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286 | Lea Rachel - The Amazing Author on KKNW!

September 28, 2022

286 | Lea Rachel - The Amazing Author on KKNW!
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As first seen in the pages of the racial equity storytelling project Before Ferguson Beyond Ferguson, the semi–autobiographical narrative memoir Seeking Forgiveness tells the story of interracial adoption in the United States today, from the perspective of a white mother who adopts a Black son, and finds she has no idea what she is in for.

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Unknown Speaker  0:00  
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Welcome to positive talk radio evolving ideas, one conversation at a time, great guests dynamic stories and interviews plus new thoughts on a wide range of topics and concepts. I hope that you'll hang with me Kevin MacDonald, my friends. And of course, you as together we work to understand why we are all here and what we can do to make our world a better place for all of us to be happy. Be kind and live in peace together. Yep. It's positive talk radio.

Unknown Speaker  0:49  
And welcome to Friday. It's Friday, thank goodness, it's Friday, TGIF, I think is the appropriate way to say it. And and we've got a great show for you today. We've got a wonderful author. And she's got a very timely book out. And we're going to talk a great deal about that. And we might even slip in a little politics, not politics, but economics a little bit. But Nathan, how are you today, sir? Good afternoon, Kevin. And I wish I could go to a TGI Fridays right now, but we don't have those over here. So the best way to do it is bend it. Oops, spread it on. Talk Radio. I don't think I've ever done that before it hit the mic and send it flying.

Unknown Speaker  1:29  
He's excited to be here. I can tell. And I know TGI Fridays is everywhere in the world except for here. So I don't know why that is. But they in the South and in the Midwest. They are all over the place. And I think they're even some in St. Louis and,

Unknown Speaker  1:47  
and all ask Leah Rachel who is our guest today but but she is

Unknown Speaker  1:55  
a professor at a university in St. Louis. And she also a professor of economics. She's also an author. She's got a couple of books. By the way, I Nathan I love the idea that not this book was the book before that was the I think it's the

Unknown Speaker  2:15  
the other Shakespeare and it's a great novel about what would have happened if Shakespeare was a woman

Unknown Speaker  2:26  
got an opinion.

Unknown Speaker  2:29  
Just trying to think of all the you know, fancy Old English words that'll come out

Unknown Speaker  2:35  
by could not have has been the female gender of the persuasion because they were in the kitchen cooking.

Unknown Speaker  2:49  
So anyway, she wrote that book, but she's also got a very timely book out and and it's a it's a novel, but it's kind of a personal novel. So Leah, welcome to the show. How are you? I'm great. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Let me just say that actually TGIF they are in St. Louis, and is actually my husband's favorite restaurant. And so you just now made it clear that we can never move to Seattle.

Unknown Speaker  3:14  
That's all right. If you look at traffic, there's enough of this here already. So if you really like TGI Fridays, moved to St. Louis, or open one here we are talking about economics. So might be a good economic opportunity opened up TGI Fridays here. They exactly it's Friday. And that means that the stock market is open. And we have a professor of economics here. So I have to touch on it a little bit. Because the stock market, sadly is going down, down, down, down. Why? Well, so let me say I prefer to talk about Shakespeare.

Unknown Speaker  3:54  
So, yes, I am a professor of economics. But as I say, to many people, I actually don't focus on the stock market. I'm an environmental economist. So I can tell you a lot about pollution and clean water and energy resources. In general, I mean, I guess I know a little bit more about the stock market because, you know, I took some of those classes, I would say that everybody's freaking out. And a lot of times fear and uncertainty, those are the two big factors that can lead to volatility and stock market's going crazy. And I would say we've got both of those right now. People are uncertain what the Fed exactly is going to do, how far they're gonna have to raise rates and they're fearful. That means unemployment is going to go up and we're just at a precipice of not really knowing what's happening, and it's showing itself and all that down, down down.

Unknown Speaker  4:42  
So I've been I've been I've been told that just behave yourself and don't panic, because it's whatever go ahead whenever it goes down and always comes back up. Yeah, hopefully you've got enough time. Hopefully, you know, whatever money you have in the stock market isn't money you need to pay

Unknown Speaker  5:00  
rent next month. And it's more money that you need to set aside for retirement or whatnot. So you so hopefully you can wait it out there really is the best thing to do is not freak out and not try to move things around. Just wait it out. That's true. That's all that's really is all you can do. So I saw but let's talk about your book and the things that you've written because this is this is a really timely book and give us give us an outline of it, if you would. Well, thank you. So my latest book is called seeking forgiveness. And it's a semi autobiographical narrative memoir. So it's a little confusing because your memoir, you think it's going to be nonfiction. But I did make it fiction, what it's about is about interracial adoption. So I'm a white woman, I adopted a black son, I had no idea what the I was doing. And so the book is about that. But what I did was I had to make parts of that fiction to protect my son in the privacy of my son. So while it's very much based on our life, and there's a lot of vignettes about the mother's perspective of adopting and having an interracial family, so a lot of it did actually happen. And that, you know, those parts are nonfiction, but the, you know, the backstory of my son, his birth family, his history, that's his story to tell. And one day, maybe, I mean, he's sort of into this book, and he's been coming home a few times since school started telling me he wants to be a writer. So my dream is give him a few years, he'll write his side of the story, and you can get the full picture. But mine my book, seeking forgiveness is only semi autobiographical, but it's all about motherhood, interracial adoption, and trying to figure out how to do that in today's society.

