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There is no blueprint to building relationships with family you never knew you had

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As I am working to build relationships with some of my birth father’s family, I have come to realize there is no blueprint for how to do this. Some in the family are quite comfortable with me being in their lives, others still wonder why I came around in the first place.
Each visit is emotionally draining. I have come to learn that I come across as a calm, collected person even when my thoughts are racing, making it vital for me to take time after each visit to process what I am learning. Aside from my first visit with my grandmother, there haven’t been a lot of tears shed when we are together. Instead, a lot of laughter has been shared, stories exchanged and a growing knowledge that our paths needed to cross for me to feel whole.
Meeting after he passed away adds a layer of complexity to our conversations. They are all learning how to live in a world without their beloved son, husband, brother and uncle. The family secret that everyone knew but did not talk about is out in the ope…

A parent's perspective on RTT's episode about transracial adoption

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Regardless of what you think about race in America, my experience as a white man is undoubtedly different than the experience my daughter has, and will continue to have, growing up. I never feel like I understand quite enough, and I always want my daughter to feel like she can come to me for help, so I always push myself to learn more. Her experience growing up will be vastly different than mine in part because we are a transracial family.
To try understanding what The Kid might face growing up, I follow several transracial adoptees and their journeys online, including Angela Tucker and her series, The Adopted Life. Watching the series and reading any of the interviews she shares online has helped me confront fears that I have as an adoptive parent and to better understand my own history having never met my birth father.
When Angela took to Twitter to announce that the episode of Red Table Talk featuring her story was going to air soon, I was nervous about how they would portray he…

What adoptive parents don't tell you during National Adoption Month

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This post originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press as an op-ed in November 2014. 

When my wife Gladys and I were going through the mandated screening needed to adopt our daughter, our social worker joked that there is a no-return policy on adopted kids. I am sure she intended it to be our final reminder that adopting a child is a permanent lifestyle change. I heard her and immediately assumed that someone she worked with must have changed their mind at some point, and she wanted to make sure that never happened to another child.
I do not know if my assumption was right, but I was reminded of it reading some of the comments on the hashtag for National Adoption Month, which is happening right now. There is very little “real talk” in recruiting potential adoptive parents, and that needs to change.
The reality for adoptive parents is that for you to have a family, another family has experienced a tragic loss and the child you are adopting knows it, even the little ones. Once your a…

It’s been almost a year since my birth father died. I’m still grieving.

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The day I found out he died started no differently than any other Monday. I started my day running into a meeting just a few minutes late because I wanted to make sure I walked my daughter into her classroom and we hardly ever got to school right on time. For the past few years, that was the one time I each day I knew I would have uninterrupted time with her, so I held that time as sacrosanct, even if it meant being late to a meeting or two.
My two meetings wrapped up by 9:45 and I was at my desk, downloading the data I needed to complete my part of a report that went to our vice president each Monday afternoon. As I was waiting for a spreadsheet to download from Twitter, I decided to sneak a peek at my Facebook account. Scrolling down my timeline, I was dumbfounded by the post I saw from my birth father’s cousin, the cousin I had connected with a few months earlier in an effort to contact him.
Honestly, I cannot remember what the post said except that my birth father had died from …