S2E10 - How I Adopted my Child at Birth w/ Joy

Episode 10 November 22, 2023 00:49:14
S2E10 - How I Adopted my Child at Birth w/ Joy
Start to Finish Motherhood with Aisha
S2E10 - How I Adopted my Child at Birth w/ Joy

Nov 22 2023 | 00:49:14

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Hosted By

Aisha Jenkins

Show Notes

In this heartwarming episode, we delve into Joy's Single Mother by Choice journey, which took her through the ups and downs of adoption. Aisha highlights the importance of resilience during the path to parenthood, emphasizing that becoming a single mother by choice is indeed a journey. Joy shares her adoption experience, from creating an adoption profile to navigating the process with consultants and agencies. She discusses her motivation to adopt, emphasizing the need for self-advocacy and staying in the driver's seat. Joy also encourages seeking support from therapists and online communities like the Melanated Single Mothers by Choice Facebook group. She mentions valuable resources like the "We Adopt Too" granting agency for families of color pursuing adoption. It's a conversation filled with wisdom and inspiration for anyone on their own Single Mother by Choice journey.

 

Joy's Story: Journey to Motherhood: Adopting as a Single Black Woman - Ebony

Joy's IG handle

https://watadoptions.org

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:04] Speaker A: Welcome to Start to Finish Motherhood, a podcast for those thinking or already single mothers by choice. Just looking for practical advice for navigating life's relationships. When you decide to have children on your own, it doesn't mean that you're completely alone. I'm Aisha Jenkins and I'm partnering with you every step of your journey. [00:00:24] Speaker B: Hi. [00:00:25] Speaker A: Hi, everybody. I have a guest with me today and we've been in community for a while now, I want to say a couple of years, and I've loved hearing about your parenting journey. I love hearing and watching your daughter bounce around while we're on calls, but I didn't know your full story, and so I was so glad to come across your profile in Ebony Magazine earlier this year. And a lot of your story really did resonate with me, in particular the ups and downs and finally the success of becoming a parent and welcoming your child into your home. I talk a lot on this podcast about the joys of raising my kids and the journey to find my way to them. That journey, I don't talk about it as deeply and as impactful as it was to me, but it was a lot and many of the conversations I had while I was going through that journey was with myself. And I'm sure my guests can also relate that there's a lot of self talk that you have to keep yourself bolstered to keep yourself hopeful. And when it finally happens, that kind of creates the space for the joy that you have as you're raising them and you encounter some of the challenges that kids go through on a normal basis. And so to that, I actually have created a couple of YouTube videos on the start to finish Motherhood Channel that's linked in the show notes below, along with the Ebony article. And it discusses the five phases of the single mother by choice journey, specifically to try to dispel the perception that some have that people just wake up one day and decide, I'm going to become a parent on my own. And that doesn't really happen. We call it a journey because it is a journey, and for some people it takes a number of weeks, and for others, it takes years just to get started on the journey. And so today I'd like to spend some time with my guest Joy, talking about her story and highlighting specifically the thinking and the parenting phases of the single mother by Choice journey. So, Joy, I'm glad to have you here. [00:02:40] Speaker B: Hi, I'm Joy and I have an 18 month old. I live here in metro Atlanta and I do marketing as my full time job. I adopted my daughter at birth and I was able to be there for the labor and delivery. I was in the room yelling, Push, push. And holding the birth mother's legs and also advocating for her. It was a pretty intense labor, a lot of stopping, a lot of starting, a lot of doctors coming in, doctors going out, flurry of people. And so it was clear that she was in some pain. The baby was also in a bit of distress throughout this process. And she kept saying that she was just done, she was tired. And then I looked at her after the second time when she requested, can we just do a C section? I looked at her, she looked at me, and I looked at the doctors, and I was like, okay, that's it. Okay, this isn't working. We need to do something else. They rushed her into the or. And justice was born, but she was born not breathing. She was not breathing for three minutes, which is a long time. And then finally they willed her out to me and she's been with me ever since. Well, thank you. [00:03:53] Speaker A: Thank you for sharing that part of your story. So we have in a single mother by choice, we are so happy with dividing people into groups and categories. And there is an ASMC or b. SMC. And then for some people, adoption is their first choice, adoption is their second choice. Donor egg all kind of roll into there. Where do you fall along that spectrum? Was adoption your first choice? [00:04:20] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, I always wanted to adopt a child. I just never thought that it would be my only option to becoming a mom. And when I was little, I don't even know where I got this idea, but when I was little, I had said that I want to adopt a baby one day. But as I grew older, it's like, okay, I'll adopt a child, that'll be my second baby, and I'll have a baby biologically. Well, that did not work. I tried and I remember a phone call from my OB, this is seven years ago or something, where she goes, okay, Joy, we found PCOS, you have fibroids, you have endometriosis. It's like a whole long list of problems reproductive