Unknown Speaker  6:49  
Yeah, I'm talking with you previously. And we had a couple of conversations. And I was struck by the fact that you know, if you haven't gotten have yet, you haven't done that, if you haven't felt like and thought and adopted somebody that's another, you know, another race with from another culture. And although that, you might think that you that's what's the big deal? It's like, the, you know, he's born in America, he's, he's an American, and, and, and stuff like that. But

Unknown Speaker  7:19  
by way of illustration, tell us about your trip to the dentist. Yeah, so there's a lot of, you know, shocking, surprising eye opening sort of stories in the book. But one of them is the first time this is a true story. The first time I took my son to the dentist, so he was about five years old at the time, and it was time to get his first teeth cleaning. So I got the name of a pediatric dentist from a friend. We went, we showed up we walk in and the receptionist behind the counter, she should have slides the glass partition open and looks at us funny and then slides it shut and goes away. She comes back a few minutes later, and she looks up and down. And she says, Okay, well, I need your paper. And I like, you need my insurance card. Here's his insurance card. Here's my insurance card. She's like, No, no, and she like pushes them at me. No, I need your papers. And I said, I'm sorry, I really honestly don't know what you're talking about. And she said, to see the boy, I need proof from his guardian or parent that we can treat him because we can't treat him with proof, without proof that his legal guardian says it's okay. And I'm like, I'm his mother, I made the appointment. And she's like, Well, unless you can prove your his mother, we can't treat him. Well, who brings guardian or adoption or birth certificates to a dentist appointment? Nobody does that. So of course, I didn't have them and didn't know what to do. And he had to leave. And so we go in the car, and I'm buckling my son into his seat. And he's like, where's my lollipop because I told him that you'd get lollipops to the dentist. And I'm like, well go get some at the pharmacy, just you know, hold on. And then I get in my seat. And I put the car on reverse to back out of the parking spot. And I look over my seat and I make eye contact with my son. And he says to me, says Mom, did we have to leave because I'm black.

Unknown Speaker  9:02  
And I said to my son, no, we had to leave because mommy's white. And I did that on purpose. Because I have been working all of these years to make sure he does not blame himself for all the things that he faces in society, because that's the natural seems to be inclination for him to blame himself for these things. And it's been tough to make sure he doesn't internalize it like that. So if you've thought about having a adopting a child, and I highly recommend it, I think it's a really good thing. It takes a long time to be able to do it. You're telling me that it took you like a year and a half you had classes you had to take and and had a bunch of stuff you have to sign and prove that you were a good person and all that stuff. But if you if you are going down that road and decide you want to go do that, what are the challenges that that adopting? A black child would have? You wouldn't even think of

Unknown Speaker  10:00  
Bob? Yeah, well, no, that's a really good point. Because I mean, so when my husband and I entered the whole foster system and taking the classes and whatnot, you know, this was before Michael Brown before George Floyd for, you know, the term white privilege was really common parlance. And all admit, I certainly knew that there would be issues, and I'd have to make the effort to sort of understand other cultures and, you know, look out for him. But in all honesty, I, as well did not realize all of the different complexities and all the different things that would happen. And it started actually, in the classes we took. So the font and I believe foster systems are run per state. So it's probably different in every state, but you know, in Missouri, they, some of the classes they made you take, it did come up. And we did learn that there are people who don't believe in interracial adoption, and that if they could make the decision, they would not allow us as white parents to adopt black children. And I remember the first time I heard that was in these foster classes, and I was shocked a little bit like, I mean, not even allowed, like, and now we've come to understand it, I think the idea is that if you want to adopt cross culturally cross racially, there was a burden on you to make sure you learn about the other culture and not just take the child and sort of make them just, you know, only be around your culture. So I think interracial adoption is okay, and very rewarding. And something you know, I encourage people to do but at the same time, I now get it, that it's not easy. And it does require a level of effort to be made. You know, make sure you have friends in the other culture or race, you know, make sure you books and art and music. I mean, I literally I was taught I had a different interview yesterday, and I was telling, telling her how, like I had ad had asked friends for more recommendations on like hip hop artists that like arch the big

Unknown Speaker  11:53  
so that I can hear more and learn more. I mean, I literally had to just ask and, you know, find out about things. That would be, that would be really, really difficult to do.

Unknown Speaker  12:05  
Especially if it's a hip hop artist. I couldn't even Nathan, I'm sure knows. Some hip hop artists names. Oh, he doesn't either. Not my genre to be honest. I couldn't give you you know, and Run DMC. I don't know if that's even guy. I mean, I felt like, you know, I could have named like Kanye and Drake, and maybe Eminem, like some big names, but then you know, not, not other names, you know, not more common things. And like, I have a favorite right now. Nf although my son doesn't think NF is as the poppy as should be, but whatever. But yeah, so I had to learn. I mean, I'm not surprised I had to learn myself. And did you say an F? Yeah. I hope that last word isn't what I think it is. No, no, it's just the letters and Okay. Okay.

