By NICOLE McNEIL
My father was murdered when I was young—and it killed my spirit. It was my brother’s child, my nephew, who brought me back to life. When he was born, I knew for sure that true love, in its purest form, really exists. I mother him, and love him. Love him, and mother him. And many others in my life, too. Momma Bird is the name many of them have called me.
And now, finally, I’m going to be a mother. Somebody’s mother for real. To a child of my own.
My bundle of joy hasn’t arrived yet. And he is not in my belly. I found him in a book. He’s 12 years old—one of the most beautiful children I have ever seen. His eyes, shaped like almonds, sparkle like diamonds. Looking at his picture captivated me. And in an instant, I fell in love.
He is not the first child I’d considered adopting. I’d seen pictures of others and asked about them, but I was told those children needed two-parent homes. My hopes kept being dashed, but only briefly. I am resilient. I prayed, and waited, and got myself ready while I did. I even made a to-do list. A few things I decided I needed to do before becoming a mom:
• Travel out of the country at least three times
• Get my learner’s permit and license so I could drive legally
• Cut down on my shopping addiction
• Convert my walk-in closet, formally the dining room, back into a dining room.
(This list is just part of a list of things I want to do in my lifetime. It is not a “bucket list.” It grows and changes and sometimes I put it down for years, but it’s always in the back of my Bible should I need to review it or edit.)
As I checked items off my list, I worked hard on those required by the adoption agency. I completed the mandatory New York State Foster/Adoptive Care training classes in early November. My apartment will be certified at the end of this month. And I expect Lorenzo to arrive in late January/early February, just in time for my February 4th birthday. What a gift!
I am very excited about this transition in my life. It’s not what most people would expect from a 26-year-old single woman. Even I struggle with the idea of being a single mom. Mostly I struggle with other people wondering why I would want to adopt, rather than carry a baby in my own womb. To those I say that I do want to have a child naturally. As far as I know, I’m capable of this. But I would like to bring into this world a child created with a man God has designed for me, who is deserving of me, who will marry me, and be a good father to our children.
While I wait for this, though, I embrace the fact that there are many other ways to be a mother. And by adopting, I’m going to fill a need. Not only for myself, but for my son-to-be. He, and many more children like him, need parents—deserve grown-ups in their lives who will love and care for them unconditionally. There are so many children in the American foster care system who need this. How could anyone sit around doing nothing while they languish? Or continue to be abused? Forgotten? Discarded? Dogs are treated better than some children are right here in America.
I learned this by volunteering—speaking to teachers, parents, students, social workers, and prison inmates. And mostly, what I saw was that balance is missing in all-too-many homes. The stories all sounded the same: “I didn’t have a mother or father,” or, “My grandmother or auntie raised me,” and “They did the best they could do with what they had.” Some told me they were in foster care and group homes all their lives, and jail was the next step. They were being left behind—robbed of their future.
This compelled me to check out the New York State foster care/adoption website. It didn’t take me long to figure out that America is full of children who deserve, but don’t have, the tender loving care of parents, and the guidance and support of a family. And somewhere in the midst of it all, I prayed to God and asked Him for a little reassurance—to let me know that I was doing the right thing. And, just like that, I decided to give a child and permanent home. A family.
So many people ask me why I’m doing this. My answer is always, “why not?” Adopting my son-to-be is about responsibility, and growing up, and doing right by our brown babies—all of them, not just the ones we carry in our wombs.
I have been blessed to lead a really great life. And I can’t wait to share it with Lorenzo—my child.
Author’s Note: If you’re interested in adoption, check out your state’s government-run foster care agency. The National Association of Black Social Workers also has a list of private adoption agencies it says have successfully negotiated the adoptions of African American children. If adoption or foster care isn’t the right fit for you, consider being a mentor or volunteer. The National CARES Mentoring Movement is a great resource for finding mentees in your area.
About our MyBrownBaby contributor:
Nicole McNeil is a native of the South Bronx, enjoys traveling, and will have a brown baby of her own very, very soon.