wise, and said, if you ever want to have a child, you're going to need help. And this was before I turned 40. And so when she said that, I think it might have been mid 30s or something when she said that, I was like, okay, lady DA. And I went on with the rest of my around 38, 39, after I started to settle down from my very busy job as a journalist into more of a marketing type role, like, that's where I was headed. I had gone to grad school again, and I was like, I think I'm done being a reporter, running all over the place, and now it's time to try and put the focus on motherhood. Went in and I thought this was going to be an easy process, and it was not. Went to a fertility doctor and I tried month after month after month, thousands of dollars going out of my checking account. And finally I was like, okay, I don't have enough money to keep going with this. And where would we end up anyway? There's no guarantee that if we went IVF that how many times would I have to go for it to work? And I'm just thinking, dollar signs. Dollar signs. Like, I've already tried this and this is not working, and, okay, well, then what's after that? Surrogacy. Oh, my God, that's so expensive. And I didn't have a lot of money and savings to try to figure that out. So I said, well, that's it? I'm done. I'm done trying. I've run out of money, and I don't want to keep trying to figure out ways to make this work. And I really felt like my body had let me down. You go so long with this idea that you're going to be able to have a baby and then to basically be told, no, this isn't working for you. You might want to put your money elsewhere. It was devastating. And so you have to sort of mourn the loss of not being able to have a biological child. And that took me a little while. And then my OB, because of all my reproductive health issues, she eventually went ahead, and we had a total hysterectomy. And so then there was no chance at that point. But she made me sit with that decision for a better part of a year before she went forward with the hysterectomy. She says, you just had these fertility things happen. You've had some other things happen in your life. You don't want to make such a big decision when you've got so much turmoil and chaos going on. I need you to sit with this. So I sat with it for a year. I walked it back into her office. I said, okay, doc, I still think the same thing. She went ahead and did it, and then it took me another year or so to get on the adoption train, because, again, the adoption professionals, knowing my history, also didn't want me to not be prepared to parent a child that I've adopted when I'm still over here mourning the loss of a child that I couldn't birth. And so I got all that worked out, went to therapy, which I'm still in therapy, and then went forward with adoption, which was its own hellish ride. [00:08:14] Speaker A: So before we get there, you mentioned a few things that I want to unpack. So the first thing was knowing that adoption was somewhere in your future. Did that make it easier to make the pivot when you had to? [00:08:32] Speaker B: Yeah, it made it easier for me. My doctor didn't think it was so easy, which is why she had me sit around and wait for a while. But, yeah, it wasn't a hard pivot. It wasn't a hard pivot for me because I was already thinking, this is something that I wanted to do, but I still needed to make sure my mind was right about the next decision. You don't want to bring a child whether they're through foster care adoption or private adoption, kinship adoption. You don't want to bring a child in, be thinking about this child over here that doesn't even have a face name, but you're still upset about it. But I pivoted, and I think it was just sort of more of a smoother transition for me than maybe some other folks have experienced. [00:09:17] Speaker A: Yeah. And that part of your story really resonated with me because for my second, when I ran into the three year journey, I pivoted to donor egg. And if I had not been in community and if that had not been an option in my head when I started trying for my second, I think it would have been really hard to make that transition. But knowing the universe of options, right, I knew potentially adoption was on a table, potentially donor egg was on a table. Potentially donor embryo was on a table. So knowing that I had options the way that I prepared financially and I want to ask you a little bit, because I think you had to get creative with finances, too, right? Because people who choose to become single mothers by choice, we're not rich, right. [00:10:00] Speaker B: So we got to look at our finances. Right. [00:10:04] Speaker A: But I think knowing that that universe would require financing allowed me to play around with what resources I had, set some aside and talk to a therapist and get my mind right if I had to pivot right. And then once I did, it wasn't a matter of years before I made the decision. I made the decision because I knew I had spoken with people, I had done my research. So it was easy to make the transition. Easy is relative because I still had to process my emotions and mourn. Like you said, there's a lot of healing that goes on through the journey if you do it in a mindful way. Right. It's just like before I take this next step. I don't have these kids yet, but I can see them in my future. I still want to do right by the kids that I bring into my home. So there's that. [00:10:50] Speaker B: Exactly. Okay. [00:10:52] Speaker A: And you mentioned private versus foster to adopt. Did you consider both? [00:10:58] Speaker B: Yeah, so I considered and tried both. So foster to adopt is not really the terminology that they use here in Georgia. I did want to adopt from foster care, and I just didn't know what was in store. But in the beginning, I said, okay, I want a baby. I want the child to be zero to two. Okay, that's the bracket y'all need to put me in. I'm going