Unknown Speaker  12:56  
Well, you know, I don't know, I hear hip hop music. And they use a lot of

Unknown Speaker  13:02  
grammar that I don't think that we can say on the radio. Yes. And actually, that is an issue with my son now. And he's 12. And so he's really he got his very first phone at 12. And so he's only had it a few months now. And he i He's, he's synced it Bluetooth to my car. So whenever on my car, he now gets to be in charge of the radio through his phone. And I have to say that half the time I make him turn it off, because the language is too bad. But I don't like them. And then we are you because I tell them I'm like, It's not the music. The language is so many

Unknown Speaker  13:35  
years ago, I did a music show on KK and W and it was late at night. And there was a hip hop artist and and he sent the CD and, and the board operator at the time played the CD. I didn't even understand what the guy was saying. And you said no, you can't play that. No, you can't play that. Don't downplay that at all. And so it was really a bizarre thing for me. You know, it's a real cultural difference. And, you know, although, although kids kids today, they seem to like hip hop, and it doesn't matter what their racial makeup is, they tend to like it. I agree. I mean, when my son has playdates, and he has both white and black friends, whatever the friends are, they all seem to be listening to the same music and, and I have to say he's only 12 My son's very extroverted. He's already gone to two concerts. And the first one, he was invited by a white friend and the white friend's dad was the one who you know, chaperone them but

Unknown Speaker  14:36  
I'm trying to remember now little tech a little secos when we went to see a counselor, but so yeah, it was white friends who took them there they all are liking this music that we all people are trying to figure out.

Unknown Speaker  14:48  
We're not even sure it's music, quite frankly. But that's that's just me and i It's because I grew up in the land of the Beatles and and, and Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones and those guys

Unknown Speaker  15:00  
So but that's, I digress.

Unknown Speaker  15:03  
I like to call it talking in rhythm.

Unknown Speaker  15:05  
There you go. There you go. But I did want to ask you as well, because you are an educator. And you have run into this. I know. And and I think you talked about in your book a little bit, the differences in educational opportunities for predominantly brown black schools versus predominantly white schools. Yeah. Talk about that a little bit. Yeah, that that was another thing that again, really before I actually had to face it, I didn't understand. And, you know, part of the reason I wrote this book is because I would tell these stories to friends or relatives, and they'd be like, Oh, my God, I didn't know that. And, you know, so many people have asked me questions about our lives. So it's sort of like in this book now. But you know, what ended up happening was right before my son turned five, and you know, he needed to, I needed to enroll him in a kindergarten somewhere, I looked around at the schools. And, you know, I was trying to find a majority African American school that was also top ranked academically. And what I didn't realize is how hard that is to find to find both of those together. And I went to some of my black mother friends. And I asked them what they were doing what schools they because we had a group of actually black boys that were in preschool pre K, and that we'd get together to read and have them read. And so I asked a bunch of these moms, and they were like, well, this is a tough decision we ought to face and one mom said to me, Well, you know, I'm moving and we're going to an all white district, your top align school, and we're doing that because, you know, my son's gonna be a doctor or lawyer. So, you know, he needs to just get used to being the only black kid in the room. So I'm okay with sending him to a school that's all white, he'll come home. And you know, we'll give him the culture we need. Well, I remember thinking that sounds good. But I can't do that. Because I'm white. If I send them to an all white school, it comes home to white family, like how out of place will he feel. So we did end up choosing a school district that it wasn't majority black, but it was definitely diverse. I mean, I remember over the summer, going to the pool park in the area and loved how diverse it was. And it wasn't a bad academically arranged school, but it wasn't top either. And so, you know, we had to make that choice. That's where we started off. We didn't actually stay there. But but it's a really tough decision. I think, you know, especially for interracial families, wouldn't you? And again, if you're going to adopt, and racially, you should be aware, and not just, you know, send the kid to the local school that's near you, if it's all white. Now think about it. You've made a conscious decision between sort of really high ranked academics or a little bit less, and where will they feel out of place? You know, are they the kind of kid that can handle it or not? I mean, these are tough things that unfortunately, society makes us face.

Unknown Speaker  17:47  
By the way,

Unknown Speaker  17:49  
what does that say? What is going on there? Just a little echo, it's fine. It'll go away after like, half a second. Okay. And we're talking about Leah Rachel, and she's written the book, seeking forgiveness. And you can go to our website, which is Lea And it's Lea, our a c h e You can get a look at the book. It's out now, is it not?

Unknown Speaker  18:14  
Actually, you can pre order an ebook version of it now. But the book actually comes out October 18. So October 18. Very cool. So that's coming right up. So on October 18, you can go to Amazon and all the major places and you'll be able to get it there as well. I would think is that correct? Yeah. Yeah, it should be. Yeah, at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, all those kinds of places. Awesome. And I think it's going to do really, really well. Now. If you are in our audience, and you have got a story. Or if you are in a blended what I like to call a blended family. You know, because it's, you know, we're we're all we're all humans, we're all the same and we, whatever pigment our skin is, we have no control over. We only have control over how we act and who we are. But if you've got if you've got a blended family and we you would like to comment on our conversation today or add to the conversation, then you'd be I would be more than happy to take your call. And Nathan's gonna give you the numbers or numbers to call into the show or four to 53735527 or toll free at 1-888-298-5569. Again 425-373-5527 or 1-888-298-5569. Call us with your questions. Yes indeed if you if you would like to talk to Leah about about her experience that was that would just be awesome because it is it is quite a unique thing. Now there are other Lea there are other cultural differences that you had that you found out through the course of time. They just kind of came

Unknown Speaker  20:00  
up. Can you talk about a few of them? Yeah. So, you know, I do like to say that the book is very much just about motherhood and about adoption in general doesn't have to be interracial adoption. You know, one of the other issues that came up for us that was a memorable story had to do with religion actually.

Unknown Speaker  20:19  
So, my, so when my son was about one year old, he was just having his one year birthday, a really good friend of mine like that I grew up with, we went to college together, she flew in to come to his birthday party. And we were talking one day and I, you know, having to say something about buying Hanukkah presents, my father was actually Roman Catholic, but my mother was Jewish, we celebrated Hanukkah, I mean, very relaxed atmosphere in my house, but we like Hanukkah, who doesn't like eight nights of presence.

