I'm a Black mom raising white kids through adoption and embryo donation. Here's how I want them to use their privilege.
- Sadie Sampson, 26, is a Black mom of three white kids in Houston.
- She's gained attention speaking about transracial adoption.
When my husband, Jarvis, and I were going through infertility treatments, my best friend asked if I would ever consider adoption. I said, of course, thinking it was a hypothetical. That's when my friend told me that her mom, who was a social-service worker, had a little boy who was in need of a home. He was just five days old.
The baby was white. My husband and I are Black, but I didn't think twice: I just wanted to parent. My husband had a moment of hesitation where he said, "I don't know anything about raising a white child." I reminded him that he didn't know anything about raising a child, period. It didn't matter if the baby was Black, white, pink, or purple. He put his nerves aside, and days later we were holding our son, Ezra.
Weeks later we posted Ezra's newborn photos on social media. Jarvis was wearing a shirt that would become our family motto. It read, "Families don't have to match." The post went viral. We're used to seeing transracial adoptive families, but most of them are white parents with Black children. I realized that we had an opportunity to educate people that there are also Black adoptive parents.
Growing our family through embryo donation
I was thrilled to be holding Ezra, but I knew we wanted more kids. Through social-media groups, I heard about embryo donation, which some people call embryo adoption. It's like adoption meets surrogacy: You carry an embryo that is someone else's biological child, but in the end, you raise the baby.
I wanted to experience pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, so adopting an embryo seemed like the perfect way to grow our family.
I didn't care at all about the race or ethnicity of our next child. But there was one thing that I wouldn't compromise on: I wanted an open relationship with the child's donor family. I know questions will come up, and I want my children to always have access to answers. Plus, we had a relationship with Ezra's biological parents and wanted the same for future children.
There are very few embryos from Black parents available for donation, and none of the Black donor families we encountered were open to a relationship. I wouldn't have ruled out an embryo from Black parents or preferred it — the race of my child truly didn't matter to me.
Growing our extended family
I turned to social media, posting on my pages and in groups that we were looking for donated embryos. We connected with one family that had embryos on ice for more than a decade, but I miscarried. In the next cycle, we transferred two embryos from another family who lived close to us in Houston. Seven months later our daughters, Journee and Destinee, were born.
The girls are one-quarter Mexican and three-quarters white. Their donor family and siblings live nearby and have become part of our family. They were at my baby shower and the girls' first birthday. We're still figuring out the details of this new family — like what the girls will call their donor family — but we know we're all in it together.
I decided to share our story to educate people
When Jarvis and I are out with our light-skinned children, we get ignorant questions. We're obviously a Black family, with white-presenting kids. Most often, people assume we're the kids' caregivers, not their parents.
It can be frustrating, but we've realized that we have an opportunity to teach people what we've learned: Families don't have to match.
My kids are being raised in Black culture. Their parents and grandparents are Black. Yet they'll move through life with white privilege. They'll never know the fear of being a Black person pulled over by police. My hope is that they will use their privilege to protect other Black people.
Jarvis and I get a lot of pushback for our family, including from people who think we should have chosen Black children. But we didn't go to a grocery store to pick our family off the shelf. We just wanted to be parents, and we took the opportunity as it came. It's worked out so perfectly that we know it was meant to be.
Follow Sadie on Instagram @sadiesadaz.
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