A special note from Cheryl: My mother passed away this week. And so this post is especially poignant to me because she strongly believed that every child deserved a home. I dedicate this post to her and all the joy she brought into the lives of others. RIP mommy.
Eleanor Pearson 12/8/40 – 5/2/2018
I’ve had so many conversations lately with women over 35 who are dealing with fertility issues and the quest for family. With fertility treatments at over $20,000 per cycle, with no guarantee of success, this path can be full of heartbreak, stress, and pain.
Yes, having a baby is a gift. But another gift? Providing a loving home for a child already out there in the world who is in desperate need of someone just like you to love them. They call it adoption.
I know this is a very difficult topic for some women. You truly want to get that positive pregnancy test, carry your child to term, and have your own child. You want to look into the face of a child of your genes, and see if he or she has your eyes or chin. There is nothing that can replicate that “he looks just like me” feeling. BUT the pure unconditional love and the doting and the “don’t make me come back there” moments are possible, whether the child came from your loins or not. That much I know for sure.
How do I know? Because my mom managed to love 10 children unconditionally, but she only actually birthed three of us. If you tried to tell her she loves one child over the next, step back ‘cause she just might womp you upside the head!
Listen, in our African American community specifically, we are less prone to adopt. It’s a sad statement, but true. Reasons vary and can stem from our misguided beliefs.
- Cultural: Black families take care of our own. Adopting is for white folks.
- Systemic: Fostering to adopt doesn’t guarantee I’ll get to keep the child. Why risk heartache and time?
- Financial: Private domestic adoption rates range from $7,000− $30,000. Who’s got that kinda money laying around?
This is not the time to get hung up on costs. When you set your sights on a desire of the heart, you move heaven and earth to find a way to bring it into your life. You and I both know that’s true. (I’ve seen you stalk that pair of Gucci shoes until they were within your budget!) What’s most likely holding you back isn’t financial. More likely it’s the fear.
The fear of being a single mom. The fear of going through yet another process by yourself. The fear of what if something goes wrong and you get your heart broken. The fear. The fear. The fear. But like the magnet on my refrigerator at home says, “Everything you say you want is on the other side of fear.”
Yep, there are for sure some hurdles you are going to have to jump over to make this happen. Let’s not be naïve. Back in the day, you could practically walk into an agency or an orphanage and walk out with a kid (Hello, “Annie”). But now there is so much red tape, and as noted above, the cost is high and it can take years to get a child. Adoption is no joke! I’m not trying to sugar coat the process for you.
For almost 2 ½ years now, I’ve watched my youngest sister and her husband work their way through the tedious process of going from being foster parents to adoptive parents. And yes, the PROCESS sucks! But we all know the process is worth the REWARD every time she sends me a photo of her almost-adopted-but-we’re-still-weeding-through-the-red-tape twins dressed up for their school function, and you can see the excitement of a new adventure in their dancing little eyes. Or whenever she shares a “and then they did this” moment. Or whenever we get together for a family celebration and the twins give Uncle Al a high five so hard it causes them to burst into unstoppable fits of giggles.
I believe the rewards outweighed the process when I hear my 50+ year old sister (I ain’t trying to get a beat down because I shared her age with y’all) get all emotional when we were reflecting one day about how she entered our lives through the foster care system at the age of nine and she says through tears, “I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like without this family. I don’t even want to imagine it.”
Families are complex. Families are dysfunctional. Families can work your last nerve. But what a BLESSING to have complex, dysfunctional nerve-working people that you can call family. Crazy as it might seem, it can be a blessing to be able to gift someone whose life might be absent of such dysfunction! Because there is usually a ton of love that masks it all and holds it all together. When you open your home to others, you are also opening your heart to equal parts of reward.
The flip side of my sister’s “where would I be without this family” coin is: where would our family be without HER!? We received as much of a gift as she did. That is the case for every child my mom brought into our lives through adoption and the foster care programs across two states.
To learn more about foster parenting, research local foster care organizations and attend an introductory meeting where they’ll offer requirements for fostering like how much square footage is needed in a home and the number of adults allowed. Also review registries of private adoption organizations statewide; each state has its own regulations. You may find one state better suited to your needs and situation than another. Visit Childwelfare.gov to get started!
I am all about creating the life we say we want to live. If you WANT children, you can HAVE children. Whether you are married or not. It’s not your financials that are holding you back. Chances are, it’s your mindset. Change your mind, change your life. Now go get that family that is out there waiting for you. Your gift is waiting for you.