Unknown Speaker  20:49  
And so but I mentioned Hanukkah, and, and this friend of mine, and again, a close friend, she said, Wait, she said, you're raising your son, Jewish? And she said, wasn't his birth mother Christian, because his birth mother had left the Bible for him in a hospital? And I said, Well, yeah, his birth mother was Christian. And she said, well, then you have to raise them Christian, you can't raise them Jewish. And I remember I was just so taken aback like, one, I didn't understand how that was supposed to work. I was supposed to raise a child of mine and a religion that I wasn't. But to it made me realize how other people view us very differently than I like, I see adoption as permanent, as you know, as identical to flesh and blood birth giving as you can get, I mean, there's no going back. He's my family. He's like, you know, mine and integrated into our family as much as possible. I mean, my point being, if you can't imagine yourself saying to another family that has a birth family, why don't you raise a kid of different religion than you, you shouldn't think that's appropriate to say to me, and this was a close friend. So

Unknown Speaker  21:56  
it was just another one of those, you know, people can, you can know going in that adoption is a little more complex. But and I'm sure other adoptive families out there have stories like this as well, but it's just shocking when it happens. We don't I was just thinking about that. And

Unknown Speaker  22:14  
there was a famous guy who a famous comedian, and an actor, his name is Sammy Davis, Jr. Now, if you're not at a certain age, you have no idea who Sammy Davis Jr. was.

Unknown Speaker  22:28  
I don't know is it said, Nathan, do you have any idea who Sam is Davis, Sammy Davis Jr. was just a little bit I mean, familiar with the name, but like, as far as the song he wrote, I can't really tell you fantastic artists, though. Candyman.

Unknown Speaker  22:42  
Anyway, I have a grandson and he, so but he was he was Jewish. And was it was, so it's not like it's not culturally acceptable to be a Jewish individual. It has more to do with, and then the, I could just see you walking in to a Christian church and then saying, Welcome, how are you? And well, Hi, I'm fine. I'm Jewish. And, oh, we're gonna convert you. So I don't know how you would do that with a with a with a child? Yeah, it was just weird. And yeah, I do realize what you're saying there aren't very many. Or it doesn't seem like there's very many African Americans that are Jewish, but I've since learned, I mean, they're Jews of color. And, and, you know, like the brother on the blackest show, he was in the original Hamilton cast, you know, he's Jewish, and oh, my God, oh, Tiffany Haddish. She just had her own button mitzvah, like, so. I mean, every time there's a Jew of color that does something Jewish, like, my son and I are on it.

Unknown Speaker  23:42  
Well, you know, and it's great. And your son is doing well. He's, he's older than five now. So I'm not gonna say how old he is. Because that's, that's for him to say, when he turns a matter of fact, when he one of these days, in five or six or 10 years from now, I'd love to have him on to talk about, about his story. And, and what's going on with him. You know, I sometimes I tell him if I have interviews that like, oh, you know, some, you know, one day people are gonna want to meet you maybe or, you know, have you on and, and he's in a phase where he likes to tell jokes and like prank and stuff. And he's like, Oh, can I tell jokes tonight, like, he won't want to talk about the book or anything like that. He'll want to try to tell you really bad jokes like

Unknown Speaker  24:23  
I can. I can understand that. We, you don't have to have that edge. That's what they do. That's what they do. And it's really great. By the way, again, we're talking with Lea Rachel, and you can give us a call and talk to her about she's raising a while she's adopted and African American boy. And so there are challenges that go along with that. But I think as we continue on down our evolutionary evolutionary path, that that's going to become more and more blended families are more and more happening all the time. In fact,

Unknown Speaker  25:00  
When we come back, I'm going to take a little break. When we come back, I'm going to ask you about that talk. No, not that talk. The other talk that only

Unknown Speaker  25:14  
parents of an African American boy seem to have to have. And so we'll so I want you to do on that for a minute and a half. And we'll be right back. You're listening to KK and w 11:50am. And this is positive talk radio, and we'll be right back.

Unknown Speaker  25:33  
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Unknown Speaker  26:11  
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Unknown Speaker  26:59  
And welcome back everybody to another episode of positive talk radio. That's Friday, it's Friday. And we've got a great author with us today has got a great story. Her name is Leah Rachel, and the name of the book is seeking forgiveness that comes out in the middle of October. But we get it we get to have her talk about it first. And it's it's really cool. And I teased it prior to the break. And so I guess we need to talk about it now. But But when did you discover that there was going to be an additional talk that you need to have with your son? At one point? And I'm not talking about the birds and the bees? I'm talking about the other one? Yeah. Well, let me just say that that is a great question. And again, that is the kind of question that I get from people who are really curious about interracial adoption, I get questions about taking care of my son's hair, and about the talk and about school and religion, some of the other things we talked about. So again, if you're one of those people who has any questions on some of these issues, the book really is a good way to read up on all of these issues. But focusing on your question, the talk and how black boys need to behave in front of the police. So this is extremely important. It's something you must talk to your son about. And probably earlier than certainly white mothers especially maybe think, I mean, the idea is you still see your son as young and like a baby and cute when to society. He's getting older and bigger all the time. So initially, my feeling was to sort of let it organically come up. And I'll let you know that, you know, we, from the time he was very young 567 we would watch the news. And there's a sort of famous incident here in St. Louis, where just a mile from our house at an IHOP a bunch of high school boys had lunch or dinner, I think it was and they left. And the and the police immediately arrested them for not paying even though they did it. They just couldn't find the receipt. And it was you know it. So my son and I were watching it, it it came up. So what the first thing is, for anything that comes up organically, I will talk to my son about but I will say I did notice in some of these early talks that my son would sort of listen, but I couldn't tell if he was taking me seriously. I mean, he was a little too young for eye rolls, but I wasn't sure he took me seriously. So I literally and this is where I say, you know, it really is important to sort of make the effort and make friends cross culturally, I went to a good black male friend of mine. And I said, You know what, my son needs the talk, but he needs it from a black man. He needs to see it from somebody who can say this happened to me. And this is you know how I react when I get stopped by the police. And so I actually enlisted help

