All Articles Tagged "Adoption"
“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.
TLC’s T-Boz may be preparing for motherhood for the second time around after 14 years. And it’s been reported that the 45-year-old chanteuse is going the adoption route this time.
According to legal docs obtained by TMZ, the news of the TLC member’s adoption was accidentally brought up during a conversation with a lawyer regarding a $40 million lawsuit over the TLC movie.
During the conversation, T-Boz was asked if she had any communication with group member Chili about the lawsuit. T-Boz’s reply was to the affect that the only communication the two had shared was the news about her adoption.
Back in 2012, T-Boz shared her interest in adopting a child from Haiti to Larry King.
Although she hasn’t spoken out on the reports or released a statement, just last week she posted a photo of her 14-year-old daughter, Chase, with a sentimental caption:
“It’s hard 2 believe this lil munchkin will be 15 yes old soon. But I still see my sweet lil baby with those cute lil pouty lips lol @chaserolison #WhenAMotherRealizesHerBabyIsGrowingUp.”
Sounds like our girl T-Boz definitely has baby fever!
If the thought of big family dinners, lots of noise in your house, and a constant influx of hugs and kisses excites you, you may want to consider taking in a foster child or foster children. There are government statistics that indicate that over 500,000 children in the United States spend part or all of the year in substitute care and not with their birth families. Whether you are adding to your family or just starting one, if you can provide a loving and safe home, then there are many foster kids of all ages who could benefit from that.
There are many things to consider like if a child has a sibling, are you willing to take them in too? Because separating them could be traumatic given their current circumstances. And don’t forget to take into consideration how hard it may be for them to go from foster home to foster home so if you are the kind of person that changes your mind on the drop of a dime this may not be for you.
And if patience is not your strong suit you may want to wait until it is, only because it may take a long time for them to be comfortable with you or even want to have conversations with you. Someone who can respond with an understanding and patient tone is what they need the most.
Do you already have kids of your own? If so, find out if they will be comfortable with adding to the family. You could also show your kids a video online about why foster kids need good homes.
According to the North American Council On Adoptable Children here are some ways to see if you are ready or if you need to think it over.
I care about children and want to share my good fortune.
I am kind and loving but can be firm when it’s required.
Foster children have had it tough. I want to make their life a little easier and more fun.
I didn’t have children. By being a foster parent I can share my home and give my time and attention to a worthwhile cause.
I did a good job as a parent and know how to work with children. I’d like to use my skills to help other children
THINK IT OVER
I am depressed and think I could feel better if I had a child to fuss over.
I just love children and don’t feel they should ever be disciplined, scolded or punished.
These children have been abused and neglected – I want to protect them from their birth family members.
I don’t have children, and I feel that having a foster child will fill a lonely void in my life.
I don’t know much about children, but I believe that if you just love them enough everything will be okay.
These poor children have been mistreated and I want to protect them or even adopt them so their family never hurts them again.
Adopting a child is a tremendous act of generosity, kindness, and love. But just because you’re capable of being generous, kind and loving, that doesn’t mean adoption is necessarily right for you. Ask yourself these questions first to find out.
You would think that a woman with three hit shows on television and other projects in the works would be a huge risk-taker. But two years ago, that’s not how Shonda Rhimes’ sister Delorse described her. In fact, around Christmas time in 2013, she scolded her sister for turning down too many opportunities.
No one can check you like your sister. Shonda took heed. She told the Darmouth Alumni Magazine, “So my New Year’s resolution was to say yes to the things that scare me.” Those things included a commencement speech for her alma mater, Darmouth’s 2014 class, a TED talk this past March and appearance on Mindy Kaling’s show, “The Mindy Project.”
Rhimes was a fan before she had been extended the offer.
“I watch that religiously, because it’s just funny.”
Kaling asked her to play Darmouth’s alumni beer pong champ on the show and Rhimes agreed…only because it fell within the year of yeses.
The alumni magazine writes that: “When it came time to deliver her lines, however, she was “suddenly paralyzed.” For the first time, she says, “I was on the other side of the camera and realized I had no clue what I was doing. (Nonsense, Kaling insists. “She has the best timing. I would have her on every week if I could.”)
Rhimes was also given the opportunity to write a memoir for Simon & Schuster. And with the dare in mind, she agreed.
“I had no choice- what else could I say but yes?” The book will detail the lessons she learned during her Year of Yes but will also, according to DAM, focus on single motherhood.
“Going through the adoption process with Harper and Emerson, and having Beckett with the help of a surrogate, Rhimes is asked often how to navigate the nontraditional route of parenthood. “I’ve basically been shepherding all these women I know on how you become a single mother,” she says. “So much so that somebody gave me business cards that say ‘Adoption Doula.’ I thought that was really cute.”
