All Articles Tagged "Adoption"
I Love You Anyway…
Of all the gifts that life has to offer, a loving mother is one of the greatest. I spent many years holding hurt and anger towards you for giving me up for adoption at birth. When I learned that you left me at a cold hospital as a result of being born prematurely and death pending, my frustration and anger grew even greater. When I searched and discovered that at the time of my birth I had five other brothers and sister who I will never meet, the anger continued to soar. When I scheduled a session to meet you at the age of thirty-six, only to be given notice that you did not want to meet the son you gave up for adoption, you already know frustration continued to increase. These experiences left me with a question that I will never be able to answer. Why did my biological mother give me up for adoption? Was it your decision solely, or did you and my biological father come to a joint decision? Was it because I was born premature and severely ill and you did not think I would live? Was it because you already had five children and could not handle the financial responsibility of another? All of these unanswered questions I will have to live with, but I have made peace in my heart and mind.
For a long time my adoption was hidden from me, although my cousins made attempts to reveal in laughter what was a long kept family secret. I learned I was adopted at the age of thirteen when a family member blurted it out in response to me being disobedient. My parents the next morning before I left for school confirmed this was so. This sent my life into a downward swirl as I sought my identity. I wanted to know what you look. Do I share any of your features or do I look like by biological father? I remember going to the hospital as a result of an allergic reaction. When the physician asked me questions about my family history, and I shared with him that I was adopted, he ordered the nurse to test me for everything.
In 2011 after hiring an agency that specialized in reconnecting children and their biological parents, I found myself at an emotional crossroads when you refused to meet with me. My feelings of rejection were at an all time high. As I cried in the presence of my mentor, he encouraged me to do something positive. I took my pain and published a book for others who also feel rejected, abandoned, and wrestle with childhood hurts. While writing the book, I was encouraged through God to see that you, my biological mother who I once held passionate anger for, is the one who I should truly be thankful for. By that revelation, I want to say thank you.
Thank you for not choosing to abort me which would have eliminated my existence before there was any hope. Thank you for loving me enough to free me from the care that you could not provide, it made me available for my two loving parents who raised me in a loving home and provided me with the necessary elements to become a productive human being. I want you to know that because of your sacrifice, I have been able to grow up in a home that prepared me for higher education as I have earned two degrees one from the renowned Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and Duke University in Durham, NC.
I have good news for you mother. I am in ministry and serve as lead pastor of Mount Ararat Church of Brooklyn, New York. What a privilege it is for me to serve and show others what it means to be loved. As a result of being adopted, every year we host an Annual Adoption Day which allow potential parents to learn about the children who are in need of a home. I have to thank you for this as well, without being giving up for adoption, this would have never been a passion of mine.
I want you to be at peace and know that your child who you probably held in your arm after birth before making the decision to part ways is doing well and has totally forgiven you freely and fully. The greatest gift you gave me was making me available for parents who would love and care for me, and for that I have to say that I love you and I wish you the greatest Mother’s Day ever. May God continue to bless you and know that your pregnancy with me was not a mistake.
The Son You Never Met,
Steven Eugene Carter
Pastor Carter shared his personal story of adoption in a full-page feature in the April 2015 issue of Ebony and was invited by the Administration for Children and Families to keynote their annual conference held at The White House. With glowing endorsements from TV/Radio host Al Sharpton, Pastors Floyd H. Flake and M. Elaine Flake of The Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral of New York, Resurrection from Rejection: Healing from 7 Areas of Rejection in Your Life has proven that this narrative is effective, evergreen messaging that needs to be read by all.
Author, Resurrection from Rejection: Healing from 7 Areas of Rejection In Your Life
Website: www.steven-carter.com | Blog: www.stevencarterny.com
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It’s a sad, seemingly familiar stories. Children wait around to get adopted and the last ones to go are black children as couples scramble to adopt babies or look to China, Russia and other countries to add to their family. A fascinating article shows us there’s a lot we don’t know about international adoption. White families in Canada, but more and more in Europe, are adopting more black children from the United States.
Overseas adoption of American children has been most common in Canada but increasingly, kids are going to Europe, especially the Netherlands. Concerned about where children from abroad actually come from–were they kidnapped? What’s their health history?–European families find they don’t have the same uncertainty when it comes to American children. And for gay couples, American children are really their only option. Same-sex families find that the United States is really one of the few countries where they can find a child to complete their family.