Unknown Speaker  29:44  
and had somebody else talk to him besides just my son. We continue to talk about it every time it comes up, which sadly it still does periodically.

Unknown Speaker  29:54  
Was he aware of George Floyd and what happened with

Unknown Speaker  30:00  
Did he actually see it on TV?

Unknown Speaker  30:03  
He he did not watch like the nine minute video or anything like that. But when when protests happened, we went to one together. Yes, I actually have a beautiful photo somebody else took of my son, you know, we walked the protests we went to, I don't remember two, three miles, whatever it was. But at the very end, when we got there, you know, everybody knelt down and raise their arm. And somebody took a great photo of my son with his my life matter sign in front of him in that pose. And it's just a gorgeous photo. I've got it enlarged, like on our wall now. So I took him to these things I get he was young, though. And so he went, and he was like a weird, he was so hard to know, with children, how much they're really processing and how much they're just going along. Because you're like, come on, we're going for a walk.

Unknown Speaker  30:51  
So he's been I, you know, my thing with him always, is I constantly say to him, you can ask me anything, I'll talk about anything. And I think he's sick of me saying that, but but, yeah, so he's, uh, he's been aware of everything. It's hard to know how much he's fully processed, but he's definitely aware of everything.

Unknown Speaker  31:11  
How do you feel? Well, let me preface this by saying that I have a good friend who is part of a blended family. She's white, her husband is black. And they have two interracial kids. And the older one is 2021. And he's driving now. And so he has her number on speed dial and is required to call anytime that the red, the blue lights come on behind him if he's had a trafficking, because every time he leaves the house, she's scared to death. If something's gonna happen to him, I can't imagine living that way that I must be. And I know that you're preparing for those days because he's not driving yet. Yeah, that them's them's days is coming pretty quick. Well, I can tell you, you know, there was another episode that I described in the book. I call it my Walmart chapter, but an incident where around, you know, Halloween time, which around now, you know, we went to Walmart, and to buy a whole bunch of candy and stuff. And I think it was just me and my son, I'm white, he's black, you know, we still gonna look like raining. And, you know, I'm checking out buying everything. And when we're just about done, he sort of grabs a bag of KitKats and walks ahead of me like opening them. And well, because he's a little bit ahead of me. And he's just like opening this bag and starting to eat it. He gets stopped by security. And they say you're stealing that. And pretty swiftly. You know, I don't know, like, I didn't even know this until I saw it. Like if we as you're leaving Walmart between the two, like the doors that open and shut the it looks like a wall. But it's a security center with a door that opens and they can pretty swiftly grab you and stick you in that door. And then you're gone. There's no window or anything. grabbed my son taken behind the door. And I'm like, What is going on? And the thing is, they don't realize I'm his mother. So I'm like, Where are you taking my son and the woman who's still out with the walkie talkies? Like don't worry, you know, something happened, you can go home now I'm like, no, no, my son, what are you doing? And it took like, a few minutes to explain to this person that I paid for that Here's the receipt I am that person's Mother, give me my son. And so you know, you mentioned like being on speed dial, you can be there and not even be able to protect him. And you have to convince people that you're his mother. And it's like, you know, makes me crazy. And you know, for those few minutes, he's behind that door closed off in a security room being accused of something he didn't do. I don't know what's happening to him.

Unknown Speaker  34:00  
And you read the book to find out more of what happens but

Unknown Speaker  34:05  
there's a teaser for you. Well, that's that's, that would be horrific. That would be a skill that you don't because when you think about a weed, a lot of us don't have to deal with any of that. But it would be it would be a really horrific thing to have to go through on a day to day basis I want to talk to you to about when you decided you are going to adopt and tell us that story. And also the foster care situation that you were in the over a period of time that that before you were actually able to adopt him

Unknown Speaker  34:40  
so um so I'm not sure what your You mean the story about like why we adopted or once we were once we were in there like that whole checklist and all that other thing that they gave us. Oh the checklist and and also that that you were became his foster parents. Yeah. And at a time, so Okay, so let me

Unknown Speaker  35:00  
A little bit back up until vote. So one, it, let me just start by saying that most people assume that I adopted because of fertility issues. And that's actually not the case. My husband, I were a little bit on the fence of becoming parents at all. And then a friend of mine, I was with some other women and a woman was talking about foster care and fostering to adopt. And it was like a light went out, like I didn't even think of it as an option. And another reason for writing this book is I feel like so many people, and you know, there are a lot of infertility issues, but so many people don't even think about the foster system, and all the kids that are there to adopt. And myself as well, the minute it's sort of like, became, I became aware of it, I mean, I guess it sounds silly that I hadn't even thought about it. I was like, Oh, I'm no longer on the fence, you know, if becoming a mother isn't just about like me and my life, it's also about the child, you know, I want to do this, and I came home and my husband was on board, and we signed up. Now the foster system is again, I think, different in every state.

