February is Black History Month, as we all should know. This month is about celebrating Black Americans in U.S. history and how well they have contributed to our society as a whole. When I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, the only Black Americans I remember being taught about was George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman. But there are many other Black Americans who have left indelible fingerprints on how we live our lives today.


I am grateful that Black History Month has highlighted the long list of people we should be celebrating this month. Did you know there are some pretty famous people of color who were adopted? With that in mind, when women of color consider placing a baby for adoption, what are the things they should consider before they start working with an adoption agency?


Women Of Color Thinking About Adoption Need Answers Not Criticism


Despite what might be commonly understood in communities of color, women of color do place their babies for adoption. The numbers might actually surprise you, considering the general thoughts about adoption in their families and communities. For women of color considering adoption, this proves to add to the already existing stressors of making an adoption plan:


  • What will my family think?
  • What will my community think?
  • What about my child’s understanding of their heritage after they are adopted?


These are very real questions I hear from women of color who are considering placing a baby for adoption. And I understand where they are coming from. I have watched families pepper expecting moms with questions about adoption, especially if the baby is planning on being placed with a white family. The words from others in their community can be harsh. This leaves a lot of women who need to consider placing a baby for adoption feel as though they have no choice to make an adoption plan. They can either parent or be shunned by their families and communities.


What works best in these situations is not just telling her what others have done, but setting up conversations with a woman who looks like her, who has walked the road before. I can say everything she needs to hear, but there is nothing like someone who has been there before who can reassure her the journey does not have to look like the worst-case scenario.


Women Of Color Need Honesty From Adoption Professionals


There are fewer situations where it is so important to feel like you can trust those who are proposing to help you than when you are considering placing a baby for adoption. The natural inclination of all women who are considering adoption is to approach an adoption agency with skepticism. Even more so for women of color who are working with adoption agencies who, for the most part, are employing white women to help her. What we say and do and our ability to follow through is everything to her, especially if she is hesitant to trust in the first place.


One thing every women of color considering placing a baby for adoption needs to convey is her wishes for a future family for her child. If the ethnicity of the prospective adoptive family is important, she needs to say so. And it almost always will be of some importance. This is where the honesty part comes in for adoption professionals. It may be that eligible families with her cultural wishes and their desire for openness she is seeking do not line up. She needs to know that.


Discussing race and what to do if the ideal family and future openness do not line up needs to happen well in advance of the matching process. She will feel a whole lot better about the process if you are proactive in addressing what her wishes are and how they line up with what you can realistically offer. Don’t be afraid to discuss what will happen if the ideal family is not available. Is one member of the prospective adoptive parents being of her culture enough? Would she consider adoptive families who have adopted children of her culture and have good relationships with their birth families? Discuss, discuss, and discuss some more. She needs to be understood and she needs to know what you can provide.


Great Questions Women Of Color Can Ask Adoption Agencies


What are the things an expectant mom of color can ask an adoption agency she is considering to find out if they can meet her needs for the kind of family she is looking for for her child? I’m so glad you asked! How they respond will tell you everything you need to know about how they will go about fulfilling your needs for a family. Here are some questions you can ask to help you assess whether or not this is the right adoption agency for you:


How many families of color do you typically work with in a year?

How many children of color does your agency place in a year?

What is the ratio of children placed in transracial adoption versus placed in homes where parents have similar cultural backgrounds?

How does your agency prepare families to adopt children of another race or culture?

Can I talk to a Birth Mother who placed through you before who had similar needs?

What more do you think your agency could be doing to improve working with clients of color?


Another great tip: check out their website. Is it all pictures of white families? Your agency will feature photos of the kinds of clients they work with whether they realize it or not. If your adoption agency’s site looks too ‘white’, that should tell you something.


Where To Ask For Help If You Are Making An Adoption Plan


A woman armed with the right information is a force to be reckoned with. When you need answers to your most concerning questions about adoption, you should get them. Your agency of choice should be just as concerned about your concerns as you are. If not, you need another agency. It is as simple as that.