BBM Revisits: Black Adoptive Mother Nefertiti Austin

In April of 2013, Nefertiti Austin wrote an essay for us about her choice to adopt a son as a single black woman. Hers was one of our most popular posts, in part because of something she mentions in her essay: the lack of reporting on black single adoptive moms. It seemed our readership was intensely curious about the process and about Nerfertiti’s experience, so we asked her to give us an update on what the last two years have been like for her. We hope you’ll be as happy for her family as we are, when you read what they’ve been up to.

The author
The author

 

October 12th is a seminal date in my family. It will mark my grandmother’s 90th birthday and the day my daughter came home.

For six years, my son and I had been grooving along. He, the intellectually curious, and I, equal parts Tiger-Western-Black mama, enjoyed our place in the world. While I flirted with the idea of a second child, I had no intentions of raising two kids as a single parent. Of course, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as I would learn in May 2013.

Confident that adding to my brood was fiscally not a good idea, I ignored my then kindergartener who began asking for a little sister. After all, we had two dogs and a Betta fish named Quinn Brandon. Our lives were filled to the brim with school, traveling, sports and my writing. But I couldn’t outrun the mommie-jones. Her ass was back and once again, my antennae for all things baby was up. A glutton for punishment, I began the adoption process… again.

The assumption was that since I had a man-child, I would request a little girl. A pair, my cousin suggested. Not true. For starters, girls are more expensive than boys. Let’s take clothes. Boys need a shirt, a pair of pants (shorts if you live in Los Angeles) and clean (not new or busted) tennis shoes; that’s it. Girls have to be accessorized. They need matching socks, hair bands, earrings, sandals, tennis shoes, boots and maryjanes in suede and patent leather. And while I had those things in my own closet, it never crossed my mind to make those purchases in miniature. Money aside, baby girls in the foster care system are easier to place than Black boys. “Sweet”, “angelic” and “precious” are flowery buzz words used to describe them and give the impression that little girls bring quiet adornment to a family. Girls, some think, do not present with ADHD like Black boys, nor will they join gangs, get hauled into the principal’s office for fighting or shot dead by those charged to protect and to serve. None of that is true but for prospective adoptive parents, myths and rumors about Black boys serve as unfortunate deterrents, thus rendering girls more desirable.

Meanwhile, I was happy with my son and adopting another boy was a no-brainer. Six years prior, I had successfully adopted one, so I knew I could do it. Second, I had a male community in place and knew they would shepherd another young brother along. Third, my son’s hand-me-down toys and clothes were washed and waiting. Plus, I already had a daughter, a twelve-year old Yorkie-Lhasa Apso mix who had more attitude than the law allowed.

But then, I met a six-month old doll in a blue dress and all my excuses for why I didn’t want a girl-child to mold and raise in my image went out the window.

A chance meeting with my son’s siblings set in motion the craziest chain of events. Until that time, my son was aware that he was one of several children, but had never met the younger set. Coordinated by my son’s former social worker, we agreed to a meeting. We were both excited and open to the idea of a biological connection. Because my son was an only child, I hoped that a relationship with his siblings would remind him that he was not alone in the world. And that was the goal of the meeting. That’s it. That’s all.

Not only did he leave that visit with a brother and two sisters, I returned home wondering what it would be like to mother the baby girl I held in my arms. Her essence lingered and several weeks later, I could feel her tight grasp on my finger. So there I was, taking steps to adopt a baby boy and unable to shake the feeling that this little girl should be with me. The universe agreed.

Almost two years have passed and my daughter is the four “Fs”: feisty, frilly, funny and fearless. She entered our lives like she’d always been here; assured of her space in my heart and confident that I would figure out how to raise two children alone. It hasn’t been easy and my concerns about physically, financially and emotionally affording a second child have manifested. Under grace, I have weathered them and would happily do it again.

There is no denying the deep connection the three of us share, and her arrival on my grandmother’s, now her great-grandmother’s birthday was more than coincidence; it was divine. My daughter is a gift it seems, to all of us.

Nefertiti Austin is a certified PS-MAPP trainer who co-leads classes for adoptive and foster parents. She blogs about adoption at mommiejonesing.com, and is currently working on a memoir about adopting as a single woman of color. Austin lives with her children in Los Angeles.

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