Unknown Speaker  35:59  
In St. Louis, one of the first things that happens when you're first signing up and taking the classes, they give you this like two page long sheet with lots of different characteristics. And you have to check mark, like, Yes, I'm willing to adopt or No, I'm not willing to adopt. And, and I tell you to please be honest, like you're not doing us or the child any favors, if you just like for politically correct reason, say, you know, sure, give me anything. And I will say that the most of the things that you have to check or not check are medical conditions, you know, Down syndrome and autism and some other things like that. And I will admit, I was very hesitant about checking some of those I was actually born very sick, I grew up in a hospital for a number of years, I have a little bit of PTSD, I sometimes get panic attacks when I go to a hospital. So I remember thinking, I don't know if I can be a good mother to somebody who's in the hospital all the time. So I agonized over those. But then when it came to the racial characteristics, I'm like, that's fine. I just checked all those like I can, I can take anything.

Unknown Speaker  36:56  
And, you know, the foster system is about fostering initially, like you can't go in and say I want to adopt, I mean, you can do that. But they usually roll their eyes at you. Because as it should be, the primary goal of the foster system is reunification with birth families. So if they can't, if a child can't be reunified with the birth family, then they're open for adoption. But it is true. So I understand why not everybody adopt. So I feel like I want everybody to be aware of the option. But I understand why not everybody adopted the foster system, because it will probably take a little while adoption isn't the first goal. The first goal usually is your foster parent for at least usually about a year, year and a half. And if reunification isn't possible, for whatever reason, and there can be many reasons, then the child is open for adoption.

Unknown Speaker  37:46  
And in this case,

Unknown Speaker  37:49  
the birth parents or the birth mother

Unknown Speaker  37:52  
is not capable or available or for whatever reason, and isn't capable. And is there a chance that she could come back at one point and say, yeah, well back. So so it's my understanding that in the late 1990s, I think it's like around 1995 1996.

Unknown Speaker  38:10  
While it is per state, almost across the country, a lot of very important adoption laws were passed. So it used to be that before this, these laws were passed in most of the states in the late 1990s, a child in the foster system could really languish there because you're trying to reunify with a birth parents or mother or father. And so if they're starting to make progress, like getting a job or getting a safe home, then then they get more time. But then maybe they can backtrack, and something happens and they lose their job or you know, something else unfortunate. And then you know, it's nothing. So there were stories of children who were never adopted, and were being, you know, like, you know, for six, nine or more years in this sort of limbo, and people realize it's just really not healthy for them.

Unknown Speaker  38:55  
So Missouri, as well as, again, I'm not an expert in like the legal field or anything, but it's my understanding many, many states and late 1990s passed a law that makes it so children can't be in limbo forever. And in Missouri, which I know a little more about. It's 15 months. So birth, parents get 15 months, if after 15 months, they have not made adequate progress to show that there's good reason to reunify with their children. Then time's up. And and if they have a termination of parental rights now, hopefully doesn't have to get there. Again, I don't want to talk about what happened with us, because that's my son's story. But in Missouri, it's usually about 15 months that there's termination of parental rights, if there hasn't been reunification, and then you get to adopt. Now you've been in the the foster care system and you've, you've adopted your son, and things have changed this year, in many states around the country where abortion is no longer legal. And so do you think from your experience that there will be

Unknown Speaker  40:00  
More children to adopt, or the pool is going to grow because more more babies are going to come to her.

Unknown Speaker  40:08  
Um, I mean, that's a very interesting question. I mean,

Unknown Speaker  40:14  
I don't know if anybody has the answer. Now, but I'm gonna guess I mean, I imagine some, you'd like to think that you're there's some states where it's still legal. There's, you know, over the counter medicine, but, you know, given other options, it's just been made more difficult. And whenever there's back to my economist, whenever there's a transaction costs, right, or stand in the gear or difficulty, then it's going to affect the outcome. So I think no matter what, yes, probably the answer to your question is yes, for sure. And, and probably, there'll be more children, especially to lower income women who can't make the trips out to other states and whatnot. And so

Unknown Speaker  40:56  
yeah, it's probably good, there's probably gonna be more Yeah. So this, that's one of the the reason I bring that up, is your book is very timely. Because if there are more lower income and lower income can be white or black, but in a lot of cases, it's it's black woman, and they can't get out. And so they bring a baby to term, but can't take care of it properly, then there's a real possibility that it's going to be there for adoption. So So for people to understand what it's like to and some of the pitfalls of raising African American child is it really is a good idea. Yeah. And again, yeah, pitfalls. And let me also say joys, I mean, there's both that come, you know, but I do want to say, I'm glad you brought this up. And especially, you know, you mentioned my previous book, the other Shakespeare, which imagines you know, what would have happened if she were born a woman, I will tell you, Well, I liked that book, and it got good reviews, it is depressing. Because you can't, there's not really a good outcome to a woman trying to like, do her own thing and 1500s London, so buy it, if you want, I will tell you, it doesn't end all that happily. Now, having said that, seeking forgiveness this book, you know, one of the things that I like about it is I think it is very gut wrenching. It's very emotional. There's definitely highs and lows and shockers in the book. But I will say that, I believe it ends on a hopeful note, I believe it ends on the strength. You know, again, from the mother's perspective, I feel like the main thing is, it's about motherhood. And it's about the love of a mother for her son, how strong that bond can be and how it can get a family through almost anything.

