When Alvin decided to adopt, he wasn’t ready for response from his communities.
The LGBT community is no stranger to adoption and neither are Black people. But when a single Black, gay man adopts a boy, tongues begin to wag. May be not in the gay community but in the Black community, single men who adopt are given a side-eye. Snide comments are made and an additional squeeze of their own child’s hand are the ignorant reaction of a few too many. Unfortunately, homophobia is alive and well in the Black church and these sentiments are sometimes shared by non-church goers. They want to know, what’s up with this guy? Is he a pedophile? No. His name is Alvin and he is a Black, proud, gay, adoptive father of a seven-year old Black boy.
The first thing you notice about this father and son duo is their striking resemblance. Thus, the blessing of a same race adoption and one less issue in the life of an adopted child. A blessing because a family resemblance delays the public “adoption” conversation and a curse when trying to convince a young child that he is not actually biologically related to his adoptive parent. The latter conversation feels cruel at times but is necessary and promotes an even tighter bond.
In time, I learned that Alvin had adopted as a single parent. This desire to parent was brought home while attending a friend’s 40th birthday party in 2009. As the party dwindled and parents retrieved their children, Alvin realized that what was missing in his life was not a mate but a family. That night he hopped on the Internet and began his adoption journey. Thinking that an overseas adoption would be the easiest path for a single man, he researched options in India and China. Then, a cousin, who is a social worker in South Carolina, suggested that he adopt domestically. He was eager to do so, until he learned that in South Carolina, sibling sets could not be severed. Should he adopt through that state, Alvin would have had to adopt all of the children in a family. With plans to only adopt one child, he moved on. Alvin considered getting licensed through the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, until a friend told him about a Foster Family Adoption (“FFA”) agency in southern California that would be a good fit. Within one year, his dream of becoming a father was a reality.
Alvin’s decision to adopt was not made lightly. His family was not supportive. He had been financially supportive of relatives and they were suspicious that a child would interrupt his giving to them. Selfishness he did not expect but accepted as their problem. His family was further shocked to learn that he wanted to adopt a boy, aged 3-5 years. Given that he had a great eye for fashion, they assumed that he’d want a little girl. Alvin was not worried about his family, nor did he miss their approval. Having been raised by his mother and grandmother, Alvin was heavily influenced by his grandmother’s willingness to take in other people’s kids. “Sometimes, their parents would be gone for a whole week.” His grandmother felt it was her duty to help those families and Alvin has carried her legacy forward by adopting a child of his own. Though she died before meeting the boy, Alvin knows that she would have approved.
As with every adoption, birth parent visits are required. This was probably the most challenging aspect of the fost/adopt period for Alvin. As a southerner, he believes in family and was initially open to the birth family, but they were opposed to the adoption and worked against the process. And once Alvin received legal guardianship of his son, the visits stopped. In addition to their negative behavior, Alvin noticed that after each visit, his son seemed out of sorts. He would revert to screaming and lashing out and this could take up to two weeks to reverse. The boy had lived in five homes before being placed at age 2 ½ years with Alvin. That amount of transition coupled with an abusive maternal grandmother made parenting the toddler difficult. But Alvin did not give up. He made it clear to the boy, a child accustomed to being passed around, that he was his daddy and not going anywhere. Alvin’s consistency and love have tempered him.
While Alvin contemplates adopting a second child, he continues to defy stereotypes and his example as an advocate for single, Black LGBT adoption continues.
Be part of the conversation every day. Get The Good Men Project sent to you by email? Join our mailing list here.
Photo: Purple Sherbet Photography/Flickr