“Last year was a year to remember or one we all want to forget! Our family was in the process of adopting our twin boys when the pandemic happened and things came to a complete stop. Like many other families, we had no clue what was about to happen next. Then in our city and community and, as a matter of fact, across the world.
All the civil unrest started, the looting, the violence, lack of supplies and items in stores. It was so crazy to sit back and watch. Our workers and even close family members asked us if we were sure about adopting the twins. We both looked at them like they were crazy and asked, ‘Why?!’ We happen to be black, and our twins are white. Mind you, we had adopted before, one child of our race and the other not. We knew things were rough and the world was ablaze, but we knew our boys were part of our family.
Let’s rewind a bit. My name is Jennifer, and I am an early learning specialist and co-owner of a small childcare program. My husband, Harry, is a mechanic and super daddy. We both have a heart for children and share the purpose of foster care. Our family has been a foster family for fifteen years. My husband and I have been married eight years in September. Together, we have been the parents of thirty-one placements. Some short, others long, but all children who were facing separation from their biological families.
We started caring for a little one, who was kinship and not in the foster care system, at the beginning of our journey. We were not married when we first opened our home. Life has a funny way of planning itself out. Our kindship placement went home after three years, and we were very hurt and confused about the way the system is failing children worldwide.
We decided to stay open since the process was so long and tedious. Maybe a month later, we received a call for an eight-day-old little girl. At the time, our baby was six months, and our older daughter was ten. We did not think twice. After that, the calls and the placements began. It was amazing we had a shared purpose and enjoyed caring for children and giving them a safe place, even if it was only for a few days.
Our family has two biological girls 21 and 11. Our boys are adopted: 10, 8, and our twins are three. We became a large family through the foster care system. Each child in our home has their own journey and story, and we understand adoption is not the end and does not make things all better. It does give them a second family and a home that is theirs forever.
Our twins came to visit for respite care to give their original foster mother a break. Twin little ones still in withdrawal were not easy. My husband and I were up to the challenge. We had not had babies in the house for a while, and the older children were excited. Until the crying started. It is funny: they were so sweet when happy but were super loud criers.
They are fraternal, but a first, we had to figure out who was who and were so afraid we were going to mix them up. At the time, our home had four other children already, our youngest was five. They were the center of attention. The twins still were struggling from withdrawal upon their arrival and cried and were a bit uncomfortable. We took turns waking up, walking the floor with them, and keeping them comfortable.
Our children loved them at first sight. Our older daughter was away at school and could not believe we had two more little babies, and she could not wait to come home to see them. By the end of the weekend, we were exhausted!! Twins and four little ones under ten are a lot. We made it through a long weekend and gladly dropped them home.
Then, on Tuesday morning, we got a call. ‘Would you all mind keeping the boys long-term?.’ We looked at each other and cracked up. The kids were cheering after our agency called back for the twin to stay. My husband said ‘no’ very quickly. He works part-time, so he spends a lot of time at home caring for our children, shuttling the children around, and going to doctors’ appointments. Two little ones who needed a lot of support and had some medical conditions would be a lot. We did think it was funny because our oldest was on her way to college, and the other children were out of diapers, strollers, and becoming more independent. We must be crazy to start over again.
We said, ‘Yes!!’ Family and friends called us crazy, but God gave us peace with the decision. Our home went from four children to six— beautiful chaos. My nieces and church families were so helpful and helped us through the first year. Their case moved quickly to adoption, we were incredibly surprised and so unprepared.
My husband and I struggled with the idea not only of having a larger family but becoming the parents of two children who do not look like us, even though our older son is also of a different race, were we ready to do it again. We had amazing support from our pastor and friends, who all offered to support and be a village and a team for our new little additions. They both have some special needs, and some challenges, but they are amazing and full of life and personality.
Having one child who is of a different race is hard, but three can make things even more difficult. Many times, in public or family events, we get stares and whispers. At times people ask, ‘Whose children do you have?’ ‘Why do you have so many white children?’ We have been refused at pick-up times at our son’s school. We do not mind the looks and the stares, but our children can hear, and they do have feelings. They are not showpieces or props. They are people, and they are real.
Once my husband, the twins and three of our children were playing in the park near our home. We go all time. He was sitting on the bench watching them play, talking to them, and enjoying the day. A woman thought he was stealing them from the playground. She wanted to call the police because they were crying when it was time to go. We drive a twelve-passenger van and have a double stroller in the back. My older children looked very confused. Annoyed and disgusted, he loaded the kids and heading home. We have been pulled over by the police a few times in our minivan for no reason at all.
With incidents like the one in the park or even family members who say things, we always acknowledge our children’s feelings first. Asking them how things make them feel is so important. We also feel helping them to find their voice is important, and we teach them to never be rude or disrespectful because that only feeds hate.
Our older daughter has friends who ask questions about foster care and adoptions often. At first, she was embarrassed and didn’t want to share. Now as a middle schooler, she is an amazing advocate and big sister. She needed to find her voice and place in the world. Our boys know they’re adopted, and they own the rights to their journeys and stories. They do not share often, but they are still young.
They do ask questions about why people stare or say mean things. It breaks our hearts. We always share with them: people fear what they do not know. But it is okay to be different, and our family is amazing. The conversations are not as difficult as they get older, and we feel they are necessary. As the events of last year unfolded, watching the riots and the city burning, we watched and talked to our children and asked them how they felt. What did they think? You would be amazed: they were hurt, confused, and wanted justice and for kids to be safe. It’s funny: our eight-year-old, who is a big law enforcement fan, also wants to change the law and protect kids and grownups from violence and hate.
The pandemic shed a light on so many disparities in the system. We lost friends due to their stance on race and the mistreatment of black and brown men and children. Things like race, politics, and the value of human life are not questioned in our home. Our adoption profile took a long time to review and be approved. We were questioned about our ability to raise children who happened to be of a different race than us. My husband had the best response ever, ‘I can raise good men!’
We are open and honest about our children. Not many families look like ours, and that is okay. We can only help them to grow in love and navigate the world. We speak adoption in our home, but love is our first language. The world of last year showed so much hate. We choose love and kindness. My husband and I had a lot of difficult and uncomfortable conversations. We are not color blind; we see color and acknowledge God’s amazing paintbrush and pallet. It is okay to be different, even our three-year-olds know and appreciate that.
Our family eats pizza on Wednesdays, goes to the park, likes a good movie on Saturday nights, and loves to swim. We are like any other family, except we have different skin colors and were brought together by the foster care system. Families like ours exist and want to live and be safe. We use the hashtag #Moore2luv for the twins. Each day is a constant reminder things are not perfect. Some days are chaotic, others are sweet and full of laughs, but who could ask for anything Moore?!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jennifer McDuffie Moore. You can follow their journey on Instagram. 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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