to sit back and wait for this baby to arrive out of foster care. I was on the list for the youngest age children forever. My name never came up. My number never came up. So I said, okay, those kids they're not around. Most people go from wanting to have their own biological child. Then you get into foster care, and so then you're thinking, I still want a baby. Can I get a baby through foster care? And it's just really difficult. There are a lot of people just like that who would rather adopt the youngest of children that are in foster care. And those children tend to have more options for being placed. Okay, so that didn't pan out. So I increased my age all the way to eight years old. I said, okay, I'm going to be able to adopt a child between zero to eight. And then when that was like hit or miss, I said, okay, one more change. I can do legal risk placement. And what legal risk placement is the child is not completely free put this in air quotes, but free to be adopted, available to be adopted. They're sort of in the last stages of state care. Maybe there hasn't been the TPR, so the pulling of the parental rights from the parents yet, but it's close. And so the legal risk part of it is they come to stay with you, but hey, it might go the other way. Grandma, auntie might come out of somewhere and this child is going to go with them. Are you willing to take that risk? Sign me up. So I'm waiting and waiting, and I got a few matches, but honestly, they were not real matches for me. I remember going to an adoption party and being the only single black woman that was there, never mind all the children that were running around in this arcade looked like me. So black children, one of the only black people there, the other black folks that were there, social workers, okay, and then there's me, and then there was a lot of white families. So when I walk in, social workers came out of nowhere. And one of the social workers said to me, she leaned in, she whispered, and she goes, you're a unicorn. I said, what do you mean? It's just like we just do not have black families that come to our adoption events. We do not have a lot of families that are black that choose to do this. Most of our kids go to white homes or families with white parents. Not that there is a problem with that, but it sort of stood out that here are these children that looked like me, but for the most part, the people who were coming to adopt them did not look like them. And so for me to be there and for her to say that, it stood out to me. [00:14:09] Speaker A: So how did you find out about the adoption event? Because sometimes it's like, did the egg come before the chicken? So how is the advertising and area? [00:14:19] Speaker B: I was pretty active in trying to find a child to adopt, so I would ask my case manager, are there any events going on? What's happening this month? Can you send me this? Can you send me that? So I started to get on list for these parties and would get emails of the children that was going to be there. So I think a lot of that came from my own effort to find out, how is this happening? That other people are getting matches and I'm just getting some here and there. So then I started getting these updates and I went and so that's how I found that party. And then another couple family that was there, a gay couple, had told me while I was there, they came over because I guess I just walked in the room and it was apparent that I was different. So they came up to me and they said that I needed to just watch out because this is a true story that I need to just watch out because they're going to try to give you the hardest to place kids because you're different. They don't see me. They see us walking in here and they just going to give us the hardest to place kids. Really? Is it like that? In my experience, that is exactly the way it was. I felt like I was getting matched with children who were so far from what I said I could handle, what I had put on all these sheets of paper that they asked you to write down, all this stuff about what you can handle, what you understand, what you have history in. So none of those matches worked. Okay? And I won't get into details of all those children, but I just felt like I was being sidelined for being a unicorn, for there not being much representation of a single black woman trying to adopt from foster care. And so we're not talking about kinship adoption where that happens a lot in our communities. We're not talking about that. We're talking about children. I do not know. I'm walking in and saying, I want to adopt them. That is not typical. And so I felt like I was just getting any child case, that they was just like, oh, let's try this one. Oh, let's try this one. Okay, well, let's try this. So in the end, it didn't work out. In the last part of that, it was just so devastating. I said, just forget it. Maybe I'm not meant to be a mom. I had found a child that I wanted to adopt, found her on my own, found a child that I wanted to adopt. She was at one of these parties, and I basically kept after her social worker month after month after month after month trying to find out could I wiggle my way in to the list of people that might be interested in her. And finally they called me and they said, okay, we want to move forward with an adoption. All her stuff was here at my house, her clothes. We were getting ready for school. We had been school shopping. We had met her principal. And then a weekend, she went back to see her friends again, say bye again to her foster mother. And I thought she was coming back on Sunday or Monday or whatever. That Saturday, a social worker just showed up in my house unannounced. Nobody called with the child with her and was just like, we're here to get all her stuff. What do you mean you're here to get all her stuff? She lives here? Well, I don't know. I'm just a transporter. We're just here to get all her things. Because the