Excuse Me, May I Raise Your Child?

How the adoption industry fails women like me and you

Farai Chideya
ZORA
Published in
10 min readJul 8, 2019

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Illustration: Janice Chang

I’ve never been a mother, but I had a baby once.

I remember his insistent eyes, his gorgeous face, and the tenacious way he gummed my finger while I warmed a bottle of formula. Those joyfully exhausting then incalculably painful days came rushing back when I was reminded by a retailer’s email that it was “my” baby’s birthday. Except that I don’t have one because his mother decided six days after he was born that she wanted to raise her child.

She was well within the 30-day state-imposed legal limit on women changing their minds. On the day two poker-faced adoption agency social workers walked in to reclaim the boy, I wept enough tears to make my body a desert.

I want to tell you all about my experiences so anyone considering adoption does not make the same mistakes I did. But first, I have a proposition: I’d love to raise your child. You, the grandmother or auntie taking care of a child because the mother is no longer legally the parent and could not be available to her child. You, the pregnant woman looking to find a loving home for your baby. I can imagine all the reasons you want to keep kin close — but perhaps you or someone in your church or neighborhood would consider it?

On the day two poker-faced adoption agency social workers walked in to reclaim the boy, I wept enough tears to make my body a desert.

If you let me raise your child, who I would adopt and make my child, you will still be their family unless you choose not to be. I would prefer you to be if you can. What could I bring to your/our/my child? Well, I know how to cook. I’m good on them pots. Vegetarian curry — I got you. (My favorite includes butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms, roasted curry powder, and cashew cream.) Garlic roast chicken — I got you. Pickled okra? Cornbread? Moroccan tagine? I got you. I know how to grow my own food. I love to do and teach art and go hiking and kayaking. I understand the complex dynamics of race and class and will certainly aim to raise a child who knows this is part of our destiny and part of our survival.

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Farai Chideya
ZORA
Writer for

Radio show/podcast “Our Body Politic” @ farai.com/our-body-politic. Covered every Presidential election 1996–2020. Books include “The Episodic Career.”