At just two-and-a-half years old, Avery is already a budding pun master. During story time, the smiley toddler (with a penchant for popsicles) flips a trite line in one of his favorite books from “anything is possible” to a much tastier and more hopeful, “anything is popsicle?!” dissolving both himself and his mom into fits of giggles. His moms, Taji and Jesse, feel so lucky that this is their new reality as a young family.
They always knew that they wanted to adopt, and were “in theory” on board with adoption through foster care, they were fearful of the unknowns of the foster care system. Like most budding parents, they were nervous about the unknowns of parenting and the foster care system, and knew that they wanted the support and guidance that a Resource Family Agency (RFA) like Allies for Every Child (Allies) could provide.
“By the time we were done with MAPP class, we were as ready as we were going to be,” Taji said. “I don’t think you’re ever fully 1000 percent ready, but we knew that we had the support behind us.”
After completing the certification process to become foster parents through Allies, Taji and Jesse brought five-day-old Avery home from the hospital in 2016, transforming their whole world overnight.
Rachel, their Allies social worker, came to their house each week to help them quarterback the challenges of caring for a newborn. She encouraged them to utilize all the services available to support Avery’s healthy development, including infant stimulation, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, and was always just a phone call away to if the new parents ever needed it.
“We had friends do private adoptions that weren’t pushed to utilize the support,” Taji said. “We are so grateful that [Allies] had all of this available to us.”
Today, Avery is thriving. He keeps Taji and Jesse on their toes, literally, delighting in running up and down (and up and down) the hills and steps around LACMA or playing on the playground in the California sun. He loves to blow bubbles, ride scooters, and help out his mom Taji, an accomplished chef, in the kitchen – though despite Taji’s best attempt at promoting veggies, “he could live on pasta and waffles as far as he’s concerned.”
Taji and Jesse are cognizant and thoughtful about the implications transracial adoption, and the incredible importance for them to expand their circle to allow Avery to feel the representation that so many take for granted. They’ve joined playgroups for mixed race families, sought out representation in the books and media, and found support groups through social media to help them field their blind spots and intentionally put themselves in communities of color. They are already considering what schools and sports teams he will join in the future to ensure that he stays connected to the black community.
“It’s about so many little choices you make every day about how to give him as much representation as possible,” Taji said. “There’s been a great movement to have more books written about little girls that aren’t princesses, including little girls of color. But how many books for little kids are written about black boys? Not a lot. We’re always searching.”
When asked about how their lives have changed since becoming a family of three, both Taji and Jesse say that everything is just more fun now – exploring Los Angeles and beyond through the eyes of a child. Their advice to potential parents considering adoption through foster care: Get an RFA.
“We felt so lucky to have all the support.” Taji said.