautiful.  Differences can be celebrated.

It's okay if the first thing you notice about my son when you see him is the color of his skin.  But it's not okay if the next thing you do is make judgments based on that color.

I promise you that if you take a second to see him for more than his color, you will see his beautiful amber-brown eyes that smile when he smiles.  Then you will notice his dimply cheeks.  And that gap-toothed smile...oh my gosh.

He just started giving fall-into-you-with-all-of-my-weight hugs.  He will blow you a kiss when you say "goodbye."

And his newest word he can sign is "pretty," a word that he does not use discriminately - because we are all made in the image of God.

To the "concerned citizen" who wrote me that card: thank you for reminding me of just how lucky we are to be the parents of "the little black boy." He's a special guy and we know God has big plans for him.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fear, Faith, and a Family of Five

There has been a long drought in this blogosphere...

It's because if I had shared what had been going on since the last post almost four months ago, it would have just looked something like this for several weeks:


Followed by...WHITE NOISE.

That is the best way to describe my thoughts, emotions, sleeplessness, etc. while deep into pursuing an adoptive placement Matt and I had been efforting since November - and then this news in February:

Hello, life!

So, here we were a few months ago, set to meet our potential son at his foster home for the first time and digesting the reality that by November, we could have three children under two. 

The logistics of it all felt overwhelming and we still had time to stop the adoptive move from happening.

I didn't know how I was going to get three little ones in and out of the house - into the car (that I will grow out of when three car seats are installed) - into daycare - and back to work in a one hour window of time.

I didn't know how Matt would handle the early morning hours alone with two, then three, when I had to leave the house at 3:15 A.M. for work.

I didn't know how I would possibly be able to nurse an infant while having two one-year-olds running around.  Heck, I just exited pumping/nursing land and am not ready to re-enter!

I didn't know if we would sleep again for the next few years.

I didn't know if Matt and I would have an uninterrupted conversation at home or go on a date again before the posse enters school.

I didn't know if we had the time, patience, and unconditional love that the little boy we wanted to adopt so desperately needs.

I didn't know if we had enough love to spread around for Lila, little brother, and the next addition.

We didn't know A LOT.

And guess what?!  We still don't.

Yet, all of that not knowing brought us to a place of knowing that this big, crazy life is exactly what God wants for us. 

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9 

I assure you that the "plan" Matt and I had for our family didn't involve growing quite so quickly.

We figured we would continue in the adoptive process this year - and maybe, just maybe, add another biological or adopted child to the family in a few years after we were nicely settled in as a family of four.

When we learned that life was moving in a very different direction, fear creeped into both of us.

Should we continue in this adoptive placement?  Should we hit pause and revisit it after the birth of the baking baby?  Is now the right time?

It did not take long before we found ourselves begging God for discernment and clarity.

I found myself asking God, "Please, will you just show me exactly what we're supposed to do? Can you just tell me?"

And then, it's as if he calmly whispered to me, "The answer is right in front of you."

So, I opened up the Bible and turned almost instinctively to the book of James.

It's only five chapters, so I was able to quickly read through it and every chapter had verses stand out which seemed to perfectly describe our situation.  Here are the highlights:

*Consider it joy when you face trials, because the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  When you ask for wisdom, believe God is giving it to you and stop doubting.  (James 1: 2-6)

*Do not just listen to the Word.  DO what it says.  (James 1:22)

*Care for the fatherless. (James 1:27)

*Faith without action is dead.  (James 2:26)

*Our lives are so temporary. (James 4:14)

All of that was in one short book.  Over the next several weeks, I found myself more eager to dive into the Word, listen to more sermons on faith, trust, caring for "the least of these," and refocusing on God's will for my (our) life.

The more I looked, the more clarity and peace I found.

"You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

When we boiled down the source of any of our "no" answers in delaying the adoption process, it was all rooted in the same concern: fear.

I'm not talking about ignoring a protective warning or refusing to seek godly counsel.  

I'm talking about allowing crippling fear to stop us from taking a big step of faith into what God is commanding us to do - and getting out of our cozy, comfy lives that oftentimes keep us from recognizing just how much we need to lean on the Lord.

Saying "yes" to this placement meant saying yes to a tough calling, yes to a bigger faith in God, yes to a new normal, yes to more sleepless nights and even busier days, yes to LOTS of unknowns, and yes to giving a little boy who has spent his entire young life in foster care a permanent, loving home.

I can't wait for the day I can share the incredible story of how we learned about this child and how much he has already overcome.  While he is freed for adoption (parental rights have been terminated in his case), the state requires that he is our foster child for six months until we can adopt him.

Until then, we cannot share pictures of his adorable face or tell you his story.  It's one that we want to be transparent about, because we want to be part of an open dialogue about adoption, foster care, and fostering to adopt.  There are 400,000 children in U.S. foster care today and nearly 100,000 of them are eligible for adoption.  We have got to be willing to open our homes to them, even when it disrupts our comfortable lives.

We are still in the early weeks of transitioning into a family of four.  There have been some rough moments, and less than warm, fuzzy feelings at times.  We are all learning to love each other in a new way and that takes work.  Yet in the morning wake-ups or afternoon story times, there are unexpectedly joyful moments that allow us to catch a glimpse of what a day might look like when we are settled into this big, beautiful life.

And then, we will add another GIRL into our family!

Matt and I couldn't have imagined how much our lives could change since this snapshot six months ago:

There will be five stockings hanging on our mantel this Christmas.

Life can surprise us sometimes.

Don't let fear keep you from stepping into that great unknown.  It's there that God can stretch us, bend us, and reshape us into the masterpieces he designed.