Unknown Speaker  42:39  
That is incredible. And by the way, your first book, The other Shakespeare, good, you know, Nathan, that, you know, women have moved from where they were then. But did you know Nathan that in the 1500s? If you were in a play, and you played a woman, you were a man?

Unknown Speaker  42:58  
Yeah, men got to kiss each other.

Unknown Speaker  43:01  
He doesn't want to answer that.

Unknown Speaker  43:04  
Look it up. Women were not allowed to be on stage during Shakespeare's time. So they had men that play the parts of women. He's now his fever

Unknown Speaker  43:19  
was he wants to make sure that I'm being accurate well, and just think if they didn't, if they didn't let women play the parts they definitely didn't like when right the plays. And in my book, I'm trying to have her write the plays and come up with the stories and of course, they're like, that's interesting, nice lady, do you want to just sleep with me instead?

Unknown Speaker  43:36  
And, and be a director or be a writer and and to put it all together? Women were not allowed to do any of that stuff. And of course, it's been 100 years now since you got the right to vote. Thank goodness that you did. And, and stuff. So you've improved over time. And that was my point is it's gotten better over time, but it ain't where it needs to be it. Yeah, yeah. And I'm realizing there's a theme to my books, who knows what my next one will be that it is about trying to break down barriers and hopefully, you know, see how we can make the world a little bit of a better place and but not you know, shying away from how difficult some things are still Yeah. And and that the interracial thing and, and with especially specially black young men, it is it is very difficult right now because they are stereotyped in a certain way, even if even if they are

Unknown Speaker  44:32  
intelligent, and can can speak well and and can act appropriately and they're not they're not off the rails. Because you can be black or white and be off the rails. But if you but I mean yeah, and I can tell you I can tell you stories I'm gonna get I got more and more fun stories mean my son went through a phase when he was about 10 or 11, where anytime I asked him to do his homework, his response to me was, you don't know what it's like to be black.

Unknown Speaker  45:00  
And I would say, I would say, baby, you are right. I have no idea what it's like to be back. But you still have to do your homework.

Unknown Speaker  45:09  
But it was weird how and it's on the first day. It's funny because I was I was waiting for the time when he said to me, you're not my real mother because all adoptive mothers wait for that moment, you know, that's gonna happen. And what and so that one I was like, ready for? I wasn't ready for the you don't know what it's like to be black mom. Set and again, any almost would say with a joke because he knew he was saying it just tried to get out of things. And so, you know, I think my response was, yes, you are right. I don't but, you know, brush your teeth and Time for bed.

Unknown Speaker  45:40  
You know, eventually this phase stop. He doesn't do it anymore. But I guess the point is, yeah, you never you cut. You have to figure out how to be okay. With different outbursts, you all kids are gonna have outbursts, and all kids are gonna say different things. And, and it can be a nerve wracking, but hilarious, too. You know, it's motherhood, this is motherhood. And it's a beautiful thing that you're that you're doing and, and the book seeking forgiveness is coming out in the middle of August, October, and go pick it up. And and it can it can really be a blueprint for you to come up with an idea of what's what it's like. And do you still do you feel like now after, after this many years that you've kind of got it figured out and got it all together? And and you're good to go? Or do you still have more to learn? Oh, that's a good question. Yeah, I'm saying, Oh, I so don't know what I'm doing. So on some levels. I mean, I will say like, and I've said this before, I think personally, the hardest thing about motherhood is you genuinely really never know if you're doing it. Right. So you know, like I said earlier, I got him a phone. He was 12. He was the last kid of his front, most of his friends got their phones at 10. I had no idea what was the right age, there's no like guidebook, or, you know, you can look up on page 12 of, you know, some index like when to give a kid his phone or, you know, what do you do? The first time he steals a pack of gum from the gas station? I mean, I did that as a kid. In all honesty, I still packs a gun from the gas station, but what do you how do you respond to that? And, you know, what do you do when your kid says to you, I hate my life? Like, there's no good answer. You can hope you do the right thing. How do you choose what school devoted? We talked about schooling? Like, as a mother, I've agonized over these things and dealt with them. And I think the hardest part is that you simply never know if you actually did it right or not. And you never will know. And you can only do and that's why you know the book is titled seeking forgiveness because the mother tries her best. She makes mistakes, and is always learning to answer your question and you just gotta cross your fingers and hope their therapy bill isn't too high when they get older.

Unknown Speaker  47:55  
We quite frankly, we all need therapy when we get one

Unknown Speaker  48:00  
but but it's it's it's amazing that you're doing as well as you are and I can tell by just talking with you that your your your hearts in the right place are a hell of a mother and you're working every day. I bet it's kind of I thought it was kind of funny when he was saying you don't know what it's like to be black he was actually beginning to use that against you. When you were telling him to go do his homework and stuff. Yeah, well, I think he did he didn't do that. You're not my real mother. But you know he only did that once because again I was like I think I even set up like I have a waiting for you to say that.

Unknown Speaker  48:35  
I was like it took longer than I thought I was like you're right I'm not now what do you want for dinner? It was again over something really minor. And because I didn't take it in a devastating manner like you know, but I try I'm here but you know, like he realized that one he could he can bring these things up and talk to the and joke with me about them or just bring them up and I'm willing to hear them without yelling at him or you know being devastating. But I have to say it neutralize it to when when you just agree with them. You're like yeah, I'm I'm not but I am here. And I love you and you need to tell me if you want macaroni and cheese or fish sticks. So what is it?

