November is National Adoption Month and a time where we raise awareness of the urgent need to find adoptive families for children.  I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a local adoptive parent, Jourdan Laws.

Below is her truth and journey in the world of adoption.

  1.  Introduce yourself and tell me about your family.

My name is Jourdan Laws, my husband Solomon and I have been married 7 years. In 2019 our son, Joseph, joined our family through domestic infant adoption at 5 weeks old. We’re currently in the process to adopt again.

  1. Let’s chat a little about your adoption journey…beginning, middle and end.  

Like many couples, we assumed starting a family would be easy. We’re both from big families; we were both healthy and really active, so we didn’t think we’d have any issues. A year after we got married and I still hadn’t been pregnant, we started going to fertility specialists and getting tests. 

Adoption was always a plan for us, since we both grew up with adoptees, we just thought it was something we would’ve done later in life. After 3 years of being married and still no pregnancies, Solomon was the one that suggested we look towards adoption instead of pursuing fertility treatments. After talking with a few different agencies, we decided on one and officially started the process to adopt in February 2018. We were home-study approved in July and quickly matched with an expectant mom that was due soon. We found out the day before we were supposed to meet to go over the hospital plan, she had no intention of placing her baby. Expectant moms get expenses paid by the adoption agencies and unfortunately, there are women who will lie.

After months of silence from the adoption agency, I got a call from our social worker and another social worker I initially talked to when I first called the agency.  They let us know there was a baby boy that had been born and wanted to see if we wanted to meet him. Of course, we said “Yes!” As soon as we walked in there he was. In his car seat on the table and I immediately wanted to pick him up. We held him and took photos during the meeting with the social workers so determine what the plan would be and if we felt like this would be a great match for us. We knew we wouldn’t see him again for another 2 weeks if everything worked out, if it didn’t work out that would be the only time we’d see him. We spent the next 2 weeks being what the social worker called “cautiously optimistic” and I did what I call “mini nesting.” When we got to our appointment I made a beeline straight for him and picked him up.  We loaded him in the car and then just stood there staring at each other wide-eyed. “Holy crap, we’re parent’s now!” From orientation to placement, the process took 1 year to become parents.

  1. What are some things they don’t tell you about the adoption process?

It’s not as easy as people make it seem. It’s a lengthy, invasive, and expensive process that may not end with you bringing a child home. There are background checks, financial checks, home visits, medical screenings, personal recommendation letters, interviews with the social worker… etc.  Then you need to create your adoption profile book, which is like a magazine about the potential life the child with have with you.  A social worker told me once she had a mom that only wanted a couple where the wife was a nurse and she wasn’t interested in any other couples. We’ve had two matches this year and both were disrupted. That’s something they don’t really prepare you for, the match falling through.

In our experience, there is also a lot of classism and racism in adoption. There are non-Black hopeful adoptive parents that think they’re entitled to any baby they want, even if the mom is requesting a Black or interracial couple. They will still want to be presented to her. There are adoption professionals that don’t take Black hopeful adoptive parents seriously or even think an expectant mom should place her baby with a Black family. I’ve connected with multiple Black women over the summer that were being discouraged from finding Black couples by social workers. They were told a Black family wouldn’t be the best option for their Black babies and that they needed to just pick one of the white couples that were available to them. It’s very sad and has been a driving force into my advocating so hard for Black adoption. 

  1. What would you say to someone that is thinking about going the adoption route to parenthood; but they have some hesitations/concerns.

Think about why you want to adopt. Are you in it to genuinely give a child a good life and raise them like your child? Do you feel like it’s a duty based on your religion? Is there a hidden agenda for you? Can you afford it?

Adoption is what I like to call beautifully devastating. A family is formed with the placement of a child, but at the same time, a family is severed. There is loss in adoption. We never got to meet our son’s biological mom but I wonder about her often. 

  1. Tell me about your newest venture to help adopting parents.

When I announced our intent to adopt on my social media, I didn’t think it would turn me into a Black adoption advocate. I thought it would just stop people from asking “Why aren’t you pregnant yet?” Just me being myself and sharing what I’d been learning about the process turned into me managing a Black adoption support group on Facebook. Adoption professionals started reaching out to me directly because they were looking for Black or interracial couples for an expectant mom. The mothers of Black and biracial babies have started to demand Black and interracial couples to consider placing their babies with them. There are so many that didn’t know they even had the option because the agencies they were working with only had white couples on their roster. They didn’t know they could leave the agency and find a couple on their own or move to a different agency that had a more diverse pool of couples. In an attempt to make a change, I launched Noire Adoption in June. It’s the first Black-owned and operated self-matching platform and adoption resource. 

  1. If you knew then, what you know now about adoption….what would you do differently?  

The adoption fees were a bit of sticker shock because like most people, I assumed all adoptions were affordable. But other than that, everything turned out perfectly for us with our son’s adoption, minus the woman that was trying to scam us, the end result is exactly what we wanted.

  1. What are the different types of adoption?
  • Foster care: this is done through the state. Most states prioritize reunification so it can be hard to adopt from there. Healthy infants and toddlers are often reunited with family. We were told by a social worker that we could have a child for up to 18 months before parental rights were terminated. Fun fact: children adopted through foster care can often attend state colleges for free, and a lot of universities offer special rates to them as well.
  • Private adoption: this is where the baby is being placed directly from the biological parent to the adoptive parent(s). It can be done with an adoption agency, an adoption attorney or you can try to self-match (you still need an attorney but it is cheaper if all they need to do is draft the paperwork.) 
  • Kinship adoption: this is what the Black community is most familiar with. It’s when you’re placed with the child of someone you know; a friend or family member. Most often this is done with out any paperwork outside of documents saying you can take them to the doctor and enroll them in school but in more recent years, legal guardianship paperwork is being used.
  • International adoption: when the child doesn’t live in the United States, it’s considered international. International adoption is huge for transracial adoption. 
  • Step-parent adoption: when a parent remarries and their new spouse would like to become a legal guardian/parent of the child (ren) in the home.
  1. Have you ever experienced backlash or discrimination because you chose to adopt?  

There were people that had their reservations about it but it’s because they were thinking about old-school adoptions. A few people thought we should’ve pursued IVF instead but now they see how positive of an impact it’s had on all of our lives and they’re all for it now. 

  1. Is there anything else you would like  share with our readers?

I’m working on offering more resources that will help Black and interracial couples navigate the process of private adoption with everything from how to prep for the homestudy to how to prep for the court date to finalize your adoption. Culture does matter.

If you’d like more information on how to get started on the process for private adoption, or if you’re pregnant and considering adoption visit NoireAdoption.com or email [email protected] for more information.

 

Lisa Collins-Haynes is full-time photographer, for the past 7 years. She specializes in client work for motherhood sessions and underwater portraits. She also does commercial work in food and product photography. Lisa holds a BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management and a Masters in Business Administration. Before becoming a photographer, Lisa was an International Travel Writer and enjoyed traversing the globe and story-telling to her readership. Writing was an unexpected pathway into the diverse world of photography for her. When not working behind the lens, Lisa enjoys volunteering in the community, cooking, traveling with her husband and spending time with family and friends. She resides in North Austin; has one college-aged daughter and a grand puppy named, Cookie.

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