"Wendy Duren thought she did everything right. She broke off relationships with men who didn't want to settle down. She refused to get pregnant out of wedlock. She prayed for a child. Duren's yearning for motherhood was so palpable that her former fiancé once offered to father a child with her. But he warned her that he wasn't ready for marriage. "I get bored in relationships after a couple of years," he told her, she recalls. Those events could have caused some women to give up their dreams of motherhood. But Duren, a pharmaceutical saleswoman, didn't need a man to be a mom. At 37 years old, she decided to adopt.
"It's the best decision I could have made in my life," Duren says, two years later. She's now the mother of Madison, a 1-year-old daughter she raises in Canton, Michigan.
"People say I have never seen you so happy," she says, "but it's also the hardest thing I've ever done."
What's driving more single African-American women to adopt
Marriage and motherhood — it's the dream that begins in childhood for many women. Yet more African-American women are deciding to adopt instead of waiting for a husband, says Mardie Caldwell, founder of Lifetime Adoption, an adoption referral and support group in Penn Valley, California.
"We're seeing more and more single African-American women who are not finding men," Caldwell says. "There's a lack of qualified black men to get into relationships with."
The numbers are grim. According to the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, 45 percent of African-American women have never been married, compared with 23 percent of white women."
"Some single African-American women deal with another challenge: criticism for bringing another African-American child into a single-parent household.
Kaydra Fleming, a 37-year-old social worker in Arlington, Texas, is the mother of Zoey, an adopted eight-month-old girl whose biological mother was young and poor.
"Zoey was going to be born to a single black mother anyway," Fleming says. "At least she's being raised by a single black parent who was ready financially and emotionally to take care of her."
Yet there are some single African-American women who are not emotionally ready to adopt an African-American child who is too dark, some adoption agency officials say.
Fair-skinned or biracial children stand a better chance of being adopted by single black women than darker-skinned children, some adoption officials say.
"They'll say, 'I want a baby to look like a Snickers bar, not dark chocolate,' " Caldwell, founder of Lifetime Adoption, says about some prospective parents.
"I had a family who turned a baby down because it was too dark," she says. "They said the baby wouldn't look good in family photographs."