We’ll definitely be checking this one out.
I have no idea what it’s like to be adopted, but I always imagined that adopted children and even some adults spend quite a bit of time looking into the faces of complete strangers, wondering if they’re their long lost parents. Your father could be someone you pass on the street everyday. Your mother could be the woman who works in your building.
Though the notion of such a thing seems highly unlikely, that’s exactly what happened to La-Sonya Mitchell-Clark, 38, of Youngstown, Ohio.
Mitchell-Clark told WKBN, an Ohio CBS affiliate, from the day she learned she was adopted, she wanted to find her biological mother.
That dream became a reality last month when the Ohio Department of Health released birth records for people born between January 1964 and September 1996. Mitchell-Clark’s record included the name of her birth mother, Francine Simmons.
Mitchell-Clark looked the woman up on Facebook and discovered that she worked at Infocision in Boardman, Ohio, the same company and inside the same building where Mitchell-Clark is currently employed.
That’s when Mitchell-Clark realized that she knew of a Francine at her job. The woman worked in another department, at the front desk.
Mitchell-Clark reached out to a few of her other friends on social media for help. Then the next day, she got a phone call from her birth mother.
“She called me and I said, ‘Is this Ms. Francine? She said yes. I said, ‘I think I’m your daughter.'”
The two women burst into tears.
Francine Simmons said that she’s still in shock. Like Mitchell-Clark, she too has wanted to reconnect but didn’t know how to go about it.
She explained, “I got pregnant when I was 14. I had her when I was 15. I was put in a home, a girl’s home. Had her. Got to hold her. Didn’t get to name her, but I named her myself in my heart all these years.”
When she found her mother, Mitchell-Clark also found three other sisters, one who works at Infocision with her mother and newfound sister.
Kamala Cummings, the sister, said through tears, “I feel a sense of relief for my mother.”
Her other sister, Maisaha Cummings said, “It’s just amazing that all this time we’re thinking about her and trying to find her and she was trying to find us too.”
Not only do the mother and daughter pair work in the same office, they live six minutes away from one another.
Mitchell-Clark says her adoptive parents have always been supportive of her searching for her birth mother. She said that they’re going to be a part of the new relationship with Simmons.
Simmons agrees, “Now, we’ve got a bigger extended family where we can just be together.”
You can watch the two women discuss their reunion in the video below.
— Connie Going (@GoingConnie) April 11, 2015
Davion Only captured the nation and the world’s attention two years ago when he, at 15-years-old, stood up in front of a Florida church and pleaded with the congregation to adopt him. Not only did he touch our hearts with his very real and relatable desire to be loved, his honesty shed a light into what the adoption and foster care system is like for Black children, particularly Black boys.
After Davion spoke at church, calls from people down the street to around the world came pouring in, expressing interest in adopting Only. And according to the Tampa Bay Times, last Spring he was sent to live with a family in Ohio, a minister, his wife and three children, who said they wanted to make Davion a part of their family.
Davion’s wish was finally granted. He had the family he’d always wanted. But things changed when Davion got into a fight with one of the minister’s other children. After just three months, the family changed their minds and sent Davion right back into the system he’d been trying to escape his whole life.
Naturally, when he came back to Florida he was changed. He didn’t want to speak to anyone, not his counselors at the agency, the kids from his group home, not the teachers at his new high school, or the foster parents who took him in. Davion knew they had no plans to keep him permanently.
Instead of talking, he mostly played Madden football on the PlayStation.
At 16, he thought his chances of being adopted were over.
A few months later though, in July, having lived in four different homes and attended four different high schools in a year’s time, he was ready to talk.
He called the only number he had memorized, the only woman who had been a constant presence in his life, his caseworker Connie Going.
Going had wanted to talk to Davion when she heard that he’d been sent back to Florida. Instead of Davion, it was reporters who wanted to talk to her. They had all types of questions for Going, mainly “What went wrong?”
Going wanted to tell them, “That boy spent his whole life in the system, that’s what went wrong.”
Going, who had been Davion’s caseworker since he was seven years old, felt like she had let him down in not being able to find him a home. Going told the Times that there were many occasions when she wanted to call Davion. But she didn’t want to make him feel like he had to explain anything.
When she received his call in July, she was at the hospital with her dying father.
When Connie first met Davion, he was shy and always wanted to hug her. She’d take him out for pizza, pancakes and hot dogs. The two went bowling and to the beach together. She found Davion a mentor and followed him through each of the foster homes and therapy sessions.
Every year, for the past ten years, Davion asked her at least once, “Why don’t you just adopt me, Miss Connie?”
Going told Davion that she thought he deserved more. She told him he needed a father. Since she’d met Davion, Going’s daughters were teenagers, her marriage had ended, she’d helped more than 1,000 kids get adopted and she’d adopted one of them herself, 10-year-old Taylor, Davion’s friend from the group home, who had suffered two failed matches.
