Single Black Women Choosing to Adopt

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.

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“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.

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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.

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Some single African-American women deal with another challenge: criticism for bringing another African-American child into a single-parent household.

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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.”

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