And it’s not just European families seeking out American children; birth mothers and even states look to Europe when trying to place children. American birth mothers who choose where their children go feel they’re giving their black or biracial children the chance to escape racism. Noting that children of color get adopted at lower rates, some states give priority to black children when an overseas family starts looking for a baby.
But why the high rates of adoption in the Netherlands? The growth there seems to have been a word-of-mouth effect of one lawyer’s adoption case win. And the Dutch are just more open with their families, apparently. They want a child of any color in the families and more receptive to the idea of an open adoption.
That doesn’t mean they don’t do their best to make their black babies feel comfortable in their skin and understand their roots. CNN attended a picnic for about 70 Dutch families who’d adopted their children the United States, many of whom are black and biracial. Marielle and Marnix van den Biggelaar know how important this event is for their two young adopted children:
“It’s really nice to see them all together and to talk to each other about experiences — with their hair and with their skin — and they’re all the same people with the same mindset, so it’s really fun for the kids and for us, as well.”
The couple encourages their children to embrace their American origins, celebrating Thanksgiving each year with other families who adopted children from the United States. “We try to tell them about their culture and about their background,” said Marielle, who decided to adopt after years of unsuccessful fertility treatment. “We would love them to (start speaking) English when they’re really young because if they want to go back (to America) and if they want to see where they’re born, it would be nice if they can speak to … their parents if they are going to meet them.”
It’s sad black children in the United States have such a hard time getting adopted, so any family willing to open its home–and its hearts–for a child should be applauded. We hope the love adoptive parents give is strong enough to fight against racism (it’s silly to think it doesn’t exist at all in Europe or Canada) and any fish-out-of-water feelings an adopted child might feel. Do you know of children being adopted into European families?
There are so many children, so many Black children, living in the foster care system and they all need good homes. So we were happy to learn that Sandra Bullock has adopted a 3 1/2 year old girl from the foster care system in Louisiana.
The fact that Laila (pronounced Lila) was adopted past infancy is remarkable in and of itself as this is not the case for many children.
In the cover story for People, the 51-year-old actress talked about the process of adopting this little girl, five years after she adopted her son Louis in 2010. She shared her journey and was photographed by her boyfriend Bryan Randall. Bullock kept the full view of Louis and Laila’s face obscured but decided to pose with the children in an attempt to bring awareness to the 415,129 children living in the foster care system in the United States.
“When I look at Laila, there’s no doubt in my mind that she was supposed to be here. I can tell you absolutely, the exact right children came to me at the exact right time.”
Interestingly enough, the idea to adopt little Laila, three years ago, came from an unexpected but beautifully poetic and apporpriate source.
“Louis spearheaded the whole journey.”
Bullock, who has a sister of her own, wanted her son to have a sibling, someone to talk to and complain about their mother together. Those of you with siblings know how important this ritual can be.
Today, Bullock says Louis and Laila have an inseparable bond; but in the beginning stages of her adoption, the transition required patience and plenty of reassurance.
“I knew she was scared, and all I wanted was for her to know Louis and I weren’t going anywhere.”
Bullock said that little Laila has brought pink and glitter in the house mixed with Legos and Batmans.”
Bullock described her family of three saying, “My family is blended and diverse, nutty, and loving and understanding. That’s a family.”
For a long time, for right or wrong, people believed interracial adoption was a celebrity fad. Of course, I could never speak to their intentions. Though I hoped and prayed that these celebrities were raising these children of color to be prepared for the world in which we currently live. What I do know though is that adoption can be such a beautiful thing when done right. And from what I’ve seen of Sandra and Louis, she seems to be very aware of the realities of raising Black children and doing it with love.
Check out this precious video of what he did for her on Mother’s Day.
Parents and children find their way to one another in various ways, whether it be biological or through adoption they come together to create a unique family composition all their own.
These talented celebrity moms not only hold down amazing careers, sharing their gifts with the world but they’ve also become mothers via adoption.
Emmy-winning actress Viola Davis and her husband actor Julian Tennon adopted their daughter Genesis as a baby in 2011. You’ll recall that the beautiful young girl recently decided to dress up as her mommy during her 2015 Oscar win for Halloween. Photo: Viola with Genesis.
Screenwriting living legend Shonda Rhimes has two adopted daughters — Harper and Emerson. She had her third child via a gestational-surrogate in 2013.
Sweet potato pie maven and phenomenal songbird Patti LaBelle has five children, however two of her children, Stanley and Dodd were adopted after Patti’s sister, their biological mom, passed away. Photo: Patti Labelle and her son Zuri.