child was with her. I didn't argue the point, but it was just another example of state care not being it's just not very straightforward. There is a lot of things that fall through the cracks, a lot of paperwork. I'm not necessarily going to know things that you find out later. And I think some of this is just because of lack of funding that goes into these state departments. Some of it is the social workers are overworked. Like that woman who arrived at my door had never met me. I had never met her, but they took her stuff and I never saw her again. [00:18:08] Speaker A: So it's almost like they didn't see you as a person. They saw you as a resource that was disposable, and I'm sorry. [00:18:17] Speaker B: Yeah, that's really what I felt like. And at that point, me and that child had spent so much time together, and this is during the pandemic, and I just thought, this is my daughter. We're about to have the rest of our lives. We're going to be good. And then they just showed up and took her and took her stuff. The only explanation I got later was that she was going to miss her friends. I was so livid because I'm like, you're going to allow this child to decide. Or maybe she did or maybe she didn't. I don't know what the truth is of it, but to say she's going to miss her friends back where she used to live every kid says that when they move. Social workers point part of their job. If a child has reached that point in state care to be adopted or has been in state care for so long, your job is to try to help prepare them to be adopted. Okay. And I don't feel like this happened. And I was just so devastated about the whole thing. I said forget it. Maybe I'm not meant to be a mom. And I just sort of forgot about it for a while until my therapist said, don't let go of your dreams because of something somebody else did. Keep going with this effort. [00:19:27] Speaker A: So let me ask you this. You mentioned your experience with your OB, and your OB asked you to just pause and take some time to think about it. Was your OB black, white? [00:19:40] Speaker B: She was Indian. Okay. [00:19:42] Speaker A: And then your therapist a black woman. So it seems like by having people of color in your ecosystem, they saw you and they had real conversations with you. Let's pause for a minute and take care of Joy. [00:19:57] Speaker B: Yeah, my OB, she was honest. She's been my OB for so long and seeing me through so much stuff, and she knew I wanted to be a mom, but she was just like, let's just give this some thought. Let's just think about it, because this is a big decision you're going to be making as it relates to the total hysterectomy. And then with my therapist, she had been with me for a while, and she had seen me through all these things I was trying to do and was just like, okay, Joy, if this is what you want, it didn't just pop into your head yesterday that you wanted to be a mom, right? This has been an idea that you have had since you were a child, that you wanted to be a mom. You are a empathetic motherly type figure. Obviously, you're going to be a mom. Now it's just a matter of how is this going to happen? And maybe we're going to have to redefine what you thought that looks like. So of course I wanted to be married when I was a kid. You grow up now, I'm going to have that white dress. I'm going to get married before I'm 30, I'm going to have my kids, and it's just going to be awesome. Well, that didn't happen. And so then you have to keep shifting your thinking, reordering your steps, or rather following the new order of the steps that you've now been given, right? And so the therapist was like, don't give up. I know this has been a stressful. Don't give up. I'm like, Well, I don't have the money for this. I've already spent a whole bunch of money. I don't have the money for this. Let's reconsider that, that you don't have the money for this. [00:21:32] Speaker A: All right, let's pause there for a second because that's a whole conversation, but I just wanted to insert for the listeners, and I plan to do I'll do a YouTube video on this because there were a couple of times where I had to self advocate for myself, right? And I'll see people on the forums and in the different black spaces that I'm in. They're like, I'm looking for a black therapist. I'm looking for a black attorney, a black OB, a black doctor. And it's just like, I always kind of push back a little because it's not just the race that matters, right? Because a lot of these doctors are coming up in a white supremacist medical system anyway that have been trained to not necessarily see us. Their systems have kind of races, functions, and calculations built into them. The thing that I challenge people with is to sit with what's important for you, what does it mean for you to be seen? What does it feel like? And then come up with a list of questions and interview, right? So maybe pick three practices or therapists or what have you, and just have whatever that consultation period is. Ask them pointed questions, and that tells you if they can see you. But also, I would love it if we got into the habit of asking questions. Don't leave a room with a question unasque, right? That's your 15 minutes. That's your 20 minutes. They should stop at the door when you say, I have one more question. Ask all your questions. Because it is kind of like that give and take. They should be doing their job, but if they should fall down on their job, hold them accountable to say, hey, but you didn't ask me if I had any questions, because I have questions, right. And so get comfortable asking that. And I love that you were asking questions. [00:23:13] Speaker B: Right. [00:23:14] Speaker A: You were asking but it sounds also that you had good providers, and so it wasn't so much of a burden put on you. They created the space, and you had questions and you asked them. [00:23:26] Speaker B: Exactly. Yeah. Advocating for yourself is a