"We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." Isaiah 64:8

And that, my friends, is something we want to exemplify.


Friday, February 5, 2016

It's my (child's) party and I'll cry if I want to

I've been in a funk this week.  Like dark cloud arrived over me and I can almost touch it.

It feels silly because I know why it's here.

Lila Rose turns one today.

I haven't shifted into celebratory mode yet.  I know it will come, but the tears definitely beat it.

I went into Lila's room twice this morning before heading to work at 3:30 to tell her I love her and Happy Birthday.

It did not phase her.  I know today, for her, is just another day.

But for me, it marks the end of babyhood.

This week has been full of more firsts, as Lila literally toddled into toddlerhood:

1) Taking several independent steps.

2) Adding the word "bye bye" to her vocabulary.

3) Intentionally putting off her bedtime bottle to give countless hugs.

4) Taking creative measures to make people laugh.

All of these additions make me smile and cherish this stage of life, but I also recognize with each new "thing" my baby is not a baby anymore.

From the day Lila was born, everyone told me, "They grow up so fast!"

And's true.  They really do.

I knew I would love becoming a mom.  But I didn't know the love I was capable of sharing with a child.  It's so deep.

You know what I'm talking about.

If you see my eyes glazed over today, you know why.

I'm thinking about what was happening at this exact time one year ago.

I'm thinking about how I couldn't wait to see Lila's face for the first time.

I'm thinking about how I pre-planned everything about delivery day, except for actually asking anything about how to deliver a child.

I'm thinking about the flood of emotions I felt when we had our first time alone that night and everything hit me.

I'm thinking about how quickly Lila transformed from a stranger to my daughter.  Just. Like. That.

Lila will be waking up any minute now and I can't wait to hear my phone buzz with the daily morning pictures from Matt.

I will push through this glass cage of emotion and put on the happiest face.

But my eyes will be seeing my little girl a little bit differently today.

I know Lila will still let me rock her to sleep for her morning nap and I will savor that precious time.  Tears might fall, but they truly aren't tears of sadness.

They're "transitional tears" full of pride, love, and raw hope for her future.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl.  We love you so.


Monday, January 18, 2016

The Milky Way

Simple. Complex. Beautiful. Awkward. Natural. Easy. Hard. Fast. Time-consuming...

Those are my feelings on breastfeeding - a touchy topic for many moms, deeply personal decision, and for some, a source of heartache when their bodies just couldn't follow through with what their hearts desired for their newborns.

If you breastfed, formula fed, used a mix of the two, or even used donor milk: that's great!  You chose what was best for your baby and for you.  

I never knew how mixed my feelings would be about feeding Lila.  There were times when I loved the quiet moments of just the two of us in a rocking chair as I fed her - and other times when I wanted to pass that baton to someone else.

Now that Lila Rose is almost one year old, my body has decided it's slowly shutting down production.

I thought I would look forward to that day.  But oddly, it's bittersweet for me.

I certainly won't miss lugging around my pump and cooler each day.

I won't miss seeing the clock in three to four hour increments each day, figuring out when I'll hear the motor running again.

I won't miss finding places to pump when I'm out and about...

Or slumping down in the backseat of my car.

I won't miss zipping off set at work as soon as our morning show ends to "relieve myself" or the concerns I had of leaking through on live TV...which unfortunately happened.  Talk about a close head shot that day:)

But I will miss giving Lila something only I can give.

I will miss seeing her look up at me with a big, milky smile.

I will miss the way she rubbed my back while she nursed.

Feeding Lila has been an interesting journey since day one.

When the nurse put Lila on my chest on delivery day and told me to feed her, I was lost.

I didn't want Matt to look in our direction.

Everything in that moment felt foreign for me.  But not for Lila.

For her, it was natural.

In the early days and weeks, I literally logged every feeding: which breast, how long, did I pump, how many ounces, etc.  It was exhausting, and felt like a full-time job at times, but was something that I felt like I was doing successfully in the midst of my own doubts about my adjustment to motherhood.

When I returned to work and had to rely on multiple pumping sessions each day, I began feeling like I was drowning in a milky world.

My body must have thought the same thing, because I started making lots...I mean lots...of milk.

Morning pumping sessions before leaving for the office started reaching the 17-20 ounce mark.  I had much more than Lila needed.

Enter what became a beautiful new world, that I have to admit I found odd pre-baby: milk donation.

I loved being able to share with other moms in need and feeling the connection that this universal club of motherhood brings.

But now, my body has stopped making extra...

I can no longer share.  I am depending on a dwindling stash of frozen milk for Lila.

It's the end of this chapter and the clock is ticking down to retire the ole pump.

I stopped nursing a couple of months ago, when Lila decided making faces at me and giggling was far more fun than eating.  Oh...and then she got several teeth:)

I never marked a day that defined my final session.  That would have been too emotional for me.  Instead, it just sort of happened.

This milky season of life has opened my eyes to the struggles of moms who work outside of the home, moms who wrangle other children while juggling breastfeeding, moms who feel judged when choosing formula as plan A, and heartbroken moms who tried so hard to make this whole nursing/pumping thing work.

If I'm honest with myself about why this transition has been harder than I expected, the answer is pretty simple:

I don't want to be less needed.

I think we have to remind ourselves that whatever choice we make or our bodies make for us does not affect the unconditional love of our little ones.

Lila doesn't care about the source of milk in her bottle.  She cares that she's fed.  She cares that the person feeding her holds her tightly and lets her touch his/her face as she eats.

She's like every other baby, who just needs love and security - that's something I know I can give through every season of her life.