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dear birthmother letters



'birthparents' views on adoption

  June 2003

African-Americans – The Moral Majority of the Not-Adoption World


I have just discovered that the huge majority of African-Americans do not follow the example of middle class White America that appears to believe stranger adoption was, and is, a suitable fate for their grandchildren. In stark contrast, African-Americans ‘keep’ their grandchildren, absorbing them into large, functioning extended families.

Actually, they don’t make decisions to ‘keep’ their children’s children; they just don’t give any credence to the practice of stranger adoption. They don’t even consider it as a solution or an option, and therefore there is no ‘choice’ to make. They don’t think about it at all. If you mentioned "Adoption Plan" to them they would probably think it refers to a dramatic rescue of a stray dog at the local pound, a last minute save from oblivion. Did you know that animal shelters pioneered the term "Adoption Plan"? Makes you think, doesn’t it.

For the large majority of African-American families, there is no ‘choice’ when faced with the unplanned or otherwise unexpected pregnancies of their youthful off-spring. The surprise baby is welcomed into the family. Rejection is not considered. Nor is the mother abandoned, rejected or exiled - even if some family members may initially be less than pleased at the prospect of the extra responsibility about to be placed upon them. Sometimes the news is a shock but then everyone adjusts to the changed circumstances. It’s what African-American families seem to do, naturally. They just get on with life and embrace the good things life brings. This includes welcoming grandchildren into the family in an inclusive way. Aunties and uncles rally around and express their joy at the birth of the new arrival. They could teach White-Middle-Class American nuclear families a thing or two about how to function as a strong, cohesive family. If words retained their original meaning, then African-Americans could righteously consider themselves to be the original Moral Majority of the Not-Adoption world. Good on them.

In the community of Norfolk, Virginia, a clinic provides excellent medical and social care to young, expectant mothers who are encouraged to return to school after their baby is born. Grandmothers, great grandmothers and even older sisters, seem to expect that they will take over the day to day care of the infant so the mother can complete her schooling. The state assists in important ways, with day care subsidies for those mothers able to get paid employment and where a family member is unavailable to provide day care – usually because female relatives have paid employment of their own. But regardless of the circumstances of the mother – regardless of whether she is still at school or in the work force, each baby is embraced by the wider family group.

What is it with African-Americans? Don’t they know that their exceptionally cute grandchild would be much better off with a wealthy white couple who – granted – would have preferred a white child, but would grudgingly take theirs instead, given the current climate of acute baby shortages? Don’t these people read the papers, or listen to TV news? Don’t they go on-line and read the “waiting families’ book” advertisements? What makes African-Americans behave so selfishly? What induces them to put love and loyalty and genuine family affection before the needs of sterile, white America? And what do they expect the baby brokers to do when they are put out of business - line up for welfare food stamps? Now, hold that thought.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s pretty much a proven fact that the major cause of infertility in North America today is untreated sexually transmitted diseases. Yep, that’s the situation for most of those morally superior, infertile people just hanging around internet sites, waiting for a single mother to provide them with her family, and trying to entice her to do so with lures of ‘paid medical expenses’. Well, they needn’t waste their time hanging around the Hampton Roads area of Norfolk where a community embraces the unmarried mother – and her baby too. They won’t find any ‘unwanted’ babies there – now, or in the future. And the medical care is free as it is for all young single mothers in North America, without medical insurance.

The local newspaper has burst into print to support the right of the young African-American mother to maintain her education while honoring her motherhood. The editor is calling for more community support to assist her in her dual roles of student and parent. There is even a school set up especially for expectant mothers, so they won’t be disadvantaged academically, simply because of the pregnancy. It’s all quite enlightened, really. It’s all a bit of a shock.

What I want to know is, how did this happen? What made African-American families reject the values of white middle class America and maintain their own cultural, traditional family values where the next generation is considered to be the focus of life, even a reason for life itself? Could this be an accidental by-product of racism? Did white America practice social apartheid so effectively they truly did not have a clue that this widespread practice of families absorbing their own children, was even going on? And now it’s too late for Adoption Planning. Oh dear.

I am left wondering how the solid, dependable family values of the African-American community in Norfolk, Virginia, could be successfully transmitted to a white ‘educated’ America that still advocates abandoning one’s own grandchildren, and represents this barbaric practice as a positive value by which to live. Maybe some African-Americans would be willing to role model by visiting with groups of white middle class people –or – should I say ‘waiting families’ to explain to them very carefully, why throwing away your grandchildren by giving them to strangers who pay money for them, is not only a socially unsavory practice but a most unhealthy one in terms of sound, generational family values.

I know you are thinking I made all this up. But I didn’t. You can go right to the source and read it for yourself. It really is a most uplifting story, on-line at, "Choosing Motherhood" by Kristen De Deyn Kirk (Port Folio Weekly, May 6, 2003, pages 18-24. Editorial, page 4)

A cultural comparison will provide you with a new perspective on the frighteningly shallow family values of an 'educated' white America that chucks away its own daughters and grandchildren because of .... Now, what was that reason again? No matter how often you tell me, I never seem to get it right. I think that’s because I get so distracted by the racket coming from the adoption cash registers and the happy chatter of adoption brokers on the way to the bank, as they help each other haul their loot across the bodies of their victims.

From — Consumer demand sets the price ...



Voices From Exile Copyright © 2003 Joss Shawyer

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