Black parents who adopted white twin boys have described how strangers accuse them of abducting their own children.
Jennifer McDuffie-Moore and husband Harry Moore initially fostered Brayden and Trevor, three, after they were separated at birth from their biological mother, who had a drug addiction.
The couple officially adopted the identical twins two years later and they joined their biological children Joy, 21, and Kourtney, 11, and their adoptive kids Keenan, 10, and Sanchez, eight, in the family home in Collingdale, Pennsylvania.
Jennifer, an early learning specialist and co-owner of a childcare program, and Harry, a mechanic, have described racist encounters they have experienced as the Black parents of white children.
One mother at a playground even threatened to call the police when the twins had a tantrum.
‘A month ago, we were playing at the playground and the twins didn’t want to go home,’ says Jennifer.
‘A lady had been watching us playing and when one of the twins had a tantrum she told me she was going to call the police.
‘I scooped the kids up and she thought I was stealing them. One of the twins said: “No, that’s my mom”. I don’t want to justify it because people should mind their own business.’
The couple, who started fostering in 2009, added that they have been pulled over by the police countless times while ferrying their large family around in a 12-seat minivan.
The couple first took in the twins for a weekend in July 2018 as respite care, when the twins were just three months old.
‘They were supposed to stay for a weekend and now they are here forever,’ says Jennifer.
‘They were born with a drug in their systems and so they are medically needy with developmental delays and speech and language issues.
‘Two days after we took them in for a weekend to give their foster carer a break, the agency asked if they could stay for good.’
The couple recalled another incident, five years ago, when a police officer interrogated them over two white foster girls who were in their van.
‘We were coming back from a family outing from Delaware and we got pulled over,’ Jennifer remembers.
‘We had our children and two little strawberry blonde girls who we were fostering with us and and the first thing the cops asked my husband was: “whose kids are those?” And he wasn’t kind about it.’
Harry adds: ‘He tried to say that the windows of our van were too dark and that’s why he pulled us over but we knew why he pulled us over.’
The couple first experienced the challenges of a transracial adoption when they adopted Keenan, who is also white, in 2016.
But they said that it was more intense adopting the twins in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘We often see transracial adoption done the other way – a white family adopting a Black child,’ says Jennifer.
‘Even doing the paperwork there are a lot of questions about our ability to foster children who are white. It took us 2,695 days to adopt Keenan because we are Black.
‘We have conversations about race all the time – in our home we talk about it, we know that everyone is different, you have to acknowledge it and not pretend to be colourblind.
‘Last year was crazy. We saw all these racially charged incidents happen and we had to have conversations with our children.’
The couple insisted that they would not let race affect their decision to give a home to children in need of one.
‘I knew what we were doing was the right thing to do,’ says Harry.
‘I try my best not to feed into any nonsense about what people are feeling or doing.
‘Don’t get me wrong, I hear little whispers and I get looks going to the supermarket and getting gas with the kids. But I’ve never paid attention to it or fed into it.’
Jennifer and Harry say they cannot imagine their family without Brayden and Trevor.
‘They are definitely are our sons,’ says Harry.
Jennifer adds: ‘People don’t realise that when children come to you in infancy, they have never known another mom or dad.
‘From the time they were three months, we’ve woken up to look after them and changed every diaper and attended to every boo boo.
‘We never tell the children what to call us, we let them label us – and Braydon and Trevor call us mommy and daddy.
‘Instead of scrutinising what color people are or their gender or their preferences, people should understand that love really does support a family.
‘There are so many kids out there without homes.’
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