Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mother. The first time I really considered adoption was when my mother told me that she had always wanted to adopt, but never did. It left me curious about adoption. I knew she ended up conceiving my brother and I, but what did it really mean to adopt a child? Why was she interested in adoption? As I committed much of my time in my teens and twenties to social entrepreneurship projects that took me around the world, I had the opportunity to meet families and children from all walks of life. I remember visiting an orphanage during one of my trips and seeing all of these innocent children filled with wonder and hope, with smiles across their faces, and I just felt a pit in my stomach. These children, like any other child, deserve the love of a parent, the warmth of home cooked food everyday, and the security of a strong roof over their heads. They deserve all the opportunity the world has to offer.
It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to adopt a child and provide them with all the love, warmth and security that they deserve to have. It was in that moment that I knew all children are the same, and deserve the same opportunities. In the end, they’re just looking for unconditional love and support.
When I returned from my trip, I started researching adoption. I learned that in the states, over 100,000 children go unadopted each year. These 100,000+ children remain in or end up in foster care. I truly believe in my heart that there is no reason these children should not be provided with warmth, security, love and opportunity.
When I met my husband, I talked to him about adoption. I was surprised to learn that he, too, always wanted to adopt. When I knew that we both had it on our hearts, I felt hopeful and excited. We also discussed having children biologically and knew that was also an option that we both wanted to consider. After much thought and discussion, we knew we wanted to have two kids: at least one would be adopted, and perhaps we would try to conceive the other.
I was 31 when I got married, had a myriad of chronic health issues, and knew that I needed to try to have children sooner rather than later to ensure a healthy pregnancy. As we started trying, we also started researching adoption. We knew that both processes could take awhile, and didn’t want to wait. After much research, we decided on adopting domestically vs. internationally. We both had it on our hearts to provide a child with a home in the country we were born and raised.
As we began the home study process for adoption in 2018 (process by which you become eligible to adopt in the states), we also experienced zero success in conceiving. I took a few months to grieve that process. To be honest, it made it slightly easier to come to terms with because I knew we had another path to become parents. We continued on the path of adoption and completed our home study in August of 2019. We were elated when we found out we were accepted into a local San Francisco based adoption agency in November 2019. This agency is providing us with assistance for outreach to birth mothers and completion of the adoption process. Two and a half years later, we are still in the process, but are hopeful our little one will come into our lives at the right time.
As I reflect on my journey to adopt thus far, it was (and still is) very hard to find resources and support groups specifically for womxn of color. I had joined a couple of support groups on Facebook, but none of them were specifically for womxn of color. As a first generation Indian-American, I wanted to talk to others who looked like me and came from similar backgrounds as me, and to find a community where I could share my journey without judgement. I was lucky that my parents and my husband’s parents were extremely accepting and supportive of our decision to adopt, but I still had some emotional conversations with them. Moreover, COVID has thrown this process for a loop. I am seeing and hearing that it has prolonged the process, and placement rates have dropped across the country. This journey is challenging, emotionally taxing, and ambiguous. Did others have easy conversations with their parents and extended families? Did their families support their decision to adopt? How long is it taking for others to adopt? How do they plan to raise their children? Will they also raise their children in a way that honors their child’s racial and ethnic background while also engaging them in their culture, heritage and community? How do we find areas to live in this country that provide the diversity our future child deserves? So many questions, and no community to turn to for answers or ideas.
As I started sharing my journey a bit more publicly on my blog’s social media platforms, I realized some of my followers and peers who were adopting or had adopted were searching for community, too. I knew I had to do something.
I finally decided to create the Adoption Support Group for Womxn of Color. This group will create a safe space to share adoption challenges, celebrations, ask questions and build community with no judgement. If you are a womxn of color and are seriously considering adoption, in the process of adopting, or already adopted, this community is for you and welcomes you with open arms! I am so excited to grow this community and finally have a space for adoptive parents of color to ask our questions, feel heard, and connect with each other. If you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram or contact me over e-mail. I look forward to connecting with you, and wish you all the best on your adoption journey.
Thank you Shivangi for so openly sharing your journey and creating a safe space for womxn of color to come together to share their stories in adoption.
Shivangi Rao is the founder of Raody Recipes, a food and wellness blog that provides accessible, healthy recipes and resources. Shivangi has multiple chronic illnesses and discovered the healing powers of food by listening to her body. She has found a way to blend her Indian heritage and culture with a modern and mindful approach to eating, and hopes her blog serves as a helpful tool for others who are looking to achieve their best health. Follow her at www.raodyrecipes and @raodyrecipes on Instagram.