As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is Kimberly Holden's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
My daughter, who is six, I adopted in 2015. My son, who is four, I officially adopted in 2018.
Both of them are white. Yes, white.
Our story is no different from any other interracial adoptive families, but I'm happy to tell you how it happened. And please don't flood me with, "But that doesn't matter" or "You shouldn't explain anything to anyone." I understand that, ladies, thank you for the support. But I have gotten enough online ridicule to at least address it. Also, at the end of the day, people are going to have questions, which I don't mind (as long as they aren't rude). And I don't have to respond, but I want to...
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved children, which is why I became a foster mom in the first place. And over the years, I have fostered many children, black, white, whatever. It never mattered to me. I loved them all. With that, I've learned that there is no such thing as “preference" when it comes to a child; no wants. Fostering is only about wanting to help kids that need you—or at least it should be. So, despite what the world thinks, there is no catalog to flip through that allows us to choose who we share our love with, there is no option to build the child of my dreams, if there is a such thing.
When I first joined the foster system, of course on the intake paperwork, it is possible to specify certain demographics of a child, which at the time, I had only two asks: girls, ages 0-5. But what so many fail to understand, is ultimately, DCF and CPS doesn't care what you ask for.
Randomly one day, my phone rang; a lady was on the other end.
"Hi Kimberly, um, so, I'm looking at your paperwork, and um, I know you want only girls, but I have these little boys and...I need you."
And guess what? I didn't hesitate. Bring them to me.
I did not say, "No, I only want girls" or "I can't help, I only love and want black girls." I told her to bring me those babies because they needed me.
At the time, I lived in a town that was predominantly white and Puerto Rican so, I would never get calls about available kids in my town, most of them came from neighboring larger city, which had a greater need. So, these young boys came to me from one of those cities. This all changed shortly afterward when, my boys were adopted out and I received a call informing me that DCF would now be operating by regions. They sent me a map and told me I would be contacted when children were available from these newly specified areas, which, because I never received calls from before, I was skeptical about.
Lo and behold, one day my phone rang again.
I was at work, so I couldn't answer, but I recognized the number as a DCF number. I immediately ran to the bathroom to listen to the voicemail.
"Hi Kim, we have a young girl that we're looking to place in a home, please call me back, we want to place her today." I called back, didn't ask for a single detail, and told them I'll be home this evening waiting on her. Two hours later, the social worker was at my home. He drove past my house and because of it, I told him to park where he was and I would come outside to greet the both of them. It was a bit of a distance away, so when he walked up, it was only then that I began to notice that she was not black. Once again, never cared.
All I could think was, she is so cute and chubby!
I was so blown away by her that it never resonated that she was white. And to be honest with you, it was the social worker's reaction to me that caused me to calculate race in the equation at all. He was actually the one surprised by my race. As for me, I didn't have a care in the world. What was I going to do, tell him "no" because she was different than me?
I took my daughter in the house and we have been each other's heart ever since.
Welcoming Eddie To The Family
One day, I got a call from my social worker stating that I needed to sign additional paperwork for Lizzie's adoption, so we agreed to meet at my house that evening. Lizzie had just finished dinner, she was running around playing when she arrived. As soon as she sees Lizzie, she says, "You're getting so big! And guess what, you're a big sister!"
....excuse me, what?
Backtracking slightly, prior to adopting Lizzie, her biological mom wanted to meet me to ensure that she was going to a home that was good for her—which I obliged. I felt that if I was going to do this, I wanted the process to feel right, I wanted it to be a good situation. So, we met. In hindsight, her pregnancy makes sense: baggy clothes and large sweatshirts. She didn't want that child to be taken too. But you see, in DCF, when there's an open case going on, they're going to get involved anyway.
"Oh wow," I say.
"I know, she hides her pregnancy very well." Then, she looks at me and says, "We're gonna need you..."
All I could think about was the fact that he was a newborn and not having maternity leave at my job. I tell her and she says, "It's OK. I have a home for him to go to. But I have to ask you because you are a family home now, you have his sister. But if we ever need you, we'll give you a call." Which we both agreed to.
Three months later, I get a call saying, "Remember when we said Lizzie had a little brother? Well, Eddie is being removed from that home, and we need him in yours, can you take him?"
Immediately, I say, "Of course." And never questioned a soul.
A week later, we welcomed Eddie home.
Adjusting To YouTube + Criticism
OK, here's what you don't know about adoption through fostering when it comes to “race". The biological mother of my kids, is a Puerto Rican, Greek, and Cherokee woman. Because of this, despite the fact that they look lily white, my kids were considered minorities. Society has groomed us to believe that a minority (a word I despise) is us. But DCF smacks that label on anyone who has an ounce of ethnicity. My children arrived to me based on a simple word that determines my background. And my love for all kids, is why I kept them.
Never in a million years would I think that after all of this time, I would receive the amount of hate from strangers because of it. I started my YouTube channel to document our journey, and some of the comments I get are disheartening. I'm unaffected, but admittedly, I wonder how and why people think the way that they do—and the worst often comes from black people.
I have been called a coon, bed wench, Uncle Tom, and a "self-hating nigger." I've been accused of wanting to be white, which trust me, adopting two white kids is literally the last thing someone should do to "want to be white," simply because I am reminded that I'm black every single time I am in public with my children.
But more specifically, I want to directly address one of the most repetitive comments that I hear: "But Kimberly, there are way more black kids in foster care that need homes"
Ladies, I live in Connecticut, which is an overwhelmingly white state. Most of the kids in foster care in my state, guess what—are white! First is white, then Hispanic, and then black. You cannot adopt from a state you do not live in, so I opened my home to whomever needed me. That's A. And B, if there are more black kids in foster care that need homes, don't you think that's a problem in the community? You're mad at me about this?
The narrative must shift, there's so much we can do for society besides gripe about supporting any child. My kids are happy, they're flourishing, and most importantly they are loved. And they love me and my brown skin
I took the path that was laid out for me and I was unbiased to sharing my love to anyone, that's the only thing I'm accused of. And to anyone who thinks that how I adopted is wrong, I challenge you to open your home, and show me how to do it right.
Kimberly is currently raising awareness for adoption through foster care and she has a YouTube Channel documenting her family's journey. You can watch her full adoption video here and you can follow her on Instagram @_holden_it_down.
Feature image courtesy of Kimberly Holden