We’re a family by transracial adoption, and we’re often presented as the transracial adoption norm. My husband and I are white, and our four kids are black. As a multiracial family which was obviously built by adoption, my husband and I are often told we are such “good people” who “gave a loving home to children in need.” There’s a popular misconception that we are white saviors and our kids are charity cases, none of which is accurate. This sets up an unhealthy dynamic, that adoptees of color should be grateful for being rescued by white superhero parents.
We’ve been part of the adoption community for over a decade, and we’ve had the opportunity to interact with some incredible families along the way. Some of these families are like ours, transracial, with black parents adopting white children. Like us, their families are multiracial and our foundation is love and dedication to our children. Though they have all faced a myriad of challenges, many of them based on racial differences and culture, they are overwhelmingly supportive of meeting a need and building their families.
The Jones-Baldwin Family
Keia Jones-Baldwin’s family became a viral sensation last year when they posted an adoption announcement video, one that landed them on Kelly Clarkson’s talk show. Keia is a therapist, her husband Richardro is a police officer, and they have four children. Their youngest, Princeton Jones-Baldwin, is white. The family shares their foster care, guardianship, adoption, and race on their platform Raising Cultures.
Jones-Baldwin told Scary Mommy that they’ve faced their fair share of obstacles. They’ve been stopped in stores and even had the cops called on them, being accused of kidnapping Princeton. They’ve faced rude questions like, “Why didn’t you adopt a black child?” or, “Why would you not allow him to live a better life with white parents?” Her clapback is perfect. She is unashamed of her multiracial family and professes that “love in colorful,” the theme of her social media platforms. She firmly believes that “differences should be celebrated and appreciated.”
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The Mutabazi Family
Peter Mutabazi is a black, single, foster and adoptive dad. He has adopted his 13-year-old white son, and he’s currently fostering a seven-year-old white boy. Mutabazi left his family home when he was young, spent some time living on the streets, and eventually befriended a couple who took him under their wings. They helped him get an education, their kindness completely changing the course of his life. Mutabazi told Scary Mommy he always knew he wanted to pay the kindness that was shown to him forward, eventually becoming a foster parent.
Sometimes he encounters people asking why he didn’t stick with fostering black and brown kids. His response is that these individuals don’t see the full picture, noting, “I became a foster parent to be there for all children. [. . .] I didn’t consider color. I only considered the child.” He added, “Abuse or neglect does not see the color of the child. Kids are vulnerable and need our love and safe homes.” When he notices resistance to his multiracial family, his response is simple, yet powerful. “I choose to show love, so others will see love.”
The Wilder Family
Jeena Wilder has no shame in her family game. Jeena is black, her husband is white, and they have four children, three of whom are biological and biracial and one of whom is white and was adopted. The child came to them through kinship adoption and is the couple’s niece-now-daughter.
Like the Jones-Baldwin family, the Wilders have had their fair share of challenges. Wilder told Scary Mommy that people are curious and even worried when they see an African American mom with a white child. They sometimes assume she’s the nanny. She shared, “The worst part is when they start to question why I’m with my daughter in front of her.” She’s also had fellow black people question why she didn’t adopt a black child instead of a white child. She believes, “In the end, adoption shouldn’t be about righting some wrong or looking like saviors. It should be about giving a child a loving home.”
The Farmer Family
Barry Farmer grew up in foster care himself, living under the care of a relative (kinship care). At the age of 22, he adopted his first son, a white boy, from foster care. Four years later, he adopted two more white sons from foster care. He told Scary Mommy that when he completed his foster parent application, he was open to caring for a child of any race, though he never suspected they’d place him with a white child. However, he decided, “I couldn’t see myself turning away a child because they do not look like me.”
He’s adamant that adopting outside of one’s race is a big deal and it’s never okay to deprive a child of their cultural norms. He’s sought advice from his white friends for help for his sons’ haircare, skincare, and clothing, stepping outside of his comfort zone. In 2014, his family’s story went viral, and he faced a lot of criticism from the black community, catching him off guard. He was told he must hate his own blackness and that he didn’t care about people of his own race. Despite all the naysayers, Farmer said that he is proud of himself and his family, and despite all the highs and lows, he has chosen to stick by his sons.
The Taylor Family
Mik Taylor and her husband are black. They have four children — a biological daughter, two sons adopted through foster care, and they are currently fostering-to-adopt their fourth child. When preparing to adopt their white son, the Taylor family faced discriminatory delays compared to when they adopted their black son. Taylor told Scary Mommy, they had to jump through extra hoops including enduring more searches for a biological family member, unnecessary deadline extensions, and unfinished (but racially-biased implied) comments from officials who were supposed to have the child’s best interest in mind.
Taylor shared that being a multiracial family has helped attract attention in a way that opens doors to converse with others about the need for foster parents and the adoption process. They’ve been able to use their family’s obvious racial differences to open others’ eyes, spread awareness, and promote love and unity. Yes, some people have assumed she’s her white son’s babysitter, nanny, or stepmother. She’s even been viewed as a mammy. However, despite the challenges, she wants others to know that foster care and adoption is ultimately about meeting a need, a need to “help a child of any color” find a forever family.
In the United States, there are over 400,000 children in the foster care system, and over 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted. Each year 20,000 children age out of the system without being adopted into a family. There continues to be a desperate need for foster parents, those who will love and support children, working to help reunify them with their biological family and for families to adopt children who are legally free for adoption. As these five multiracial families can attest, there are absolute challenges when fostering and adopting transracially. However, there are joys, too. At the heart of each of these families is love that doesn’t allow racial differences to define what family can and cannot be.