Richardro Baldwin and his wife, Keia Jones-Baldwin, desperately wanted to be parents. The couple, who resides in Kernersville, North Carolina, knew they wanted to build their family. Especially after Keia’s daughter, Zariyah, begged them for a sibling. But the couple faced heartbreak after heartbreak. They had multiple miscarriages and experienced failed attempts with infertility treatments. The journeys left them exhausted.
Richardro and Keia both have siblings and understood the importance of sibling bonds. However, they didn’t know where to turn to next. How could they build their family and give Zariyah the opportunity to love a brother or sister?
That’s when an advertisement on the radio changed everything. Keia was hanging out with her mother when she heard information about foster care. She wrote down the contact number and then asked her husband if he’d be interested in being a foster parent—and he said yes.
Keia, a therapist, and Ricardro, a police officer, began fostering in 2015. Since then, they’ve had six foster children in their care, two of whom became their sons.
They got the call to foster a three-year-old biracial boy named Ayden. Two years later, Ayden became their son. They also have legal guardianship of 16-year-old Karleigh, who is also biracial. And then came another call, for a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, newborn baby boy named Princeton.
Princeton is now two years old and the family recently finalized his adoption, making him a Jones-Baldwin forever. They announced his adoption on social media, making sure their family and friends knew their little guy was there to stay. First, they posted an adorable, celebratory video with a surprise ending.
But what happened next shocked Keia.
She posted several photos of their family wearing clever adoption t-shirts. Keia’s said “No Bump, still pumped!” Big sister Zariyah’s said, “I’m not changing diapers. #AdoptionDay.” Within hours of posting the pictures announcing their big, multiracial family, the pictures went viral.
What is it like being a black couple raising a white baby? Keia shared with Scary Mommy that there’s times when her family is at a store or dining in a restaurant, and they face interrogations from strangers. Keia has been asked if she’s Princeton’s babysitter, if she’s the kids’ Uber driver, and worst of all, if she kidnapped Princeton. Several times, strangers have flat-out asked her, “What are you doing with that white baby?”
There’s been times the person didn’t believe Keia and Richardro were Princeton’s foster parents, and the person called the police on the family. Ironically, Richardro is a police officer. Keia shared that in those situations, she waits for the police to arrive and in the meantime, makes sure to do what any mama does—protect her children.
A year ago, Keia was having vivid dreams where she heard two words—raising cultures.
She told Scary Mommy, “It’s as if God was talking to me.” Her mom encouraged her to write a book about their foster care and multiracial family journey, but Keia had another idea. She created a platform—appropriately named Raising Cultures—where she shares videos, photos, and resources.
There are over 400,000 children in the United States in foster care. If you’re considering becoming a foster parent, Keia wants you to know that it’s an emotional roller-coaster. Yes, there are joys, but there are also challenges. Becoming a foster parent is a process that includes a home study, background checks, interviews, and educational classes. And foster care isn’t an adoption program. The goal is to reunify the child with their biological parents. When that cannot happen, adoption becomes a possibility.
What is it like raising a multiracial family in 2019 America? Keia told Scary Mommy that her father used to tell her, “What starts at home goes abroad.”
This resonated with her and is a major part of how she and Richardro raise their children–planting seeds of good, no matter what is going on outside their home. They know that what they teach their kids now will bloom in the world tomorrow.
The slogan for Keia’s Raising Cultures platform is the essence of family–love is colorblind.