Unknown Speaker  49:15  
Oh, was you know doing to raise children I'm done with mine. And I forgot more about raising them than then you're bringing me back to do a bunch of stuff. When you have a child in stuff. It makes it really it can be really challenging. And you're right if it's your first one Yeah, you don't know if it's your second one you think you know? And if you're the third one you really don't care. So I found that's what I've heard. I fell into the third one category so by the time I got there they were like, oh you fell in hit your head I'll shut up and get up.

Unknown Speaker  49:53  
I'm bleeding though. But now you're fine.

Unknown Speaker  49:56  
Too funny too funny, you know, but that's but and you

Unknown Speaker  50:00  
The first one, it's, everything's brand new and it's different, and it's real and all that kind of. So yeah, and you know, I'm trying, I'm always trying to do my best. Yeah, I will say one of the other things is I've learned that, you know, you try to correct the things that happen wrong. And when you're a child, you're like, I'm going to do that better. And what I've learned is that what were your issues are not your child's issues. So like, I had a single working mom, she would always like forget to pick me up like I can I have memories of being in the old days, if you were late being picked up from like, aftercare, they kicked you out, you sat on the curb, and like watch the cars go by. And I visually remember watching the cars go by wondering if my mother would ever pick me up. So I remember saying, I will never, my kid will never be the last one to be picked up anywhere. So he started aftercare. I'd get there, like an hour early, I'd show up and he'd be like, Mom, I'm not done playing with Legos, can you leave and come back?

Unknown Speaker  50:51  
He literally my son's. Again, I think I said he's an extrovert. It took me a few months to realize he wants to be the last kid there.

Unknown Speaker  51:00  
It dawned on me that, like my issues are not his issues. And he probably has issues and they're probably things I'm doing wrong. But I don't know what they are. Because they're not mine.

Unknown Speaker  51:11  
He was having a great time. And by the way, if you're the last one there, you get your pick of any toy you want. Yeah, and you get to apparently, what I didn't realize is you get to take your Lego builds, and like hide them until then. So because if you leave and you left, leave your little Lego building or whatever kid other kids will come and take apart where you build and use those bricks. But if you're the last one, you can like take your bricks and like put it on a shelf. So that when you get there the next day, nobody has taken apart what you've built. That's pretty smart.

Unknown Speaker  51:40  
You know, kids are kids are pretty smart these days. So

Unknown Speaker  51:44  
congratulations. And, and by the way, we haven't talked much about your husband, but he is on board with all this. And and, and he's a great father, as well, I would assume. Yeah. For all I know, he's listening right now. I did give him the link.

Unknown Speaker  51:59  
I did.

Unknown Speaker  52:01  
Yeah, I mean, he is I do have the kind of husband who pretty much just lets me make a lot of the major decisions. But he's a happy, happy wife. Happy Life is what he says. So he's, he's a good guy. That's exactly right. And my motto always was apparently it didn't work out all that well, because we're no longer together. But if you do what you're told, sometimes you get to do what you want. Oh, I like that. I figured you would have to say that back to him. I gotta run that.

Unknown Speaker  52:30  
Yes, if you if yes, indeed. So, by the way, we've just got a couple of minutes left. And I would like you to take the time we have left and talk to our audience about anything that you would like them to know.

Unknown Speaker  52:42  
Yeah, well, so I would say that, you know, if you've got any interest in the books or any questions about interracial adoption, or want to see any of my other writings, I'm I have a blog, I have reading projects. Again, my websites, the best place to go to find the books and then the links to buy them and other things. So again, it's www dot lair. And that's one word l e a r a c h e l. And I have to say, like, I'm, I'm, you know, I'm willing to also even just answer questions. So, you know, this past Mother's Day, I wrote a piece that got published in some local newspapers in St. Louis, about interracial adoption. And I got some emails, I got handwritten letters from people, mostly from other interracial family saying, Oh, my God, thank you. Somebody's finally writing about what it's actually like, but not. I mean, I want one who said I've been, you know, for 50 years, I have an interracial family. I've never seen a newspaper article, people actually talked about what it's like. So my larger point is, you can feel free to contact me Laya at lair, is my email if anybody has questions about interracial adoption or anything? Hopefully no hate mail, but send it along? Well, I'm open for anything. But layer www rich about calm. You haven't gotten any hate mail about this? No, not yet.

Unknown Speaker  53:57  

Unknown Speaker  53:59  
if you send it forwarded to me, if you get any hate mail, I'll deal with it. I'll deal with them. That's just not, that's just not appropriate. And it's been great having you here. And I really appreciate it. And it's such a timely issue. Because I go ahead. Well, I mean, thank you for having me. Like I do think it's something that people are very curious about and have questions or sometimes are afraid to ask sometimes aren't. So thank you for having the topic in the book seeking forgiveness on your show, because I do think people are very curious. So hopefully this will help answer a lot of questions people have. I just can't imagine having

Unknown Speaker  54:37  
when you went to the dentist and they said where's your papers that you desire? You are in East Germany or something? Like I tell people what are there like white women around St. Louis stealing young black children and taking them for free dental care? I mean, it's the dumbest thing I've ever heard like, I reported them to the Missouri dental board to end that story, but it didn't go anywhere. Oh, well. That's that's why we've been again talking about our

Unknown Speaker  55:00  
I'm Rachel

Unknown Speaker  55:02  
adoption and Lea Rachel get the book seeking forgiveness. And I want to thank everybody for being here. We're going to be back at 9am on Monday and please be kind to one another because each other is all we got.

Kevin McDonald


Creator and Host of Positive Talk Radio and its Parent Company