Hollywood heavyweight actress Alfre Woodard and her husband, writer Roderick Spenser adopted their daughter Mavis and their son Duncan. Photo: Alfre with daughter Mavis.
Comedic actress Kym Whitley adopted her son Joshua Kaleb in 2011.
November is National Adoption Month and in honor of families with adopted children we’d like to suggest the following books that you can read with your adopted child on the subject of adoption.
This is the story of loving African-American family living in the city and Abby and how she and her family adjust to her adoption and her unique bond with her brother Kevin which doesn’t start off so well initially.
Six small stories that illustrated several different ways that children join families, including by adoption.
This is the story of Samantha’s adoption told from a child’s perspective.
Newly launched media company The Front has debuted its series New Deep South which will explore how millennials navigate their sexual identity in the 21st century American South. To expose how complex romantic relationships can be below the Mason-Dixon, The Front followed Toni and Keeta, an interracial lesbian couple living in Jackson, Mississippi.
Like most modern couples, they initially met on Instagram when Toni sent Keeta a flirtatious DM. After trading messages, the two decided to physically meet one another at a local club. They’ve been exclusive since meeting each other and have been together for a total of seven months; the pair is now engaged and living together. Keeta works as a cashier and Toni serves as a Mississippi police officer who has lived on her own since she was 15 when her family kicked her out because she didn’t adhere to their religious lifestyle. After their engagement, the couple decided to expand their family; however in the state of Mississippi same-sex couples can’t adopt children through any agency.
Toni’s pregnant friend had a solution: she asked Toni if she and her fiancée would be interested in adopting her baby since the baby’s father didn’t want to raise another child. The couple said yes, but the friend eventually backed out and they had to find another means of becoming parents. That’s when the pair began receiving pitches on Facebook and Instagram from prospective birth parents who were willing to give up or conceive a child for Toni and Keeta’s family to be complete.
As Toni and Ketta prepare for their plus-one, various mishaps occur to rock their faith and the soon-to-be mothers become more aware of how unsafe Jackson is becoming. At the time of filming Instababy, there were daily homicides in the city and on one occasion Ketta was chased home by a strange man. Despite this, their journey depicts how marginalized people find alternatives to attain their natural birthrights by any means possible.
Watch how their story unfolds below.
Thanks to Lifetime, many of us have been privy to see how adopted children fictionally heal from their abandonment issues. Usually in these made-for-television films, adopted children magically reunite with their birth parents, gain a new set of siblings and live happily ever after, if they’re lucky. In the real world, an adopted child’s luck may not stretch as far.
Last week, Maggie Geimer wrote a poignant piece for XOJane about her birth mother who didn’t want to meet her. Before readers got into the details about her birth mother’s sting of rejection, Geimer allowed them to enter her world where her supportive adoptive parents gave her nothing but honesty, love and care. They told her she was not their biological child since she was a toddler through fairy tales: “Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who wanted a baby more than anything. They were very sad that they didn’t have a baby so they went to a magical place called an adoption agency, where there was a little princess. The princess came home with the king and queen and they lived happily ever after. And do you know what? That little princess is you!”
As Geimer transitioned into her teenage years, angst began to fill her once she felt she was not entirely understood by her parents. Like most teens who believe those outside their immediate family understand them better, Geimer began to fantasize about life with her biological mother and how it may be better than with her adoptive parents. She revealed in her piece, “I knew her extremely common name, the fact she was short like me and that she was talkative, also like me. An overactive imagination took over from there and created the perfect parent.” As Geimer became older, she shifted her focus on entering college and new relationships, though thoughts of meeting her birth mother mounted.
Since Geimer had a closed adoption, she had to wait until she was 21 to receive her original birth certificate. When she did receive it, she immediately tried all channels to search for her birth mother, eventually finding her on Facebook. She decided to send her a message and also found a counselor from her adoption agency to help her with the process. Unfortunately, Geimer’s search was cut short with a letter her birth mother sent the adoption agency, detailing her medical history and a note explaining she would not like to be contacted by Geimer. The news broke Geimer’s heart but also freed her from feeling guilty about searching for her mother— a turmoil most adoptive children face because they feel like they have to choose between their biological and adoptive families.
Although Geimer received her own epiphanies about her birth mother, as a reader I was stunned and deeply disappointed. Geimer’s mother’s personal issues became the deciding factor in why she didn’t want to connect with her daughter, though a fraction of me feels it’s a sad excuse. I understand the decision to have a closed adoption but I also believe adoptive children are owed the opportunity to meet their birth parents and extended family and the opportunity it offers to feel “whole,” especially when many feel like an outsider within their adoptive families. I have two cousins who were adopted and behaved irrationally prior to being introduced to their birth families. I am sure if they never received the opportunity to create those bonds with them, their lives and even mental health would have taken a turn for the worse.
