“My name is Keia Jones-Baldwin, and I’ve been married to Richardo Baldwin for nine years; we’ve been together for fourteen.” When I married Richardo, I already had one biological daughter (Zariyah, 16) from a previous relationship, but I knew I wanted more. Richardo, who had no biological children, was equally excited to expand our family. We quickly discovered that raising a family in the traditional manner was more challenging than we had anticipated.
After a series of miscarriages, we sought help from a reproductive doctor. We were emotionally and spiritually crushed after months, then years, of numerous dollars spent, fertility medicines consumed, failed IVF efforts, and yet no kid. Because all I wanted was to have a kid with my husband and give our daughter a brother, I felt resentful and miserable.
However, our plans are not God’s plans. Little did I know, He had bigger plans for our lives! He required me to heal so that I could hear from Him and do what He asked of me. My husband and I didn’t immediately consider adoption; instead, we looked into the prospect of foster care. Fortunately, in our city, Crossnore School & Children’s Home provided us with the option to foster and adopt. Our attitudes toward adoption didn’t change until we met Karleigh, a friend of Zariyah’s from school when she was 11 years old.
I wasn’t sure I could love another child who wasn’t biologically mine as much as I loved Zariyah, and that wouldn’t have been fair to any child. My heart, on the other hand, opened up to Karleigh right away, and I felt like I was intended to be her mother! I felt the same love and bond for Karleigh as I did for Zariyah, and I knew adoption was an option from the start.
We didn’t want to impose any strict stipulations on age, color, gender, or other factors after finishing our foster care classes and becoming certified foster parents because we wanted to help the children God intended for us to help. Our very first placement was with Ayden (8). 2 years later, he was also our first adoption! We are overjoyed that God selected Ayden for us, and that he chose us! Ayden and Karleigh are both multiracials, which has aided their bonding. It’s crucial to have someone who looks like you and understands your situation.
We received a phone call from our foster care supervisor about a newborn baby who was in NICU and needed someone to do skin to skin with him after a few more placements that led to reunifications (which is sometimes difficult for foster parents, but that is the goal), and after a few more placements that led to reunifications (which is sometimes difficult for foster parents, but that is the goal), we received a phone call from our foster care supervisor about a newborn baby who was in We didn’t know anything about the baby except that he was a boy, his name, and the hospital where he was being treated.
When I first arrived at the hospital, I was overwhelmed by the number of gorgeous newborns in the NICU and wondered which black or brown kid they would pair me with. The nurse led me over to this tiny little 2-pound white baby boy, who was likewise quite lovely! Initially, I wondered aloud, ‘Are they serious?’ I thought to myself, “Is this a joke?” but then my maternal instincts kicked in!
Princeton (2) came into our home once he was strong enough to leave the hospital, where he was loved, nurtured, safeguarded, cared for, and spoilt! It didn’t matter to us that he was a white boy, but it did to others! I never imagined that my son’s race would result in so much condemnation, scorn, resentment, and outright prejudice.
When he was a baby, the police were called on us multiple times because they feared we’d kidnapped him. An older white male approached my son and me in a supermarket store and began recording and photographing us as he was seated in the shopping cart. I asked him what he was up to and told him to stop right away. He explained that he was going to security with this ‘proof’ since I had ‘clearly stolen’ someone’s kid.
Our daughters have been asked if he is really their brother by their instructors, who have passed judgment on us. They must think I’m the ‘babysitter.’ ‘Why didn’t you adopt a black child when there are so many black children in need of excellent homes?’ we’ve been asked. ‘Why didn’t you let that infant stay with his kind?’ or ‘Why didn’t you allow that baby stay with his kind?’ We’ve been in restaurants where we were practically ‘kept prisoner’ and refused to go because they assumed Princeton had been kidnapped.
All of these types of occurrences are really painful, yet I never once felt as if Princeton didn’t belong to me in my mind or heart. I’ll always go with him! I’ve never been afraid to fight a battle that God has given me the authority to fight because I know I’ll win! I’ll never claim that fostering and adoption are simple or painless because they aren’t. It’s full of highs and lows, disappointments and triumphs. Sadness, joy, weakness, and strength are all emotions. The day we brought Princeton home from the hospital, our lives were forever changed! One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to become his mother. I’ve grown stronger, smarter, kinder, and more patient.
We’ve been able to maintain contact with our children’s biological families (our bonus family members). We must be careful not to offend and develop to love one another because we are all different in our culture, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and age. This is especially true if we want to keep our children in our life. Ayden’s biological siblings (all Caucasians) have been adopted by another family, and we adore them! They have always been supportive of our decision to adopt Princeton, and as we share a sibling group, they will continue to be a major part of our lives.
Despite facing numerous hurdles, our multiracial family has received tremendous support. We’ve met some incredible folks thanks to our family blog, Raising Cultures. I enjoy referring to them as my children’s “virtual aunts and uncles.” We have the opportunity to teach others about the benefits, drawbacks, and inconsistencies of having a mixed family.
Racism, prejudice, preconceptions, and division may all be overcome with education. Our aim is that as a result of our love story, others will not be frightened to foster or adopt, and that love will not be limited. Love is vibrant! We all have the ability to love unconditionally; all we have to do is be prepared to open our hearts to do so!”