Going allowed Davion to stay at her home on weekends but she felt with her teenaged daughters and Taylor her house was too small. She kept promising Davion that she would find him his own family.
When Davion left for Ohio, Connie helped him pack a bag and prayed for him every night. When she learned that he was sent back to Florida, she worried that he would think he had no one in this world.
So, when she spoke to him in July, Davion brought up the subject of adoption again. “Do you remember what I asked you before? I mean about…Well, how do you feel about adopting me now?”
This time Connie didn’t hesitate. She was no longer his caseworker and was waiting for Davion to ask her again. She’d talked to her children and they all agreed.
Once she agreed, Davion couldn’t believe it. He kept asking her if she was sure and did she mean it. Then he asked, when?
In December, Connie called an adoption agency, hired a lawyer and rented a new house with four bedrooms and a pool. When she passed a home study, Davion was allowed to move in for good. He brought a garbage bag full of T-shirts, a backpack stuffed with video games and the Bible the group home had given him.
Connie gave him the big bedroom and helped him paint the walls and hang anime posters above the dresser.
Just before Christmas, Davion told her, “I guess I always thought of you as my mom. Only now I get to call you that for real, right?”
In February, both Davion and Connie celebrated their birthdays, which just so happen to be the same day. Connie took Davion to get his permit and he took her to get a pedicure. Later that night, Connie and Davion signed the court papers.
On April 22, the adoption will be official.
Since he’s been living with Connie, things haven’t exactly been peaches and cream. The house is a lot louder with Davion around and Going says Davion tests her patience. All of the children squabble with each other, furniture gets overturned. Twice a week a family therapist comes to the house and meets with the family as a group and then all of the members individually.
But Connie is taking all of it in stride.
“I’m okay with messy and difficult. You just have to have your armor on all the time, but it’s more than worth it. And every day things get a little bit better.”
Going describes Davion as astoundingly compassionate. She says he’s always concerned about the other members of the house, even the dogs, and goes around asking if everyone is okay.
This semester, instead of enrolling in yet another high school, Davion is taking classes online and has earned a 3.1 GPA. In the fall, he hopes to get a job, start boxing and go back to traditional school.
Going says things can become a bit overwhelming for Davion at times and he just has to scream for what seems like no reason. Other times, he’ll lock himself in his room, draw the blinds and play video games.
Usually, after everyone has gone to bed, he unlocks the door and lets Going in. Most of the time she doesn’t say anything. She just sits on top of Davion’s covers and listens to him talk, talk and talk.
You can watch both Connie and Davion tell a bit of their story in the video below.
Photo credit: Brian Kelly
mater mea is an online magazine that profiles the lives of working moms of colors through gorgeous photography and compelling features. Candace Matthews, the chief marketing officer at Amway, found out after getting married at 40 that she would not be able to have children. Matthews and her husband chose to adopt three great children of their own. Here she shares how she feels about her kids.
Your daughters were deemed “failure to thrive” when you first adopted them. How does it feel to go from holding them with that diagnosis in mind, to them now being accomplished young women in the 9th grade?
It’s amazing to have watched their progress. It really shows that nurture and nature both play a role, especially when you adopt children. You have to understand where nurturing can take you, and also, what is part of the nature part that you’ll either have to compensate for or help them through. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart, but it is such a joy when you see something happen and you get to say, “Oh my gosh, they’re blossoming.”
Take Simone, for instance. Simone is phenomenal piano player. Both girls play the piano, and Sydney also plays the violin. Simone and I have this running joke because I play as well – “When you play better than me is when we’re in trouble.” Simone is now at the point where she plays better than me. Last November at her sonatina festival she played a six-page piece entirely from memory. So when you see something like that happen, you realize how far they’ve come and the accomplishments they’ve achieved. Even though in Simone’s mind, she doesn’t see it, she doesn’t get it. Yet I can see it. And that brings Bruce and I tremendous satisfaction and pride.
What kind of people do you hope your kids grow up to be?
They don’t have to be me. What I want is for them to grow up to be secure in who they are, and doing something that makes a difference in people’s lives. I want them to get passionate about something. That’s one of the things that I’ve noticed with their lack of early childhood development, and with children who are in foster homes early on – there’s a bit of a detachment. The girls don’t have that as much, but what I do notice is that they need to develop a passion. Whatever it is they choose to do, we will support them, but I want to see their passion for something ignited. That’s what I really wish for them.
Read Candace’s full story on mater mea.
These stars who kids up for adoption have various reasons mainly centered around them being too young to take care of the child. The good news is that most of them reunited with their children many years later.
15 Stars Who Gave Kids Up For Adoption