What color… is love? Think about that. What color is love? There could certainly be a lot of different answers on that. But if you give it some deep thought, perhaps you may conclude that love itself has NO color. It’s almost like asking what color is a hug… nursing the sick… crying tears of joy… or even adoption and fostering. Is there a color for any of those things?
Barry was raised by his grandmother, Cora, in the inner city of Richmond, Virginia. That began at the age of 4 after he was bounced from home to home in foster care. Barry, an African American, said he wound up with his grandmother after his parents made some very poor decisions. And those poor decisions all came back to affect him the most.
He waited most of his childhood expecting his parents to change and care enough about him to take him back in. But it just didn’t happen. He finally gave up on that notion when he was about 17. Fortunately, friends and other relatives had his back.
Barry used to keep journals. And one day during his adult life he started looking through them. One entry really caught his eye. He must’ve written it about the same time he gave up on his parents. He wrote that one day he would like to adopt a child. He realized he always had to take care of his younger sister, so adopting a child would kind of take on that same form.
When he moved out of his grandmother’s house in 2006, he got a place of his own. He also got a job that he worked at probably 50 hours a week. He began to wonder if that’s what life was all about… work and go home… work and go home… work and go home. Something clearly was missing in his life. And he needed to change that.
For one thing, he needed a new job. The one he had was just too much. So he started flipping through the pages of an unemployment guide newsletter. And there it was. It wasn’t a potential new job. Instead, it was an ad that said: “Become a Foster Parent Today.” One would have to be over 18 to do so, and Barry was 20. So he called and set up an interview to get things started. He got through the interview with flying colors and was passed on for training. The head of the agency really liked Barry but was totally honest with him; that she didn’t think a social worker would jump at the opportunity for a 20-year-old to watch a child. Barry said he completely understood and that he would be patient about things.
It wasn’t long after Barry completed the training that he got a call to foster a child. That lasted for about six months. Then he fostered another child for awhile. A few years passed without fostering anyone. Then Barry decided that he would only foster from an organization actually called FosterCare. This was at the website: adoptuskids.org. He set up his profile on adoptuskids.org and waited. Then it happened. Barry took in a young boy… and soon after, another one. And not long after that, Barry took in a 4-year-old boy. All of them were up for adoption. So Barry did just that. They can probably be viewed as not-your-typical adoptions. All of Barry’s boys… are white. He recalls his first foster adoption.
Says Barry: “I was convinced it was a black child… I didn’t have a reason to think any different. Imagine my surprise to see a white child sitting at the table! You could have bought me for two cents and still had change left over. I was internally panicking on the inside because I had no clue how to take care of a white child. At the time he was the first white child I had ever interacted with. In the end, I agreed to take him in. From there a bond grew… and even though I wasn’t the first pick at being his forever home, I was still able to be his father because in the end that’s what he wanted.”
And Barry says that being a father has been the most fulfilling thing in his life. He long ago decided not to let the stares and whispers get to him regarding their “colors.” that those people can choose to go ahead and live their own lives in their own miseries.
Says Barry: “A lot of people ask me will I ever adopt again, as of right now I say, no. But the future can be unpredictable. For right now, I pride myself on my advocacy in bringing awareness to children in Fostercare awaiting adoption. Helping numerous organizations in my area when needed. I’m not sure what the future holds for my sons. My hope is that they will grow up to be great men, loved men, successful men.”
If you’re thinking of fostering or adoption, be sure to check out the website mentioned earlier: adoptuskids.org.