Adoption is such a foreign word for many African Americans. Historically, we value blood ties. Kinship adoptions are what we do. Our mother raises our sister's kids. Our aunt raises our cousin's kids. A sister takes in a niece. It’s been that way in the African American community for a very long time.
Historically, in the Black community we would seldom entertain the thought of making an adoption plan, at least outside the family. Instead we would have our baby and raise the child the best way we could and with the help of family members.
Today, more young women of color are making adoption decisions. They have come to realize that they have options outside of terminating the pregnancy or parenting when they are not mentally, emotionally and/or financially capable. We are beginning to see a shift in the mindsets of many pregnant African American women. They may be embracing their own goals and aspirations, or decide that they are not in a position to take care of a first, second or third child.
However, for some African Americans who may wish to become parents but are struggling, our many years of valuing blood ties and kinship adoption is still very much alive. That culture can mean that we find adopting a child outside of the family hard to embrace. I can remember these words vividly: “there must be something wrong with the child” or “the birth parents can take him back.” How much we buy in to these myths, reinforced by a culture of historically adopting only blood relatives, will determine whether or not we even consider non-kinship adoption.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can sure speak to the fact that letting go of the myths and allowing myself to value adoption outside of the family has added a most powerful blessing to my life. He is my son. I have known him for eight years now. I am hopeful that he will grow up in a new culture. A culture that supports the right of every child to have a family and to be loved. My wish for him is that this new culture will always be a part of his life.
“Though my blood does not run through his veins…he is every bit my child”