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Author’s book fosters celebration of differences

By Staff | Mar 18, 2011

Diana Brubaker said she knew early on that she would need to instill in her African-American adopted son, Mazi, a strong sense of self, compassion and confidence in order to handle the questions and stares as he grew up.

“Mazi was six weeks old when we took a family vacation to California. There in the middle of Chinatown, while I’m on the side of the street feeding my infant, a woman boldly came up and made some unkind comments about our mixed-race family,” Brubaker said.

Brubaker said she couldn’t find anything appropriate online when looking for books to help guide her with her family’s situation. So she began thinking about, and later started, the process of writing her own during middle-of-the-night feedings with Mazi.

“I started thinking about how I would handle these moments as Mazi grows. How could I teach Mazi to handle these moments with grace, confidence and compassion? And so the book was born,” she said.

After two years, “Reach with Your Heart” was published in December 2010. According to Brubaker, it is a story of universal love and compassion.

Brubaker and husband, Matthew Patterson, have been together for 21 years. The two, who say they made a conscious choice to adopt over having their own children, note that their decision was a way of extending a hand to help another.

The couple moved from White Sulphur Springs to Shepherdstown in 2010. Brubaker holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Kentucky University and graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City. She has had her own business providing holistic health counseling, massage therapy, cranial sacral therapy and meditation. Currently, Brubaker is a stay-at-home mom who teaches yoga part time.

Brubaker and Patterson have traveled extensively to places such as Kenya, China, Tibet, Nepal and India. Brubaker says the book has been well-received so far.

Having been on the adoption wait list for two years, the couple had nearly given up on the idea of getting a baby. Brubaker recalled how she had finally given away of all the baby items just before getting the call that they were the backup family for Mazi.

“I could already feel Mazi in my arms the moment I got the call from our adoption agent asking us to be a backup family. Our agent did her job by giving us reality checks that things were not certain and to be prepared for anything, but in my heart I knew he was my son,” Brubaker said.

But within two weeks, the baby had been born and the couple was now the first choice. Soon enough, the couple legally adopted their son. With all the steps in the complicated adoption process, Brubaker said the waiting was the hardest part.

Mazi is like any other 2-year-old boy, rambunctious with a love of airplanes. The family often plays at Morgan’s Grove Park where Mazi likes to swing, repeatedly go down the slide and explore the park’s natural surroundings. “Mazi is wonderful,” Brubaker said. “Full of vitality and joy.”

According to Brubaker, the family enjoys living in the Eastern Panhandle, raising Mazi in what she describes as an open, friendly and diverse community.

“Reach with Your Heart” is filled with family photographs and includes words of encouragement to understand and celebrate differences.

The book is available locally at Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown and online at Amazon.com.