very big thing. And like I talked about the labor and delivery of my daughter. That was one of those instances where we were in a room where two black women in a room with doctors that do not look like us, in a city full of people mostly who do not look like us at a hospital, and that had not really done adoptions very often. And so here we were. And I just felt like if we don't speak up, this could turn into a disastrous situation at this hospital on this day. And so that was another instance of just reminding yourself to advocate for yourself, definitely in spaces where you don't feel seen, but then in every space where you walk into the room advocating for yourself. And so my therapist has always created a and I've gone through a few, but this therapist has always created a space for me to just sort of say, like, why is this happening to me feeling like you're the only person in the world that's having an infertility journey, you're feeling so alone. I remember trying to go to support groups. I couldn't find not one support group in my city of black people with black women that have gone through infertility. I'm like, Where's our support group? I ended up at a Jewish support group. Now, not to say that anything is wrong with that, but I felt so out of place. I was just trying to find someplace where there was women talking about this out in the open. There weren't a lot. At least I didn't see where it was, us talking about it. So it's like, okay, let me keep going. Keep going. And so this therapist has been really helpful. And she noted that. Don't you own your home? Yeah. Okay. All right. Don't you have some equity in your home? I guess she was like, well, the sales of homes and values, this is during the Pandemic, they're going up. What do they look like in your area? So now she got me thinking. She got me thinking, are you saying I do have money that I didn't realize I had? I'm going to challenge you with investigating that. And then after you look at that, come back and talk to me about it. So I'm like, okay, whatever. So I go and look into the equity of my home and the value of it. I was shocked. I was shocked by the value of the house compared to what I had paid for and the amount of equity that was sitting in it. Thanks to the Pandemic, this house value just went through the roof. And I had so much room to be able to take the money that I needed, of course. And I went back. She was like, See the young birthday. Here you go. I took money out of my home. I didn't have to remortgage it or anything like that. I took money out of my home. Still retaining equity in a good amount of equity. It was funny. The financial people were like, well, you can go up to this amount. You're not going to get me caught like that. No, this is all I need right here. That's all I'm taking. As much as I have been quoted by some consultants that I would need, they told me, for private adoption that I would need at least $45,000. And I needed it in the bank before they started sending my stuff off to places. Because in the past, they've got into some situations where people said they had the money, did not have the funds. They got presented with an option and then could not pay the fee. And so, just like, we're not going to get in that situation with you or with anyone else, and so we need you to have this money first. I said okay. So I pulled the money out. But what they didn't know what was happening, and I didn't say no to nobody. But what they did know what was happening is that life happened. So from the time that I pulled that $45,000 out of the house to the time that I needed to pay somebody, it was not 40, right? The roof had to get done. I had some other health stuff to come up. I'm like, oh, my God, where my adoption money is? I had to get creative and silent. I didn't tell these consultants that my funds were dwindling. I was just like, I'm going to have the funds by the time that they I started looking for grants everywhere. Some people do those adoption fundraisers. No one knew I was looking into adoption. I was. Silent on that in the public sphere, facebook, social media, most of my friends did not know. People that knew were people like bosses that might need to know because you got to be off for this, that, and the other thing. And so maybe my boss knew. My friends that did my recommendations knew, which was only like three or four, and my family knew, but really no one new. And so I didn't want to put it on Front Street and be like, anne, can you please give me some money for it to adoption, please? I didn't want to do that. And I said, okay, I'm going to figure out a way to make this happen. And I found $20,000 in grant money. I was shocked. But what I tell people and that apparently was unusual for me to be able to get that amount of grant money from five I had five different grant organizations that amassed to $20,000. But I just kept telling the truth about my story. I'm a single black woman. I've gone through fertility challenges. I've gone through some reproductive health issues. I've had some other terrible things that happen in the past few years, and still I want to be a mom. Can you help make that happen? Like, this is the truth. This is my story. And I didn't like, miss words in those personal essays. I just put it all out there. What should I put in my personal essay? Everything. Okay. Everything that you think matters, put it in the personal essay, because that is going to be the thing that stands between you and somebody else getting the $5,000 or the $10,000. And so money just started coming back into me. I said, see, God has a purpose. My funds had dwindled, and somehow, some way, here they come back again. The funds that I needed to have for this adoption. And so I was able to pay for stuff. Nobody was the wiser. Check going out to agencies and adoption consultants and lawyers and lawyers and their fees. I had to have two lawyers, one in my home