Although each family’s story is different and birth parents are not fully responsible for their children’s emotions as they navigate life, should they be mandated to at least met with them when they’re adults?
Rosie O’Donnell has been in the news a lot lately and this time it doesn’t have anything to do with The View or her ongoing feud with Donald Trump. It’s her relationship or lack thereof with her adopted daughter Chelsea that has been making headlines again. It was only a few months ago that O’Donnell reported the teen missing, and suffering from mental health issues. Not long after, Chelsea was found at the Jersey home of a 25-year-old man who happens to have a drug-related past. Though she was eventually taken back to O’Donnell’s, now that she’s 18-years-old, and legally able to live where she wants, that’s exactly what she’s done. Chelsea is back with her ‘boyfriend’ after a short stint with her biological mom, who now claims that the adoption all those years ago, was illegal. It’s messy.
In a clip for an interview airing tonight on Inside Edition, Chelsea explains that she doesn’t love Rosie, nor does she think they will ever be a family again. Ouch. How ungrateful.
I start getting leery about adoption when I see kids turning into monsters towards those who unselfishly give them a home. I picture Chelsea being given everything, and this is how she repays Rosie. By going on TV talking about how she doesn’t even love her. Why? Because you say she kicked you out? Did it have anything to do with you hanging out with a 25-year-old man? Hmph.
But as soon as I put kids and monsters together my thoughts automatically jump to Woody Allen. Not exactly the poster child for a great adoptive parent. And let’s not forget the unforgettable film, Mommy Dearest, about the mental abuse inflicted upon the adopted daughter of famous actress Joan Crawford. It was sadly eye-opening in showing the abuses that some adopted kids endure.
Was I judging too fast?
I start thinking about my younger cousin Shai who was adopted into the family as a baby and is so well-integrated that she often forgets that she’s adopted. But she too had her issues when she was a teen. I remember a conversation we had where she said, “Some days I would be telling my mom how much I loved her and the next I was screaming, ‘I don’t have to listen to you, you’re not my real mom!’” She says that she was angry and acting out because she felt misunderstood, and often wondered if she was more like her birth family. Now 23-years-old, things changed a few years ago when her adopted mother helped her find out about her biological family. Now she knows where her birth mother lives, that her grandmother passed, and that she’s a middle child. Though a part of her is still salty that she was the only one her mother gave up for adoption, she’s comforted by the fact that she now has a sense of where she came from. Today, she’s at peace and grateful to be with a family that loves her. It worked out.
Man, when it comes down to it, the relationship between adoptive parents and their kids isn’t much different than biological families. We all have our issues. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s just that biological families don’t get judged the same because they are blood. Some parents and kids don’t speak for years, and in worst case scenarios, they kill each other. When you look at it this way, Rosie O’Donnell and Chelsea aren’t doing so bad. I’m going to be optimistic and bet that in time they’ll be able to work this out.
To see Chelsea’s interview on Inside Edition tonight, check your local listings.
Erickka Sy Savané is a freelance writer and creator of THE BREW, a left-leaning social commentary blog. Check out her daily column, Pop Mom Daily, right here on Madamenoire. Before Erickka began writing she was a model/actress/MTV VJ. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Jersey City. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
“I want my son to be safe. I want my son to be judged for the man he is,” says Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock in a cover story for the October 2015 issue of Glamour magazine. “If I could ride in a bubble with him for the rest of his life, I would. But I can’t,” she adds, talking about her adopted five-year-old son Louis, in the context of raising a Black boy in America.
I pause. As a Black woman with two daughters, ages three and five, I want the same things and share the same fears. I hope that they will be afforded the same opportunities as everyone else and not put in a box because of the color of their skin. I want them to be safe too, and yet I’m constantly reminded that they are not. Perfect example: The white guy who posted a selfie on Facebook with his co-worker’s black kid. It set off a barrage of racist comments from his white friends. The kid is only three-years-old.
It’s unexpected, this moment of connection and reflection that I feel towards Bullock because, frankly, my relationship with white women has always been a bit weird. It started in elementary school when I found myself having to explain Blackness. “What happens when your hair gets wet?” asked classmate Anna while taking a swim. Surely, she was just curious, but as the only Black girl in my class, I didn’t like always having to explain Blackness. I just wanted to swim like everyone else. Before long, I found that being around Black people was just easier and my relationships with white women never advanced beyond the 4th grade, which is probably the case with Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus, and Black and white women in general.
