Q&A: Rachel Garlinghouse on Transracial Adoption

Rachel Garlinghouse from the blog White Sugar, Brown Sugar has published her book on transracial adoption, titled Come Rain or Come Shine. She’s giving away a copy to a lucky commenter — details below.

author rachel garlinghouseThis is a guide for adoptive parents who find themselves facing the combination of adoptism and racism — these “isms” refer to being treated as less-than. I like the way Rachel set up her chapters. As part of each you’ll find Questions from the Trenches (which Rachel answers), Questions for Further Discussion (which are open), Practical Application, and comprehensive lists of Resources for Parents ad Resources for Kids. These are some of the features that make Rachel’s creation not just a book but a practical guide.

Here are some questions I posed to Rachel, along with her responses.

What prompted you to make the transition from transracial adoptive mom to transracial adoptive author?
I was born to write! I always knew I’d write a book, but each time I attempted, something wasn’t right: the timing, the angle, the subject. Then it dawned on me that I should write the book that no one else has. I did a lot of research to discover that most books on transracial adoption were outdated, too simplistic, and too textbook-ish. Readers needed a current, conversational, practical, comprehensive guide to transracial adoption. So I wrote it!

Tell us how you chose the title of your book, Come Rain or Come Shine.
I chose the title to represent transracial adoption: it’s joys (shine) and challenges (rain). They go hand-in-hand. And without rain, you wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine.

What surprised you about the book writing process? What surprised you about the publishing process?
Writing and publishing the book was a labor of love and torture! I was up until the early morning often, writing and revising. I had to fight my own inner critic: that I was too young, too inexperienced, too “green.” But the truth is, I knew, deep down, that I was on the right path. I was giving readers the book I wish I would have had when I started my adoption journey. God didn’t bless me with the gift to write for me to ignore that gift or use it half-heartedly. There are distinct moments in our adoption journey where I can look back and say that those things were are leading me to the date when my book went from a manuscript to a publication.

How did writing the book influence how you parent? You did a lot of research and included advice from many sources — which advice wase most impactful in your own home?
Most of the research was done long before I started writing the book, because I was trying to navigate aspects of adoption (openness, transracial, etc.) in my own family. So I read everything I could get my hands on. There are so many fantastic adoption books available, but because adoption is a specialized topic, the books aren’t always easy to find. One of my goals was to make sure I listed these resources in my book so readers could further their adoption education (without having to do all the digging to find the titles!).

I believe the best thing I’ve learned so far in adoption is that, as one of my chapters is titled, it takes a village. Trying to go at adoption alone is not only isolating and confusing, but it can also be detrimental. I have an adoptive mom support group of 100 local women: my village. They are brilliant and hysterically funny and honest. I need these women to be the mother I am.

In the nearly two years since I began writing the manuscript for my own book, my children have moved into new stages of processing their adoptedness, meaning that there are some portions of my book that I would make changes or additions to if I were writing it today. Have there been any parts of your book that you would modify, now that you have more parenting experience under your belt?
I do plan to revise the book in the future as my children get older.  One of the demons I battled while writing the book is that my kids weren’t old enough for me to write extensively about what adopted children might face as teens, for example. However, my “village” includes many parents who have adopted teens, so I leaned on them, and many adoption experts, to fill in the gaps for me.

What are your relationships like with your children’s birth parents? How is it navigating these six relationships?
We have three children and three open adoptions. I will say that open adoption is bittersweet. I’m quite mindful that my children’s biological parents suffered a great loss in placing their children for adoption and that loss is not something someone just “gets over” or “moves past.” I believe it has to be dealt with time and time again throughout life. We have been blessed, incredibly, with our open adoptions which include visits, texts, phone calls, and e-mails. It hasn’t been easy, but I believe it’s the best choice for my children. I want to be able to tell my children that I did everything in my power to allow them access to both information and relationships with their biological families.

transracial adoption book by rachel garlinghouseYou give advice in your book about protecting your children’s privacy and stories. How did you come to develop these healthy boundaries when it comes to inquiring minds that want to know?
Because we are a transracial family and our adoption status is obvious, hardly a day goes by where I’m not asked an adoption question. I always answer with education and with respect for my children and their stories. However, I am human. There are times when I get tired of the intrusive and often hurtful questions such as, “Are the kids real siblings?” (The world “real” here refers to biology. So if my kids aren’t considered “real” siblings, than I’m not their real parent, and we aren’t a real family.) Rather than snap when a stranger is crossing the line (persistently), I have had to walk away or change the subject. I’m aware that my children are always watching and listening to how I respond. I want them to know that people will be curious about our family, but it’s not ok for anyone to be disrespectful or invasive.

