‘He’s only a few days old, and white.’ He didn’t even weigh enough to leave. I did skin-to-skin for weeks.’: Woman battles infertility, fosters-to-adopt, ‘We don’t have to look alike to love alike’

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“Imagine going to holiday functions, and seeing all the smiling faces of your nieces and nephews, pregnant women in your family; all celebrating the birth of their ‘holiday’ babies. That was me during the holidays. I desired to be happy for others but feeling very bitter inside. I felt bitter, depressed, and somewhat jealous of women who could literally blink and have a baby without a second thought.

I started to dread attending holiday functions because I longed for a bigger family; fertility issues stopped my husband and me in our tracks to have the family we always dreamed of. My husband Richardo is 37, and he is a police officer. We met in 2006 while working at the same place. We were at a company bowling game and Richardo bowled his way right into my heart! When we met, I was a single mother of one beautiful 3-year-old little girl Zariyah!

After almost a year of dating and I felt pretty confident Richardo was in it for the long haul, I introduced him to Zariyah and they hit it off right away! I was so amazed by the way he treated her. It was so special. They never missed one daddy-daughter dance, tea party, softball game, recital, awards ceremony, or doctor’s appointment. Their bond was so sweet that I just could wait to have more children with this man!

We got married in 2010 and were eager to start our family. We were so excited to learn we were pregnant in August of 2010, and then completely disheartened with the tragic news of my miscarriage in November. However, this was only the beginning: we went on to suffer 7 additional miscarriages, each taking a piece of my broken heart with them. We were still hopeful– and tried to talk to a specialist about IVF. We were only further crushed after 2 failed attempts. I felt as if the carpet was pulled from underneath our feet. The family we once dreamed of was just a thought.

I was exhausted mentally and physically. For my own mental health, I had to take a break from trying to conceive. I was in a very dark place and felt as if my womb and body had failed me. How could I not give my husband a child? I was extremely depressed. I prayed to God to help me through this, and He answered!

Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin

One year after our last miscarriage, Zariyah was in the 6th grade and met Karleigh, a classmate who was going through a rough time. Karleigh came into our lives at exactly the right moment. She was only 11 years old and so innocent. She showed me that I could love another child that was not biologically mine the same way I loved Zariyah– and I needed that. In 2014, when Karleigh became a permanent part of our family, it was like I had a new zest for life! The girls are now both 17, and seniors in high-school. We are looking at colleges and prom dresses!

Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin
Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin

Also, had it not been for Karleigh, I would have never met my sons Ayden and Princeton. Because of her, Richardo and I looked into becoming foster parents, which ultimately led to us becoming foster-to-adopt parents. As foster parents, we had to go to many classes and training sessions. It was a very humbling and blessed experience. We met so many great foster parents, many of whom were in similar situations as Richardo and I; unable to conceive, but had the desire to assist children that needed a stable environment while their parents were working on their reunification plan. The ultimate goal of foster care is to reunify the child with their birth families. While this can be an incredibly emotional experience, it’s beautiful at the same time.

Still, not every child in foster care has the option to be reunified with their birth families. So, they will become available for adoption. Ayden was only 4 years old when we met him. He had been in eight different foster homes before ours! A year later, we adopted him. Truly, it was one of the happiest days of our lives! Becoming a ‘forever family’ is something a lot of children in foster care long for, and we never take our family for granted.

Then came Princeton; he was a newborn and in NICU when we got a call to foster a few-days-old baby boy. Upon meeting him for the first time, I instantly became attached to him. I spent weeks doing skin-to-skin with him until he weighed enough to come home. He was with us for 2 years, when to my surprise, his biological father asked me if I would be his mom. My heart was so full– I instantly agreed!  In August 2019, we welcomed Princeton into the forever family fold! Oftentimes during the holidays when I look back over the year, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful for the family God has blessed me with.

Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin

Despite any challenges we may face as a transracial adoptive family, I wouldn’t trade my children for anything. Being Black parents to a White child may seem strange to others but for us, it is our normal! We will continue to share our family and educate others in hopes of changing the narrative, bridging gaps, and eradicating racism, prejudices, and hatred.

Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin
Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin
Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin

In 2020, we have to realize that families don’t have to ‘match’, and we don’t have to look alike to love alike. There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, and many of them are available for adoption. While adoption is not for everyone, if you’ve ever considered fostering or adopting, I encourage you to pray about it, and check with your local social services for additional information! This holiday season is a time for reflection, growth, and love. I feel so blessed to be parents to my four beautiful children this holiday. Adoption is an option to grow families. I know that without the option of adoption, my family couldn’t be complete. Now, I’m in such a happy place in my life, I’m no longer bitter or depressed. I can finally celebrate other women on their journey of motherhood, and that feels amazing!

Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin
Courtesy of Keia Jones-Baldwin

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Keia Jones-Baldwin . You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube . Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Keia:

‘What are you doing? STOP.’ An older gentleman approached me in the store. ‘You stole that baby!’: Mom adopts ‘beautiful white baby boy’ from foster care, claims ‘love is colorful!’

Read more heartfelt stories about adoption here:

‘You must have paid a pretty penny for him.’ I was speechless. No one ever admitted race was a factor.’: Mom describes transracial adoption journey, ’Love mattered most’

‘It’s an impossible mission.’ My mom wasn’t going to give up yet. This was for her little girl. She wasn’t about to lose this fight.’: Transracial adoptee shares journey, ‘My life was forever changed’

‘My mom opened her gift. ‘There’s THREE shirts!’ They were 5, 2, and 9 months. It was daunting and overwhelming.’: Transracial adoptive mama urges ’love makes us a family’

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