‘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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“I am a white mother to three black girls. In terms of race, my husband, Chris, and I are a minority in our home. It may seem strange to begin our adoption story with race, but I do so because it’s usually the first thing people notice about our family. Questions centering around the color of our skin are almost always asked by strangers. And my three daughters talk about skin color daily. For us, our melanin is a normal topic of conversation.

It wasn’t always that way. Before adopting our beautiful black girls, race wasn’t quite part of everyday conversation. But three years ago, life forever changed for Chris and me. We were in our early 30s and finally having the talk. You know, the talk you have once you’ve reached the age that everyone else expects you to have kids. When you honestly respond you aren’t sure if you even want to have kids, you then receive the look. The look that’s somewhere between extreme abdominal pain and being completely and utterly flabbergasted.

After years of receiving this look, Chris and I finally decided to begin talking to adoption agencies in September 2016. We still were unsure if kids would be part of our lives, but we hadn’t ruled them out. The only thing that was sure when it came to kids? Pregnancy was not an option. I’m often in the minority of women when I say this but never in my life have I wanted to grow a baby inside me. I can recall watching a video of live birth in biology class in high school and deciding right then and there, being pregnant was not for me. Coupled that with all the awful pregnancy stories of friends and family, I determined I could show my toughness in other ways. No need to prove myself through childbirth.

Courtesy of Lindsey Willard

Just as I had no desire to grow a baby inside of me, I also had no desire to have a newborn. Chris and I were looking to adopt an older child. In the adoption world, that typically means older than nine months. Chris and I were also set on adopting domestically. As we began talking with adoption agencies, we were told going through private adoption was typically intended for families looking to adopt a newborn. Then we discovered going through the state and adopting an older child could take years of uncertainty, paperwork, foster care, and a host of other hurdles. All of this was very daunting and overwhelming. I would soon discover everything about adoption is complicated, especially when you begin to research the process.

After three months of searching for a good fit, we determined it was time to take a break from looking into adoption agencies. We decided when the time was right, we would somehow know. In late March of 2017, on my way to work, I passed a billboard for an adoption information session at a private agency. We decided to attend the session. But we had no idea attending that information session would forever change our lives. The next evening, I emailed the agency and let them know we were interested in learning more about their adoption options, and we were looking to adopt an older child not a newborn. I received a reply the next morning. They kindly let us know they don’t typically adopt children domestically that are older than 6 months. If we wanted to go that route, we would need to go through their international adoption program.

Great. Here we are again. I was just about ready to throw in the towel.

The adoption agency offered to schedule a phone call with us to discuss international options. Even though we preferred to adopt domestically, we decided sure. Why not? On April 3, 2017, we spoke with the adoption agency about our options. Yet again, we were told unless we were looking for a newborn, we would have to go the international route. We said thank you and hung up. We determined maybe this was a sign this just wasn’t the right time for us to adopt.

On April 13, 2017, I was sitting in a marketing conference. I was listening to someone talking about social media. The presentation was fine but apparently didn’t keep me fully engaged. At that exact time, I received an email from the adoption agency. They had just had a mom come to them looking to have her three girls adopted. The girls were ages 5, 2, and 9 months. I immediately forwarded the email to Chris and added only one word: ‘Thoughts?’ Chris replied with two words: ‘Wow – what?’

Courtesy of Lindsey Willard

From there, we reminded one another we decided three was our max and determined, yes, we were indeed interested. I spoke with the adoption agency later that afternoon and learned we needed to put together our family book over the weekend. The birth mom would be given the book early that week. She was looking to have the girls adopted immediately and would make her choice after she received the family books. Our whirlwind began.

I sent our family book to the adoption agency on Tuesday. At that time, I learned we were one of only three families who would be providing a family book to the birth mother. That week, the birth mom viewed the family books. And by Friday, we had been chosen to be the girls’ mommy and daddy! At that point, I felt like the previous week had been a whirlwind.

If that week felt like a whirlwind, the following two and half weeks were like living inside a tornado, tsunami, hurricane, earthquake, and massive flood. Every single day. Also, we had never told any of our friends or family we were looking into adoption. Why? Because I knew my parents would be so excited and I didn’t want them to go on an emotional roller coaster if the adoption process took years. I didn’t want to get their hopes up only to be let down last minute. I thought waiting until we had applied, done a home study, and were approved was the logical thing to do. Now it was time to throw logic out the window.

Courtesy of Lindsey Willard

The night we learned we were going to be a mommy and daddy, I called my parents who live 300 miles away to let them know I was coming to visit in a couple of days. Of course, they were highly suspicious, but I didn’t want to tell them over the phone. They deserved to have an in-person announcement. On Sunday, April 23, 2017, I drove to my parents’ house alone since Chris had to work the next day. I quickly stopped and picked up three Beatles shirts in the girls’ sizes for my mom, three candies for my dad, and three home goods for my sister. Although my sister wouldn’t be there, the three-theme seemed appropriate.

Five hours later, my parents and I were on a video chat with Chris and my sister. My dad opened his gift and immediately said, ‘There’s three.’ My mom then opened my sister’s gift for her. My dad looked at my mom and said, ‘There’s three!’ Then my mom opened her gift with the three Beatles shirts in the girls’ sizes. And my dad said, ‘They’re having three girls!’ The hugging and crying and questions began. We didn’t have many answers, but with all the love and excitement, we knew the answers would come.

Courtesy of Lindsey Willard

On April 28, 2017, we received word our five-year-old would be coming home with us on May 5. We were going to be a mommy and daddy. It was time to go into overdrive. That evening and every day for the rest of the week, we prepared the house until exhaustion set in. We had dozens and dozens of friends, co-workers, and church members come to our house to make it a home for our three girls. Our church supplied more items and more food for us than I can acknowledge or I even know about. Our co-workers helped take items we no longer needed to the thrift store. They helped baby-proof the house. They picked up and dropped off items we needed. Everyone brought us food. And everyone brought love into our home.

Courtesy of Lindsey Willard

On May 5, 2017, we first met our five-year-old and brought her home with us. And on May 8, 2017, our two youngest daughters walked into our house and our lives forever. We officially became a family of five when our adoption was finalized in September 2018. Our daughters are now 4, 5, and 8. But race remains a topic that is discussed often. Our girls bring up skin color every day. They know it’s okay to see color and admit that we aren’t colorblind.

Courtesy of Lindsey Willard
Courtesy of Lindsey Willard

Being a transracial adoptive family means the world will see us differently and often ask why we’re a family. Chris and I knew when we chose to be a transracial family, this would forever be our identity. We want to answer curiosity. We want to let our girls know it’s okay for us to look different. Our three daughters know, yes, we are a different color but just as much of a family as any other family. Because love makes a family.”

Courtesy of Lindsey Willard

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lindsey Willard from St. Louis, Missouri. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. 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.

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‘This isn’t the place for me. I just don’t fit in.’ He didn’t want to be adopted. We were broken.’: After foster heartbreak, couple adopt teenage boy, ‘He was given to us in our most desperate hour’

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