not what Id originally imaginedbut I wouldnt have it any other way!
by Brenda B. Covert
If someone had told me years ago my future children wouldnt inherit
their grandfathers red hair or look a bit like my husband, Kevin, or I do, I would
have been stunned. After all, the thought I couldnt have Kevin, Jr. or little Brenda
never entered my mind.
But six years into our marriage, when I hadnt gotten pregnant, I
suffered bouts of anxiety and self-doubt. We were more than readyKevin had a solid
job as an accounting manager, while I worked in marketing for an electrical contractor.
What were we doing wrong? It seemed as though everyone else had a baby!
I have to admit, patience has never been one of my virtues. Ive
burned my mouth on pizza countless times because Im unable to wait for the cheese to
cool down. So when we decided to start a family and it wasnt happening, my
impatience kicked in. I had to have a baby, any babyand soon!
A local newspaper article about crack babies taken into protective custody
while their mothers underwent treatment caught my eyeand the idea of foster
parenting was born. I felt those children were orphans, and as Christians, we should heed
James 1:27 and look after themat least temporarily. Kevin, however, worried about
becoming attached to a baby wed later have to give up. It took him a month to
consider the idea, plus a special Sunday school lesson about unwanted children, before he
agreed foster parenting was something we could do.
After we spent three months filling out personal history forms, financial
statements, and taking child development classes, we were licensed by the Department of
Social Services for one child, either sex, any race, from newborn to age three. Before a
month went by, we got the call: A foster family was needed for an African-American baby
boy born addicted to drugs. He was waiting for us at the hospital.
We went to the hospital for CPR training, something all foster parents are
required to have before they can leave the premises with a newborn. Like two kids at
Christmas, Kevin and I asked if we could please peek at "our" baby. The
nurse led us into a room where the babies lay sleeping in a row. All, that is, except a
curly-headed infant at the far end, whose liquid brown eyes were wide open.
"Would you like to hold him?" the nurse asked me.
I could scarcely breathe. I trembled with excitement as she gently picked
him up and placed him in my arms. It was amazing. The baby trusted me completely. He
It didnt take long for me to fall in love with Barron, my bouncing,
brown-skinned boy. I was finally somebodys mom! It was a wonderful, scary,
exhausting, delightful feeling.
Assuming the birth family was taking the necessary steps to reclaim
Barron, I cried every time I imagined giving him up. I prayed God would always protect
Barron and allow him to be raised in a Christian family. I thought it would be selfish to
ask for more.
When Barron was 10 months old, a caseworker approached Kevin with an
announcement: They had a little girl for us! Kevin thought taking another baby would help
to distract us from the agony and suspense of not knowing our foster sons future.
"But well have twice as many dirty diapers!" I
"We can handle that," he said.
"Have you forgotten the midnight feedings? And how crabby I
"Ill do my best to help," Kevin said calmly. "I did
We went to the hospital to see the baby. She looked like a fragile kitten.
Not only had she been exposed to drugs and alcohol, but Jasmine was also premature. By the
time we met her, she was 6 weeks old and had grown to a "whopping" 4 pounds, 10
ounces. She was of black or biracial heritage, and her father was unknown. We took Jasmine
home with us.
I tried not to dwell on what it would be like to be separated from Barron
and Jasmine. After all, neither was yet adoptable, and we werent sure adoption was
part of Gods plan for us. Kevin and I still harbored hope I would become pregnant,
but we enrolled in an adoption class "just in case."
Since we didnt know any other interracial families, we wondered how
Barron and Jasmine would feel, as they grew older if we adopted them. I decided to
research the success of interracial adoptions and discovered mixed adoptions share the
same success rate at producing well-adjusted, happy families75 percentas
same-race adoptions. Then I read a May 1991 study by Harvard Professor Elizabeth Bartolet
entitled, "Where Do Black Children Belong? The Politics of Race Matching in
Adoption," which drew a balanced, positive picture of such adoptions. Finally, we
received encouragement from our circle of Christian friends, whose feelings mirrored ours
as well as those of author Christine Moriarty Field, who in her most recent book, Should
You Adopt? says, "I believe children need parents who love, understand, and
accept them, no matter what their color or background."
Armed with this encouragement and a serenity that came from God, we bowed
to the wisdom of Psalm 27:14"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and
wait for the LORD."
Shortly before Barron turned two in 1993, I received a phone call at work
from his caseworker. In a stunning turn of events, Barrons birthparents signed
relinquishment papers, freeing him for adoption. After I picked myself off the floor, I
shut my office door and called Kevin, tears of shock mingling with joy. When he answered,
he heard my sobbing and suspected the worst.
"Honey, whats wrong?" he asked, panic lacing his voice.
"Did you get fired? Has there been an accident?"
I choked out the news, laughed about my tearful reaction, and mopped my
face with a tissue. Outside my door, coworkers wondered what misfortune had befallen me.
Soon, everyone knew our good news. I didnt get much work done that afternoon!
Jasmines birthmother signed relinquishment papers a few months
later. Finally, Gods plan for our family was clear. When the adoptions were
finalized, we embraced the children as our own.
Weve had nothing but positive reactions to bringing Barron, now
seven, and Jasmine, six, into our family. We belong to a support group called GIFT, which
stands for Guiding Interracial Families Together; its made up of Christian families
that look like ours. GIFT offers activities such as zoo trips, potluck dinners, and
holiday parties, and we try to join the fun whenever possible.
Kevin and I now run a limousine service from our home; this arrangement
allows me to homeschool Barron and Jasmine, and Kevin to spend more time with them.
Weve seen Barron ask Jesus into his heart in the spring of 1996, and Jasmine has
since done the same.
For the past year, weve been raising a foster baby whose face lights
up at the sight of Jasmine and Barron. He couldnt ask for a better big brother or
sister! Our calendars filled with field trips, music lessons, gymnastics, ice-skating, and
church activities. Not surprisingly, Jasmines first question every morning is,
"Where are we going today?"
Acknowledging Barron and Jasmines racial heritage is important to
us. For Homeschoolers International Day this past March, we studied Kenya and put together
a display using some of the African carvings weve collected. We also take them to a
salon that specializes in black hair care. Its another way to acknowledge their
race, plus it puts Kevin and me in the minority for a change!
Many African Americans in our community have extended a friendly hand, and
weve been blessed with several honorary "grandpas" and "uncles"
who are part of Barron and Jasmines lives. My children know theyre black,
theyre adopted, and that well love them forever.
While this wasnt the vision of family with which I grew up, today I
cant imagine life without our two little blessings.