John Blake, CNN, July 1, 2009
She broke off relationships with men who didn’t want to settle down. She refused to get pregnant out of wedlock. She prayed for a child.
“I get bored in relationships after a couple of years,” [one fiancee] told her, she recalls.
Those events could have caused some women to give up their dreams of motherhood. But Duren, a pharmaceutical saleswoman, didn’t need a man to be a mom. At 37 years old, she decided to adopt.
Marriage and motherhood–it’s the dream that begins in childhood for many women. Yet more African-American women are deciding to adopt instead of waiting for a husband, says Mardie Caldwell, founder of Lifetime Adoption, an adoption referral and support group in Penn Valley, California.
“We’re seeing more and more single African-American women who are not finding men,” Caldwell says. “There’s a lack of qualified black men to get into relationships with.”
The numbers are grim. According to the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 45 percent of African-American women have never been married, compared with 23 percent of white women.
Yet the decision to adopt isn’t just driven by the paucity of eligible African-American men, others say.
Toni Oliver, founder and CEO of Roots Adoption Agency in Atlanta, Georgia, says her agency sees more single African-American women adopting because of infertility issues.
Some of the infertility issues may be related to advancing age or health issues, she says. But the result of not being a mother for many older African-American women is the same: panic.
Some single African-American women deal with another challenge: criticism for bringing another African-American child into a single-parent household.
Yet there are some single African-American women who are not emotionally ready to adopt an African-American child who is too dark, some adoption agency officials say.
Fair-skinned or biracial children stand a better chance of being adopted by single black women than darker-skinned children, some adoption officials say.
“They’ll say, ‘I want a baby to look like a Snickers bar, not dark chocolate,'” Caldwell, founder of Lifetime Adoption, says about some prospective parents.
“I had a family who turned a baby down because it was too dark,” she says. “They said the baby wouldn’t look good in family photographs.”