state, one in her state, and it got to be really costly. But I was so thankful that I had that grant money. And then I started sharing with other women about these grants, and other people that I sent to these grant agencies also were able to receive funds. [00:30:14] Speaker A: I'm going to ask you to send me the link to some of those grant agencies, and I'll put them in the show notes. But let's talk about your experience with your agency first. How did you find your agency? How did you that you had found your agency? And then talk a little bit about that experience. [00:30:30] Speaker B: Well, I mean, long story short, I was looking for somebody, some group of people that had worked with single black women. I was really upfront about it. I called people like I was interviewing them. Have you worked with any single black women that have had successful adoption can't remember. Okay, thank you. Move on. Until I finally found this group of women who own the consultancy group here, and I asked the same question, and they go, well, yes, we have worked with women in your situation. And the other thing that I liked about them is that they were straight to the point. They're the ones who said, $45,000 no less is what you need, and this is why. And they went through all the different stuff with me. They were really straight to the point. I said, well, is anybody even going to want a single black woman to be the parent of their child? Most of the time, they're looking for families with couples, and they said, yes, a good amount of women are looking for families that are in couples. She said, but it only takes one it only takes one birth mother to look at you and say, you never know. She could want a single black mother to raise her child. And you need to be there like, you don't know. And so because they were straight to the point before, I felt like because I thought they had worked with women who looked like me, I went forward with them, and they told me it's going to be 18 months at least. Nobody's having babies during the pandemic, so it's going to be at least 18 months. Okay? So I started a side business. I started a business on the side. And we'll get to why I was like, really? I could have just waited on that, because from the time that I signed the paper with work with them to the time that I was matched was six months. Nowhere near 18 months. My daughter's 18 months now, so it was always six months. And I was like, oh, my God. As soon as I got put on one of these websites, and that took some effort, I had to wait for space. Another problem in this industry, I had to wait for space for a single black woman to be on this adoption profile website. Had to wait for space. They didn't want to have too many of us on the website. So finally, an opening came. I was like, okay, I need to be next. And knowing that there's some obvious racism issues going on with this, but I can't attack that right now. I need to be next. And there I was, next front and center on the website. And within two weeks of my profile being there, the woman who chose me saw my profile, contacted them, and said, I pick her. And she only picked me. She did not give herself any other choices. And they told me this version of the story I was told is that and we've encouraged her to not put all her eggs in one basket to try to find other families that she might want to adopt her child. But she wouldn't. She wouldn't. She only picked you. Okay. Later on, I find out from the birth mom, they were really being like, you should really look into more placed people. You should being a little bit more forceful than she liked about it. And all of those families did not look like her is what she told me. They did not look like her. They were white families. These were more likely couples. And she said to me, I wanted my baby raised by a black family. So it was almost like she didn't understand why they were telling her she needed to choose these other people. I already made my choice as her. And so that sort of undercurrent was happening. She had already made her choice for a single black mother. But here you are saying, pick these couples. Pick these white couples to be part of your group of choices. She wasn't having it. And so I appreciate her being steadfast about her choice and sticking with it, but it also begins to unravel this sort of I don't even know what to call it, but the narrative that. [00:34:49] Speaker A: They have around why black children are going to so many white families. That's why I asked you earlier. So how did you get invited to an adoption party? [00:34:58] Speaker B: Right? [00:34:58] Speaker A: Because are they not advertising to black families and black people that these events exist? [00:35:06] Speaker B: Right. [00:35:06] Speaker A: And so then that becomes part of a self fulfilling prophecy. Well, black people just don't show up. [00:35:12] Speaker B: Well, black people just don't know that it exists. Yeah, or you've got adoption professionals on the back end saying, hey, look at these other profiles. I chose this black woman over here. I don't choose anybody else. And it wasn't her fault that they didn't have many choices that looked like us on that website. That was something they created. So she picked from what they had to her, and that was me. Okay. [00:35:40] Speaker A: All right, so before we get to the end, I still have a few more questions. So I'm big on villages. What does your village look like? Who supports you? Who supports your family? [00:35:49] Speaker B: Well, let me be honest about this. A lot of people will say a lot of things before a child arrives. Oh, girl, call me anytime. I want to be a babysitter. Anything you need, anything you need, I'm going to be there. Okay? Surprise. Baby arrives. Baby arrives. And then you start asking people for this sort of or waiting for people to avail themselves. That really did not happen. Okay. So I did have a good group of people