What’s next for you?  What are you currently working on?  How can readers get in touch with you?
I have another book idea, but with three little ones, writing for Adoption.net (column called Ask the Adoption Coach), writing articles, blogging and facilitating an adoptive mom support group, I have no plans to write another book in the immediate future.

I love getting messages from readers!  I can be reached via e-mailmy book’s FB page , or my blog’s FB page.  Readers are also encouraged to head over to Adoption.net’s FB page and ask their burning questions.   The editors select questions for me to answer in the Ask the Adoption Coach series.

~~~~~

Indicate in a comment below if you’d like to enter to win your own copy of Come Rain or Come Shine. Do so by midnight (MST) December 14. Rachel will use random.org to select a winner and send that person a book.

EDITED: April has won the drawing. We will try to reach you to fulfill the giveaway.

Congrats to April and thanks to all!

Speaking of adoption books, who on your list could make good use of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption? (Shameless plug? Why yes. Vanquish all forms of shame ;-) )

16 thoughts on “Q&A: Rachel Garlinghouse on Transracial Adoption”

  1. Great interview! It sounds like an interesting book. I would love to win a copy for my sister who is an transracial adoptive mom too. Regardless of if we win, I will be sure to let her know about this book, Jan’s though her oldest is only 3, she already asks very thoughtful and at times difficult questions about their different skin colors.

  2. I would love to win this book! We are just starting the adoption process and are very open to our child being from a different race than us. We’re from an area of the country with more diversity but currently live in a state that is not very diverse so I can see that we’ll get lots of questions and this book sounds like it will be really helpful! Thank you!

  3. I loved this adoptive mother’s voice through answering the questions. She is someone I know I would like if I were to meet in person. Her thought-provoking words that caught my attention as an adoptee were, “Rather than snap when a stranger is crossing the line (persistently), I have had to walk away or change the subject. I’m aware that my children are always watching and listening to how I respond. I want them to know that people will be curious about our family, but it’s not ok for anyone to be disrespectful or invasive.” For myself personally, I was thinking how difficult it was to have been raised with a non-biological adopted brother who was so close in age and struggled with some serious issues throughout our growing up. I needed a parent explaining that it was okay to have boundaries when others were being invasive or disrespectful. Strangers didn’t have to say anything to know what they were thinking. And I did take it that it was somehow a reflection of something I had done wrong. I wish Rachel much success with her book.

  4. This book is on my Christmas list, but I would love to win a copy! My husband and I are transracial adoptive parents to a 9 month old girl. I love reading Rachel’s blog and articles – I find them so helpful and inspiring. I look forward to reading her book!

  5. My husband and I would love to win this book! I follow Rachel’s blog and her posts to other blogs that touch on issues of race and adoption. We’re in the beginning stages of pursuing a transracial domestic adoption and are trying to be mindful of all of the nuanced issues (parenting in general, adoption, race, socioeconomic status, etc). Rachel’s writing has always been thought provoking but also humble and filled with grace, which I appreciate. As with any controversial issue, there can be so much animosity on either side.

  6. I am a mom who is beginning the adoption process and would love to learn more about the experiences of transracial adoptive parents. This looks like a fantastic. read. Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

  7. I would LOVE a copy of Rachel’s book! Thanks for hosting the giveaway Lavender Luz. If I win, I’ll review the book on Amazon and GoodReads but I really want it for my friend Tobi who brought home her long-awaited daughter Ivey this summer. Tobi and her husband are white and Ivey is African American. I read Rachel’s blog from time to time and think Tobi would enjoy Come Rain or Come Shine.

    Merry Christmas to you all!!!

    Jody Cantrell Dyer
    Author of The Eye of Adoption

  8. I would love to win a copy of her book. My children are biracial and I am white. I would love to adopt but unfortunately my husband is not open to the idea.

  9. Come Rain or Come Shine is on my wish list, but I’d love to win a copy! My husband and I both grew up with adoption on our hearts and decided at the tender age of 17, when we got engaged that we wanted to grow our family through adoption. We’ve always pictured ourselves with a transracial family and 7 years into marriage, we now have one biological daughter and are getting ready to grow our family again by adopting. A resource like this book would be such a blessing!

  10. I’d love a copy of this book, my husband and I are in the waiting period of our adoption and have opted to go transracial. I haven’t been able to find very many books on the topic and whether I win or not I will be looking to get this book.
    Thanks for sharing it here.

  11. Nicole, you might also like “Our Road to Family” by Kristen Nicole. It’s on Amazon and you can find out a little about it on my website http://www.jodydyer.com.

    I think it’s good for waiting families to read several books. No two adoption stories are the same, but we share elements, experiences, and certainly emotions.

    Merry Christmas!

  12. This sounds like a really neat book, and I would love to win a copy. If all goes as currently planned, I’m going to be adopting a baby boy of a different racial makeup than myself and my husband in February. We are always looking for more insights on the subject.

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