African American Adoption

Recognizing the need to give expectant women of color a greater choice of adoptive families, in 1999 The Cradle launched The Ardythe and Gale Sayers Center for African American Adoption with a focus on adoptive parent recruitment in the African American community.

The Sayers Center, named after NFL Hall of Famer and Cradle adoptive dad, Gale Sayers, and his wife, Ardythe, is part of The Cradle’s domestic adoption program and is one of the only programs in the country that promotes adoption awareness specifically within the African American community.

The Sayers Center also provides cultural understanding and connectivity to transracial families who have adopted African American and Biracial children, in addition to transracial families who have adopted Black children internationally.

The goal of the Sayers Center Program is to educate the African American community about the process of adoption and to provide ongoing support and opportunities for connections to all families who have adopted African American and Biracial children.

To get started, we invite you to attend one of our free informational meetings near Chicago. Get started with The Cradle today.

Hear from clients of The Cradle's African American Adoption program.

Video Transcript

Lisa: "I had no prior knowledge of adoption and just did a quick google search of "adoption" and The Cradle was the first thing to pop up."
Stephanie: "I was very keenly set on being a mother, maternally and wanted to carry my own child, our own child... that I'd be into a couple who had adopted from The Cradle."

Sasha: "It was really the first name at the top of our list and then when we started talking to other friends and people who had been through the process, it was not a surprise to hear The Cradle's name-"

Lee: "Over and over, it popped up so much."

Sasha: "Yeah. It was a good fit but it was also because of The Sayers program. It was because there was specifically a focus on helping African American families to adopt but specifically helping African American babies to be placed."

Nijole: "The Cradle was founded in 1923, in 1944, they started The Center for African American Adoption and in 1999 we renamed it after Ardythe and Gale Sayers, who was a football player, hall-of-famer for Chicago Bears, so The Sayers Center has been around for about 15 years now.

"In the African American community, adoption is kind of formed. We value blood ties, so we value kinship adoption. Our mother will take our sister's child, our aunt will take our cousin's child. It's very rare that we go outside our families to adopt children. What I was able to find at The Cradle through their education ant the resources that they were able to provide was that adoption was indeed an option."

Mario: "In the African American community sometimes we don't talk about adoption much or don't know much about. Especially open adoption."

John: "I had no idea about adoption outside of what I saw in movies or just stories that I've heard of people who were adopted and never knew where they came from or who they were from." 

Lee: "I orginally kind of concieved of adoption as, you walk into a room- this is old school thought- you walk into a room, there were a bunch of kids running around, and you picked some out that you get to interview and think about taking home."

Stephanie: "In terms of The Cradle, they, I mean, it was fast and furious. A lot of classes, a lot of meeting many couples. Lisa: They sent out a representative that very next week and she sat down and spoke with me and kind of answered all my questions and introduced me to openness."

Nijole: "Openness is so key because as a birth mom who carried this child for nine months, I feel a sense of obligation to do right by that child, but I'd want her in my life so that she knows. So that every time she sees me she knows that her decision was a good decision."

John: "Once she told me that The Cradle was a open adoption option, I was like, okay, let's kind of look into that a little more and see what that is."

Sasha: "We underappreciated how much it is a process more than a discrete event. And I think that the classes we took here at The Cradle, the connections that we made with other families, that is what really became much clearer to me over time."

Nijole: "We offer classes, we have some wonderful counseling services that we provide. Our counselors are outstanding because we don't just place babies and say go on, have a great life. We are there for you."

Sasha: "When we to meet him, we had never been to the nursery, so they're just giving us a tour and someone joined the tour. A nurse is there, holding a baby watching us get this tour, and at some point we ask, 'is that him?' and they said, 'oh yeah, this is him!'"

Lee: "And then the entire organization just shows up."

Sasha: "Oh gosh, yeah they-"

Lee: "Here's this little baby, little boy, who's going home with us."

John: "The Cradle's awesome. I can't speak highly enough of The Cradle, of taking a very hard, difficult situation and being there to support, to guide, to help, you know-"

Lisa: "To cry with."

John: "Yeah"

Mario: "I just remember, it was a big celebration that day when we picked Blake up."

Stephanie: "Yeah"

Mario: "It was amazing. The Cradle has been amazing to us, if I could say amazing one more time I would."

Stephanie: "Yeah, because you've said it like 29 times"

Mario: "But that's how I feel, it's amazing."