that did make themselves available to help me brought over food. These were like, some people that I did not expect. Right. One woman was an old coworker. She came, she heard I mean, she knew a little bit because she was my superior in a previous position, so she knew a little bit about my history, but she didn't know how far I had gone in the adoption process. But when she heard, she brought over food, she sent gifts. She made herself in a position of being helpful and celebrating me at the same time, which I did not expect that from her. Right? And then I had a mentor who was always like, joy, if you ever need a babysitter, if you ever need anything, contact me. She was true to her word. So she brought over food. She brought a blanket that had been passed down in her family. This I want to give to you. She'd come over here sometimes. I had another woman, mind you, none of these women looked like me. So want people to understand your village does not necessarily have to be all these people got to look like you. All these people you grew up with, your villages are the people who want to be present for you no matter what they look like. Right? No matter they could be 75 years old, and I'm 43, and they still part of the village. And so I had another woman say, okay, and she came over and watched the baby for a little while. So I've had these sort of village angels to make themselves available throughout the past 18 months. And then, of course, my family has been really supportive. My mom has really been supportive, my brother, my sister. But it is not lost on me that some of the women who said that they would be there, I have not heard from them. Yeah, okay. [00:38:15] Speaker A: And that is the honest truth. Some people, they really fret over living close to family, living close to what is your current support system. And it's just like but it's hard to tell someone until you've been there that those are probably not going to be the people who are going to be the most reliable parts of your village. [00:38:36] Speaker B: Right? [00:38:37] Speaker A: And so it's like, be open to potentially what the universe can bring into your space. So now that you're on the parenting side, how are you doing, and how's your daughter? [00:38:51] Speaker B: So I'm doing okay. The first year was hard. I got COVID during that period of time. I was lucky that she did not get COVID. But still, I was here with the baby all by myself, trying to take care of her during holiday time. This is Thanksgiving, Christmas time. But she's just been great, though, to see. Even though it's been hard, I finally had to decide to put her in daycare. I had had help here at my home for a year, but then after a year family support for that, I decided, okay, let's go ahead and put her in daycare, because I was working from home, and even though I had home health, it was still like, the baby's in the next room. But you can't help but to be like, let me go see what's going on. Are you supposed to be working? Let me just take some stress off myself, some stress off of my family. She needs to go to Daycare. And so she's been in daycare for maybe few months, three months as a total. So I put her in daycare around 13 months old, and she's been thriving there. And I remember another single mom of my choice when I was trying to be like, really? Should I have her in daycare? The whole time? This mom goes, you need a break, okay? Just do it, just do it. She will be okay. I'll put her in Daycare and she's been fine. Every time she'll come home with all these new songs that she's singing, new words, I'm like, Wait a minute, where do you get that from? [00:40:22] Speaker A: New phrases, new ways of saying things. And then you just look at them like, what's going on in your little world? [00:40:28] Speaker B: Wait a minute. Isn't it fun to see her evolve and to make connections with other mothers like me? Because before, a long time ago, when you're feeling like you're all by yourself, there's nobody else like you that's going through your to motherhood struggle. And then you come to a point where you're like, wow, there are women that actually are doing the same thing that I'm doing. Some of them have done the same things as far as Daycare. Some of them have had COVID, some of them have had other situations to come up, but still, they are happy about the choice that they made. This was not a choice that they just went in willy nilly and said, monday, they woke up and said they want to be a single mother by choice. And Tuesday, here come the child, right? [00:41:20] Speaker A: It is very thought out. Like, you have this detailed checklist, you've got a detailed plan. And so, yeah, well, currently my youngest is four, and as of last year, we started doing this thing like, Daycare will send videos and pictures of her day, and I would look at them. [00:41:39] Speaker B: And be like, oh, she's so cute. That's what happened during her day. [00:41:41] Speaker A: One day she caught me looking, and she's just like, well, Mommy, can I look at my day? And I was just like, yes. And so she looks at her day. I let her pick the pictures. She gets to pick three pictures, and she tells me about her day. She tells me about her friends. She tells me about what she was doing. She tells me what was fun, and she sings songs, and I'm just like, you're amazing. [00:42:03] Speaker B: Right? [00:42:03] Speaker A: And it's just like so that kind of gives you just insights into their little personalities. That's a real joy of my day. [00:42:14] Speaker B: Yeah, she's hilarious. She's so funny. She's always laughing. She does this thing where she closes her eyes and walks and runs across the room like, girl, you going to revisit this stuff. But I guess that's part of the fun to her weird little people. [00:42:29] Speaker A: Okay, two things I wanted to put a fine point on. You said back when you were talking about your daughter's delivery, you said that