The challenges of life and building a family can bring the best or the worst out of people, but in this case, it was both. This episode follows the story of Keia Jones-Baldwin, a woman who showed substantial amounts of physical and emotional strength during tough times. After going through countless miscarriages, empty conversations with fertility specialists, and more failed experiences, Keia began to blame herself. It came to a point where Keia and her husband, Richard , decided that it was time to look at other family building options.
Hear how Keia and Richard navigated fertility treatments, surrogacy, foster to adopt, and a challenge they didn’t think they’d encounter – the experience around a transracial adoption. Keia opens up about her experience around having a Caucasian baby, the need to educate others, and one universal theme of, “you don’t need to look alike to love alike.”
Guest: Keia Jones-Baldwin, Clinical Therapist and Life Coach
Host: Selena Campbell , Progyny
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Here are some highlights from this episode:
The Emotional Rollercoaster
4:05 – 5:29
Keia Jones-Baldwin: We have had several miscarriages. The first one we understood that it is normal, it happens, and we should try again and not worry about it. Then another miscarriage happened, following that miscarriage another happened and then another. I realized and knew this was not normal, something is going on. Our doctor at the time decided to send us to a fertility specialist and we started talking from there about the miscarriages. Of course, like many other women, I would blame myself and my husband would blame himself. We had gotten tested, and everything was fine on both of our ends. I kept asking myself “What is going on”? We had a multitude of tests including genealogy testing but nothing really came back to give us any answer that we were always looking for. We believed that if we could just find out what the problem is we could fix it. When everything just kept coming back, we ended up with more questions and no answers. We just began to get really hopeless.
Confusion Turns to Anger
5:50 – 6:54
Keia Jones-Baldwin: It became very, very hard. I started to think that my husband is not going to stay, and he wants more children. I did not see another option. I became very depressed and bitter to the point where I really did not think that we were going to make it and it was just the way that I was feeling. I started really pushing my feelings off on to my husband, despite what he was saying. He would always say how it is okay and he told me he loved me, and we were going to get through this. In my mind, I did not hear that I was just angry, and, in a way, I wanted him to be upset, and I wanted him to be angry, like I was, and it just did not equate that way for him.
9:18 – 10:38
Keia Jones-Baldwin: A friend of ours had offered to talk to the doctor and move forward with surrogacy for us and we were so excited. When we got to the process, she found out she was pregnant. After that I felt drained, and I felt like I’m just not meant to have any more children. This is when I hit rock bottom. I had experienced the miscarriages, the failed IVF attempts, and now the failed surrogacy. I am done. I did not want to give up and say those words for so long, because I felt like I had to keep trying, because my husband did not have any biological children. But my body and my mind were done. I was just broken, and I needed to distance myself from all of it.
An Awful Misconception
20:01 – 20:52
Keia Jones-Baldwin: My husband and I were the only African American family with a White child at the time in our fostering class, but there are many Caucasian families with African American children. I was telling a story about us going to Tennessee, and a photographer who was taking pictures thought that we kidnapped our son. Everyone in the class was mortified when hearing this story and I was confused. I thought that we as a class dealt with the same issues, so it did not really matter. If you were a White family with Black or Brown children or Black family with White children, it is transracial adoption. I thought that we all dealt with the same things but everyone in the room expressed how awful that situation was for us. They were not experiencing the racism side of it where someone was assuming that we kidnapped the child or assuming that the child would be in a better place if they were adopted by their own race. At that point, it just opened my eyes. I know that this is the issue, and we must educate people.
It Was All Worth It
25:44 – 26:25
Keia Jones-Baldwin: I would not trade my children for any of the experiences we had to go through on this journey. For any one time that we had the police called on us, anytime we were interrupted in a restaurant while we were trying to eat, or people calling us racial slurs. I would never trade those experiences, my son, or any of my other adopted children.
Selena is a healthcare professional, currently working in the greater New York City area as the Manager of Member Services at Progyny. Selena is a graduate of Delaware State University and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Administration at Wilmington University. She has a passion for patient care and has over seven years of healthcare experience to include a children’s hospital to genetic testing facilities. Selena believes that “patients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As a New Jersey native, Selena enjoys all things “Jersey Shore”. She loves to travel, go to concerts, and spend time with her family.
Keia and her husband, Richard Baldwin a police officer, have been married for 10 years. They are
foster and adoptive parents from North Carolina and have four wonderful children – one biological 17-year-old AA daughter (Zariyah), and three adopted children, a 17-year-old biracial daughter (Karleigh), a 9-year-old biracial son (Ayden), and a 2-year-old Caucasian son (Princeton).
Keia and Richard became licensed foster parents after countless years of trying to grow their family and dealing with several miscarriages and failed IVF attempts. After hearing about foster care and the overwhelming statistics of children in need of loving families in their community, they decided to start the long, tedious, but rewarding process of becoming foster parents. When they initially got into foster care, they didn’t have the desire to adopt. However, when they were asked if they would consider becoming “foster to adopt” parents, they prayed about it and God said yes! Keia and Richard had no stipulations on what child they would open their home to that was in need of stability, care, encouragement, and love while their birth parents were working their plan of reunification.
When they got the call to foster a newborn baby, they had no prior knowledge that the baby was White. In foster care at times, the information a foster parent receives can be very limited. Keia and Richard agreed and upon arriving to the hospital to do skin to skin with the premature newborn, they learned he was a White child. Were they shocked? Yes, for about 2.5 seconds and then Keia laid him on her chest for skin to skin and the rest is history! The Jones-Baldwin family are a loving, caring, and full of shenanigans and they never take a day together for granted. Families don’t have to match, and you don’t have to look alike to love alike!
Music From This Episode:
Artist: Kai Engel
Track: Brand New World
Artist: Lee Rosevere
Track: Sad Miramba Planet
Track: Completely Lost
Artist: Rest You Sleeping Giant
Track: End of Winter
Artist: Doctor Turtle
Track: Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Wife