Lauren Casper Online »

As I mentioned in this post (after confessing I started listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving this year), I am not putting any pressure on myself to blog during this strange, busy, and uncertain season for my family. It’s only been a few weeks, but I can tell you that this was such a good decision for me and, by extension, my family.

Our little family made a 16 hour trek to Illinois for Thanksgiving week to visit family. A couple of 16 hour drives provide a lot of time to talk about things we maybe haven’t been able to make time for recently. This little blog of mine came up when I mentioned how much I was loving this break. It was so wonderful to brainstorm ideas with John and really nail down some issues I’ve been having and see things a little clearer. I’d been feeling a lot like I lacked clear direction and inspiration lately. But thanks to my wonderful husband and some direct brainstorming (using Lara Casey’s 2014 powersheets) I feel like I have the beginnings of a pretty good plan.

I had been tempted to throw in the towel with this blog, but I have decided against that. Pinpointing the problem was a huge relief. You see, I’ve been feeling pulled in too many different directions and unsure what the heck I should write about. How much is too much to share? What to people want to read? Why am I blogging anyway? What’s my inspiration and the purpose of writing publicly? I had hit a wall, months ago, and found myself stuck. I dreaded opening that “create new post” tab, but felt like I had a responsibility to keep writing. Knowing the problem has been essential in figuring out the solution.

So I am continuing this break so that I step back, fully invest in other things that are more pressing in life right now, and re-evaluate how I do things here. I am making room for a new thing. I do believe I’m supposed to keep blogging, and I truly want to. But if I’m going to invest my precious time in it then it must be done well in a way that works for me, my family, and is for a purpose.

I’ll continue to take the rest of December and January off. The site will remain up so anyone can view old content, there just won’t be any new posts coming in. In February I will put an away message up on the site while I work on building a place that fulfills the purpose I want for the website. My tentative and hopeful plan is to launch the improved, re-focused, and just all around better site in March. I already have so many ideas so make this a more productive and creative space that is a joy and not a burden.

I’m grateful for all of my readers who have stuck with me through all my seasons of blogging. I hope you’ll still be here in a couple months and I appreciate your understanding!

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  • Darla - Just be you. Do what you do, and don’t worry about pressure to preform, or inspire, or educate. Just do what you do and be who you are. All of those things will happen organically when you are just being you:-)ReplyCancel

  • Darla - All the best for the upcoming changes you are living through!ReplyCancel

  • Belle - So excited to see where this new direction takes you. Your insight and honesty is such a blessing and your children are so beautiful, I look forward to seeing where the Lord takes you in the months to come.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Enjoy your break and know that your readers can’t wait to see your changes and read what’s on your heart. Thank you for investing your time into your blog. I am always blessed by what you share.ReplyCancel

  • Joye - Lauren, I completely understand :) Praying that this will be a time of refreshing and refocus for you! And that God will inspire you! Your words and your life are a beautiful offering.ReplyCancel

  • Wynne - this makes me happy for you and some peace and dreaming in your life! but sad for me to not see your posts pop up :) here’s to an amazing 2014! love you sister!ReplyCancel

Today I am thrilled to have Rachel Garlinghouse sharing a bit of her heart with us. Rachel mothers three children, all adopted domestically and transracially.  She’s the author of COME RAIN OR COME SHINE:  A WHITE PARENT’S GUIDE TO ADOPTING AND PARENTING BLACK CHILDREN and has written over seventy articles on adoption and healthy living.   Rachel’s family has been featured in ESSENCE magazine, ADOPTIVE FAMILIES magazine, on MSNBC’S Melissa Harris-Perry, and on The Daily Drum National Radio Show.  Visit her blog at www.whitesugarbrownsugar.com

Our transracial, adoptive family of five is used to questions, stares, comments, and compliments.  We’ve heard it all, it seems.    One issue that continually comes up is the question of open adoption.  Will my children, each of whom has an open adoption with their biological family, be confused or resentful by the openness?     What if the birth parents see the kids and attempt to “take them back”?     And, what would we do if (gasp!) the children’s birth parents were to just show up on our front door?   (Um, we’d let them in the house…)

Of course, there are many myths surrounding open adoption, and these myths generate fear, both in the public and in the hearts of adoptive parents.     And the key to keeping biological parents at bay is to objectify them, stereotype them, or simply dismiss them.    Some agencies and adoptive parents like to share that birth parents “place and move on” indicating that the loss of a child is now a non-issue.   The stereotypes surrounding birth parents are numerous:  young, substance abusers, unstable, promiscuous, poor.   By putting these falsified likelihoods onto birth parents, they are objectified, de-humanized, and therefore, even easier to dismiss as less-than, unimportant, irrelevant.