We just don’t talk.
As a result, we don’t get to know each other, which feeds a vicious cycle of you-stay-in-your-corner-and-I’ll-stay-in-mine. Which in turn, keeps us from talking, which again, keeps us apart. You get my drift.
Six years ago I became a mom and that changed things because I find myself connecting with women on that basis. If a mom in my area has kids the same age as mine, we connect. Color suddenly becomes less important when our kids need activities and we moms need resources to make navigating motherhood easier. Funny enough, white women are solidly in my network now, sharing information, providing loads of activities and lending a helping hand. Regardless of the white and Black thing, there is a mommy community to which I belong, along with Asians, Hispanics and even an African mom. West Side Momfia, as they are known.
It’s not always perfect. Sometimes when speaking to one another something can be said in regard to race that’s ass backwards, and I find myself having to explain. But because we’re talking, things get clarified, and we get a chance to move on in the name of what links us. Our kids.
I am officially on the countdown until my next milestone birthday. Recently I’ve been accessing my personal, professional, spiritual and fitness achievements and goals. This year, I’ll be celebrating not only a decade as an entrepreneur, but I have signed up to run the ING NYC Marathon as well. I’m so excited about everything that 2014 is promising me through my faith works. Everything that I am trying to accomplish in life all seems feasible as long as I am willing to put in the work.
But there’s still one thing that weighs on my mind.
In the past I thought I wanted to be married by the time I was 25; now I laugh at that idea. In my 30’s I started a PR agency, became a distance runner, travelled to Africa and Europe and became a literary agent, among other memorable experiences. As a professional woman with no kids, it would seem there are numerous things that I can accomplish independently if I truly desire…except motherhood. Or can I?
Inspired by Hollywood moms like Sandra Bullock, Shonda Rimes, Viola Davis and Jillian Michaels, among others, I have entertained adoption as my means to motherhood. I’m a woman who would love to be a mother, but the “traditional” avenue seems to elude me.
Yes, when I look at my baby photos I would love to have a biological mini-me. I get all sappy when I see my girlfriends and colleagues post photos of their little girls, who look just like them. It fascinates me to see the genes carry over so strongly. There is no doubt, my daughter would have a head full of hair, slanted eyes, cute little bootie, and a winning smile.
Alas, finding a partner who has the same desire for family, as well as respects and appreciates the commitment it takes to achieve that, has proven to be challenging. I focus on what I can control and not on the things I cannot. Simply put, there are a lot of children who would benefit greatly from my love and if it looks like having one biologically isn’t going to happen then I’m really leaning towards the reality that I can have a child legally.
Some of the statistics on children and adoption are alarming. According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption institute (CCAI) 400,540 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system, and of that number, 115, 000 children are eligible for adoption.
After speaking with someone who has adopted several children, I know that there’s a great deal of preparation on my end if I want to make this a reality in the next few years. My to-do list would include: increasing my income and tightening up my financial affairs, getting a bigger home, discussing this with my family and friends and doing more research.
Through some of my initial research I’ve found that in 2012, there were nearly 500 adoptions in the state of New York alone. Those of us who are fans of “Sex and the City” saw the lengths that Charlotte and Harry went through in the adoption process to get Lily. Adopting a baby is like a business transaction in some ways, just a more intimate form of a business transaction. You have to have your financials in order; you have to get recommendation letters and prove that you are qualified for adoption and then wait it all out. I may not have the dating and relationship thing mastered, but I do know how to negotiate, sell myself and Lord knows being a literary agent has taught the art of being patient after the pitch. Indeed a life is involved but obtaining a baby requires your heart and affairs to be in order. At this point, my heart wants a baby therefore I am getting my affairs in order.
I know the risks women over 40 may experience during pregnancy, but I do have a couple of girlfriends my age who are currently with child. No one can foresee having an easy or difficult pregnancy, but with adoption those physical traumas won’t be a factor…and I get to keep my flat stomach that my fitness lifestyle has awarded me. Is that so bad?
I love children and I know that it would be great to give a home and a family to a child who for one reason or another is up for adoption. I’m not saying that I am closed off to getting pregnant at this stage of life, but I am saying that I’ve wrapped my mind around having a baby this way.
Have you adopted a child? Are you considering adoption? Tell us about your story.