there are not many hospitals that do adoption. So are there special hospitals that do adoptions? [00:42:43] Speaker B: No. So what I meant by that was that particular hospital in that particular state and city had not done a lot of adoption at birth. So I don't really know what the percentage is of live birth where the birth mother and the adoptive family are there together. Sometimes it might be not the norm because they seem to be operating like it was not the norm. It just seems like it was just unusual for me to be that present in the room with her. I think most of the time the birth happens, the baby then comes out to the adoptive family, and then they go on off with their life. But I was literally in the room opposing the birth mother. We were in the same hallway. She was across from me. She'd come over, I'd go over to her place. She'd tell me she hates the hospital food. I say, yeah, girl. So we had a different kind of relationship, but I think that hospital had not had a lot of adoption, never mind an adoption between two people where we just everything was fine. [00:43:56] Speaker A: Okay, and then the other thing all right, you mentioned your adoption profile that the agency had an adoption profile website. Is that the norm? Like, you create a profile? And I always thought it was a paper profile kind of thing. [00:44:11] Speaker B: So I had consultants, and those consultants then had connections out in the nation, these attorneys, this agency, this advertising website, this group over here. And so they're looking all over the place for you. This website that I was eventually put on is a separate agency that had host a website with hopeful adoptive parents profiles on there, so whole bunch on there. And so, yes, the list books that you're talking about, yes, I had to do that. And that book was sent out to attorneys here, agencies, there somebody over here, social worker. So they were sent out to people. But then that actual adoption profile on that specific website was sort of another step, and that's what that agency for its clients. [00:45:06] Speaker A: Okay, well, joy, it's been a joy talking to you today. So where can my listeners find you? Or are there any tips and tricks you'd like to share about your experience? [00:45:18] Speaker B: I think the biggest thing is just don't take yourself out of the driver's seat. And I've said this before, I'm a big proponent of advocating for yourself and putting 1ft in front of the other. A lot of that stems from just believing that something is for you. So if something is for you, it's for you. Do not take yourself out of the driver's seat and just sort of give this process over to all the professional, all the advocates no, this is your journey, okay? And this is something that I need to be in front of. So that's the first thing that I like to tell people. The other thing that I think is always super important is having people to talk with. So my therapist is a very great sounding board for that. So finding someone that you can talk to before you start the process, during the process, and afterwards, having someone that can just sort of help you navigate all the different feelings that you're going to have and then mean finding different resources and community. So the different Facebook groups that I found for Single Mothers by Choice was very helpful to me. I didn't say much in the beginning. I sort of listened and watched and looked at people's stories, whatever. But also some of the websites that I ended up going to to find grants. So We Adopt Two is one of those granting agencies that specifically grants funds to families of color to do adoption because they realized that there was just not enough options for us specifically. And then there are other adoption agencies out there that I did granting agencies out there that I did work with. And I'll give those to you. You can put those in the show notes. But I did want to highlight We Adopt To because I really like the effort that they're putting into helping families that look like us to become the bigger family that they had dreamed of. And I guess that's probably it where people can find me. I'm always open to talking to people about their journeys, the different articles that I've written. I have another one coming out pretty soon here from a big New York paper. So it'll be out there soon and I probably will have even more people to find me, which is funny how people find you like they find you. One person found me at work. One person found me in my side gig. But my name is Easy. It's easy to find me. Joy Woodson. You just type it in. It's easy to find me, but I can be found at my I guess the most public way to find me is through my company with this piece, Love Soul. It's a side business I created in the past year. Piece like a puzzle piece. And it's very easy to find me there. I'm on social media when it relates to that company. And then just in general, I'm a government employee. Anybody can find me if they're really looking. I'm always there to be helpful and help people on this journey. And I've actually had a number of women to reach out to me that I've been glad that I've been able to give some advice. [00:48:22] Speaker A: Oh, well, thank you, Joy. It's been a joy catching up and getting more of the background details of your story. And there you have it, listeners. Thanks for listening. To Start to finish, Motherhood with Aisha if you want to keep the conversation going, follow start to finish motherhood on Instagram Gram. Email me at [email protected]. If you love this episode, please share it with anyone who's thinking of becoming a single mother by choice, anyone who's already parenting as a single mother by choice, and just looking for advice on navigating it all, or a friend or family member who's looking to support someone else's single mother by choice journey. Until next time. Bye now.

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