What changed for me, and for many adoptive parents, is coming to know a birth parent and to understand the depth of their forever-loss, even when the placement of a child is voluntary.    The loss is no less significant simply because the child’s first mother willingly “gave the child up” to another family.   Internalizing this loss is so much different than flippantly saying how “unselfish” and “wonderful” birth parents are for giving their children the “gift of life” and placing them with another family.

I remember rocking my first daughter, when she was a newborn, quietly in the nursery.  It was late one night, and I was in awe of my baby’s beauty and her peaceful demeanor.    The soft glow of a nightlight spilled over my daughter’s milky-brown skin, her long eyelashes resting on the tops of her cheeks.   And it hit me how hard it would be for me to lose her, even only knowing her, loving her, and caring for her for only a few weeks.   Her birth mother had her for forty weeks.  That’s a long time.   A long time to be physically and emotionally connected.  A long time to feel movement and growth.  A long time to bond, knowing that an impending due date would sever the physical connections.

When my second daughter was born, we had the honor of meeting her birth parents shortly after taking the placement.   Our daughter was the perfect combination of her birth parents, with her birth mother’s velvet-dark skin and slim build and her birth father’s height and nose.    When my daughter turned ten months old, I realized that she had been with us, her adoptive family, as long as she had been with her birth family in utero.   To lose her at ten months old was unimaginable.  Yet, her first parents did it.   They let her go, after forty weeks of being with her.

Two years later, our son was born.    For the first time, we had the privilege of visiting one of our children in the hospital.  Each of the two times we visited, we hung back, giving his birth mother space to be what she was, his mother, for that short period of time.  We were simply there for a few moments to congratulate her and to say, “If you want us to adopt him, we will, and we will keep the promises we make.  We love you.  We support your decision, whatever it is.”   It was difficult to deal with the heartache of knowing that we might “win” in the situation:  we would leave the hospital with the baby.  She would leave with a deflated stomach, milk-filled breasts, and empty arms.    She would be a mother without a baby.   And that is what happened.   He became ours.  She let him go.

Open adoption has awarded us many rewards and joys.   Our kids know their birth parents and birth siblings.   We have photos of the children as they grow up with arms around birth family members.    We share gifts and hugs and laughs and memories and hopes.    We exchange photos and texts frequently.

I carry these birth families members’ spirits with me every day.   I feel them when my child experiences joys and hardships.   I feel them on my children’s birthdays, on Christmas, on Mother’s and Father’s Day.   I feel them on days when firsts happen:  first steps, first day at gymnastics class, first day of school, first time seeing the ocean, first time writing their names.     I feel them on days when the children are sick with a fever or when they fall down and need a bandage.   I feel them when my oldest daughter makes a face like her biological brother, or when I see my second daughter’s dimple that is shared by her biological father, or when my son grins, looking exactly like his birth mother.   The first parents are always, always with me.    And they are forever a part of the children, and the children are a part of them.

ee cummings once wrote, “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it.”  The poet’s words perfectly express my feelings about open adoption.   When we are asked about the kids’ birth parents, I always respond confidently, because my heart is full to the brim with love for them.     1 Corinthians 13:4-7 rings truer than ever, because of the blessing of open adoption:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Rachel has also graciously offered to give away a copy of her book to one lucky reader! Enter via the gadget below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • Mindy A - This sounds like a good read! I am interested to see what she has to say!ReplyCancel

  • Saraandrews - I would love to read this book. Thanking for sharing it.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I don’t have adopted children but my own children are biracial and I would love to hear her story.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this perspective that we don’t ever hear about.ReplyCancel

