With Guests Rhonda Y. Miller, JD, & Manda Aufochs Gillespie
Adopting a child of another race may be the thing to do in Hollywood, but two Caucasian women not in the celebrity spotlight – author Rhonda Y. Miller, JD, and Manda Aufochs Gillespie — speak from experience when they sing the praises of transracial adoption to Dr. Veronica in this week’s Wellness for the Real World.
Miller, author of Unveiling the Adoption Process: Seven Families’ Adventures & Insights, adopted an African American infant boy in 2008 after having two biological children, and Aufochs Gillespie, aka The Green Mama, grew up with an adopted African American brother. Dr. Veronica is no stranger to adoption. Not only was her mother adopted but the radio show host adopted a five-year-old boy after giving birth to two sons while in medical school and interning.
As Dr. Veronica points out, infertility is a major issue in the United States due to many women choosing to start families well after the peak child-bearing years of 18-28. Though advancement in medicine allows for women to give birth later in life, there are still 2.1 million infertile (unable to get pregnant for at least 12 consecutive months) married women between the ages of 15-44 in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Over one-third of Americans have considered adopting but no more than two percent have actually adopted, surveys show. Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock made headlines in April when she revealed she secretly adopted an African American infant boy born in New Orleans. She didn’t follow down the path of Angelina Jolie and Madonna, whose transracial adoptions involved children from other countries.
Miller says adoption was always in the back of her mind. After marrying at 28, what she calls later in life, she and her husband discussed the topic. Hearing about people waiting two to four years to adopt a Caucasian baby and watching a friend go through the adoption process for an African American child in six months for her first adoption and five weeks the second time, solidified their decision to adopt a biracial or African American child.
Now, with children aged two, three and four, she’s too busy trying to keep her eyes on them when in public to notice how she is received by others. Not that she’s concerned with talk behind her back or in front of her face.“There were so many children… (and) the only reason there wasn’t a lineup waiting for them was because of the color of the skin,” Miller says. “And that just broke my heart.”
“As harsh as this sounds, I don’t really care what other people think of me,” Miller says. “My goal is to please God and to live with love in my heart, to live according to His will. For people that are familiar with the Bible, there is a verse that says we are to take care of widows and orphans. That struck a lot. As a Christian, I know that I am adopted into his family.”
The most she’s gotten is a repairman coming to her home, seeing her African American son and asking if she runs a day care. But in public, there’s been no negative reaction or backlash from the African American community. One of her good friends, who is African American, supported her through the entire process. And the African American woman, whom she purchased her home from, sent her a nice note after receiving a family photo Christmas card.
Her semi-open adoption allowed her to meet the meet the birth mother of her son and the two can communicate via the attorney who handled the adoption. Miller sends photos and letters. There are also open and closed adoptions and laws vary by state. Open adoptions, which have become more common and allow for more contact to ease the transition, strike fear in some prospective adoptive parents who are afraid of birth parent involvement.
International adoptions have grown in popularity because they lessen the chance of birth parents coming back years later to try to reclaim the child and offer the availability of more infants with a shorter wait.
Miller says adoption fees can range from almost nothing if going through a foster system to $10,000-$15,000 for private, regardless of whether domestic or international. “No matter what the fees are, you’re not buying a baby,” she says emphatically, pointing out the overhead costs for attorneys, social workers, counselors, and marketers.
Miller’s biological children are learning what Aufochs Gillespie discovered at an early age. Aufochs Gillespie was three when her parents brought home Isaac, her African American brother. She also has a younger biological sister. Her parents divorced when she was young and her mother put herself through school. Growing up poor in the inner city surrounded by African Americans – and some Caucasians – issues relating to poverty and unfair housing arose but never skin color. When the family moved to a rural community that lacked diversity, race came into play.
One horrible memory that she turned into a positive occurred when she was seven. She was on a gondola ride at a fair, having the time of her life with her little brother. The two held hands, giddy over being alone on the ride. Boys approached in the opposite direction and screamed N-lover at her. Even at her tender age, she realized the hate of the N word.
“It set the seed of something that helped change me and my family in a way that I’m really, really glad to have been changed,” she told Dr. Veronica.
“I think my life was hugely expanded by having a multi-cultural family. I’ve always felt like, and still feel like I’m going through life like a white person with one eye that is brown. I’ve seen how I can walk into school late with my brother and they would excuse me but want to see his note.”
Having an African American member of the family member made everyone in her family want to protect Isaac more. “We loved him just that much more because we saw the way the world isn’t always equal,” she said.
She noted how people thought it was safe to say things to her not knowing she had an African American brother, and those who were aware and still made disparaging remarks. With her world view expanded, she began not to see color as a problem, but as a great gift.
“Being in a family with people of all sorts of different sorts of persuasions as I have been,” she says, “you begin to see that it is not about our color or our sex or how we identify the people we love or what we believe in spiritually. But that doesn’t mean the world won’t treat you differently.
“Multi-racial adoption is a huge gift to the kid because it’s a chance at life but the larger gift is a gift to the rest of the family I would not change for a second the world view that I have gotten, the love that I’ve gotten, what has come to me from that experience. It is the most amazing gift a family and a person can receive.”
Dr. Veronica applauds adoption on all levels, saying “children of the world deserve wonderful families.” But she encourages people to look next door.
“There are people who are suffering right here in the country who you can help greatly,” Dr. Veronica says, “and it can be a blessing to your family.”
Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.