  • Amy K - Great post, especially as we embark on this journey through domestic adoption. I truly hope that we can have an open adoption.ReplyCancel

  • Gloria - I have always wanted to read this book.ReplyCancel

  • lisa - i have wanted this book for a while — in fact I almost bought it off of my amazon wish list last night! I would love to win! we have an adopted son from uganda and I think this would be such a helpful and encouraging read! thanks for the giveaway!ReplyCancel

  • ASH - Love this. The cover of her book is so cute! Love the rainboots lined up.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - I’d love to win a copy of this book since we are also a transracial family and I’ve been wanting to get her book since it came out!ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah McGee - Great post. I really like how you explained the birth family’s perspective.ReplyCancel

  • Duck Mommy @foster, foster parent, adoption - I’m in the process of adoption transracially – I can use all the help I can get!ReplyCancel

  • Bessy - Looks like a great book!ReplyCancel

  • Shawna - I am super excited to read this book. :o)ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie in NC - I would love to read more via your book. I am navigating a relationship with my sons birth family in Guatemala.ReplyCancel

  • Heather S - I’d love to win and gift this book to my sister who is going through an adoption.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - YES. Everything you said here mirrors my experience. I love our daughter’s birth mom in a way I never expected to and I think of her more days than not. I never expected to be in any kind of open adoption, but it felt unethical NOT to after actually going through the process and recognizing the loss she was experiencing. Beautiful post.ReplyCancel

  • Alisha - I can’t say enough how much I’m enjoying this adoption series. I love hearing all different points of view – each of them beautiful. I appreciate the chance to learn more. =) This is SUCH a beautiful post. I can only imagine how wonderful the book is!ReplyCancel

  • Karrin - I absolutely love this. I’ve had a heart to adopt since I was 13 and have always had the desire to adopt transracially. Thank you for sharing that the love is the same no matter the color, and that it’s multiplied by having an open adoption.ReplyCancel

  • jodilee0123 - I have three adopted kiddos–two are transracial adoptions.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Both of my sons were transracially adopted and they make me so head-over-heels happy. My spouse and I look for every resource available to make sure that they are secure in their culture, their beauty and to ensure that we are giving them every possible opportunity. The love we feel for their birth parents makes it even more special. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - I love your perspective. Your children are blessed to have you as their mamaReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Would love to read this book!ReplyCancel

  • NOELLE - thank you for the give-a-way! my husband and i are currently foster parents and hope to adopt at some point. we are open to any nationality, so there’s a good chance that this book will be very helpful :) beautiful post too – thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Megan Hall - My husband and I are just starting the adoption process. We’re adopting through the foster care system. We are trying to be as open as possible on our application so that we can be matched with the child God has for us, regardless of race. I think this book would be a great resource. Not only that, but adoption is a passion of mine and I write about it on my blog and do something once a year called Ornaments for Adoption. I think this book would be a great resource for me to have for blogging and raising awareness as well.ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Thank you for this lovely post and perspective. We’re in the middle of a transracial adoption via state foster care. This “fight” for what’s right for a precious child makes it easy to want to forget or dehumanize the very real and loving mother on the other side. We continue to walk by faith step by step ever so prayerfully. I love hearing the positive perspective of what I hope our open adoption looks like down the line.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - I would love this book! I’ve been reading White Sugar Brown Sugar since before we started the adoption process; and just started following Lauren Casper earlier this year. How cool is this adoption community?!ReplyCancel

  • Jessie - I would love this book. We have a multiracial family that was created through adoption and i love reading anything about adoption.ReplyCancel

  • Emily Wicks - We have started the journey of adoption and I would love to get a copy of this book and read about their journey.ReplyCancel

  • Erica - First time adoptive mama to a biracial baby girl due in March, would love to win this book!ReplyCancel

  • chelsie denson - WOW. This post was amazing! We love open adoption and have learned so much about selflessness from our birthmother. She did something that we couldn’t imagine doing. This post encourages me though to definitely make me think about how our family expresses open adoption. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel