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Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America

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In America, Mother = White That's what Nefertiti, a single African American woman, discovered when she decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system. Eager to finally join the motherhood ranks, Nefertiti was shocked when people started asking her why she wanted to adopt a "crack baby" or said that she would never be able to raise a B In America, Mother = White That's what Nefertiti, a single African American woman, discovered when she decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system. Eager to finally join the motherhood ranks, Nefertiti was shocked when people started asking her why she wanted to adopt a "crack baby" or said that she would never be able to raise a Black son on her own. She realized that American society saw motherhood through a white lens, and that there would be no easy understanding or acceptance of the kind of family she hoped to build. Motherhood So White is the story of Nefertiti's fight to create the family she always knew she was meant to have and the story of motherhood that all American families need now. In this unflinching account of her parenting journey, Nefertiti examines the history of adoption in the African American community, faces off against stereotypes of single, Black motherhood, and confronts the reality of raising children of color in racially charged, modern-day America. Honest, vulnerable, and uplifting, Motherhood So White reveals what Nefertiti knew all along―that the only requirement for a successful family is one raised with love.


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In America, Mother = White That's what Nefertiti, a single African American woman, discovered when she decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system. Eager to finally join the motherhood ranks, Nefertiti was shocked when people started asking her why she wanted to adopt a "crack baby" or said that she would never be able to raise a B In America, Mother = White That's what Nefertiti, a single African American woman, discovered when she decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system. Eager to finally join the motherhood ranks, Nefertiti was shocked when people started asking her why she wanted to adopt a "crack baby" or said that she would never be able to raise a Black son on her own. She realized that American society saw motherhood through a white lens, and that there would be no easy understanding or acceptance of the kind of family she hoped to build. Motherhood So White is the story of Nefertiti's fight to create the family she always knew she was meant to have and the story of motherhood that all American families need now. In this unflinching account of her parenting journey, Nefertiti examines the history of adoption in the African American community, faces off against stereotypes of single, Black motherhood, and confronts the reality of raising children of color in racially charged, modern-day America. Honest, vulnerable, and uplifting, Motherhood So White reveals what Nefertiti knew all along―that the only requirement for a successful family is one raised with love.

30 review for Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America

  1. 4 out of 5

    LaToya King

    I received a DIGITAL ADVANCE READER’S COPY of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I recently read a tweet that identified white privilege as everyone learning to empathize and cater to whiteness. Unfortunately, we live in a society that does just that; we teach people to empathize and cater to whiteness in fairytales (think Goldilocks), in religion (white Jesus), and even in parenting. As a mother of two, I have seen the lack of inclusivity in books on expecting I received a DIGITAL ADVANCE READER’S COPY of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I recently read a tweet that identified white privilege as everyone learning to empathize and cater to whiteness. Unfortunately, we live in a society that does just that; we teach people to empathize and cater to whiteness in fairytales (think Goldilocks), in religion (white Jesus), and even in parenting. As a mother of two, I have seen the lack of inclusivity in books on expecting, parenting, and living. In a realm that often discredits or neglects the stories of Blacks, let alone Black women, in walks Nefertiti Austin and Motherhood So White. The book enters as a memoir on Austin’s experience adopting as a single Black woman, and narrates the experience of parenting. I was immediately drawn into Austin’s experience as she narrates it as a mother after the devastating death of Trayvon Martin. I, too, found myself rocked by the murder of this young man as I realized that he could have been my son. Beginning her story here was a perfect hook; it grabbed me with the familiarity of the story and it made me go back to the intersectionality among myself, Sabrina Fulton, and Nefertiti Austin; we are (Black) mothers of Black boys. Austin narrates a tale sharing her longing for motherhood. She shares the celebrations and the critiques of her choice to become a mother. She examines her family dynamics and how they factored into her decision. Austin candidly shares the choices she has had to make to be intentional in raising a Black boy. Among her decisions are: who is family, who gets a say, what’s in a name, and when and how to explain adoption. Austin does what any mother has to do; she makes decisions to help her child thrive. While she includes social context, Austin shows that although parenting is always an affair of the heart, there are experiences unique to race. She frames the narrative so that it is not just diverse but inclusive. The book is a good read. It is both informational and relatable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andre

    A book that will be a useful resource for Black women considering adoption........ Wasn’t it Toni Morrison who said, “if you can’t find the book you want to read, it’s your responsibility to write it.” Well that is exactly what Nefertiti Austin has done. Wanting to be a mother, Nefertiti found scant resources and texts available centered around Black women adopting Black children. So this book details her journey to motherhood through adoption and discovery that white women are normalized and un A book that will be a useful resource for Black women considering adoption........ Wasn’t it Toni Morrison who said, “if you can’t find the book you want to read, it’s your responsibility to write it.” Well that is exactly what Nefertiti Austin has done. Wanting to be a mother, Nefertiti found scant resources and texts available centered around Black women adopting Black children. So this book details her journey to motherhood through adoption and discovery that white women are normalized and universalized around motherhood. It is a bit of surprise that Nefertiti was so taken aback by this. It’s no secret that white people occupy the default position in this society, so for her to be surprised and shocked that this also extends to motherhood is disconcerting. “Despite the long history of relationships between Black mammies, nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers for white children, our consistent erasure in parenting literature confirmed that mother in America would always be read as white.” She details her journey here to adopting a black boy. She is to be commended for that and often writes in such a way that says, ‘I should be celebrated’, though I’m not sure if that’s intentional. In any event, there is now, by her hand a text that will help walk others through the adoption process, while providing support and answers to a myriad of questions. “While Black adoption was common in my community, I was an outlier for wanting to adopt a child I did not know. I was also an outlier among whites for defying stereotypes around single, Black motherhood, but none of this was in writing.” Well now thanks to Nefertiti Austin there is something in writing and hopefully this will lead to others making the choice of adoption and providing a loving home to children, who are all deserving of such an opportunity. Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for an advanced DRC. Book drops Sept. 24, 2019

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway win! I devoured this book like it was a bag of mini Reese's Cups. Nefertiti Austin took the age old advice that "If you can't find the book you want to read, write it yourself" Nefertiti Austin was a single Black woman who had just adopted a sweet little black boy. Despite searching high and low she couldn't find a book written for or about black motherhood. And as far as books about adoption, it seemed as though only white people did that. Nefertiti was further shocked to he Giveaway win! I devoured this book like it was a bag of mini Reese's Cups. Nefertiti Austin took the age old advice that "If you can't find the book you want to read, write it yourself" Nefertiti Austin was a single Black woman who had just adopted a sweet little black boy. Despite searching high and low she couldn't find a book written for or about black motherhood. And as far as books about adoption, it seemed as though only white people did that. Nefertiti was further shocked to hear people ask her why she wanted to adopt a "crack baby". She realized that American society saw motherhood through a white lens and she set out to do her part to change that. I don't have kids and I don't want any either but I have so much respect mothers especially black mothers, because my mom was THE GREATEST MOTHER WHO EVER LIVED!( I'm sure your mom's okay too!). And I too have noticed how black mothers are treated in our society. Black woman in the United States die in childbirth or in pregnancy related incidents at a rate of over 3x that of white woman. A black child's behavior isn't viewed in the same light as a white child. A white child who shouts out an answer in class is seen as eager and energetic. But a black child who does the same thing is seen as aggressive, a problem. To butcher a Malcolm X quote "Black women are the most disrespected people in the world" But beautiful and smart women like Nefertiti Austin are trying to change that. READ THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This memoir of adoption and motherhood by Neferiti Austin also provides a much needed voice of black women adopting black children. She covers the process, dealing with birth families, dealing with new forms of mansplaining, and funny moments like teaching her son to pee standing up. I think the idea that unifies her experience with other experiences I've heard from adoptive parents is the importance of the community that emerges, which isn't always the people you had in your life bef This memoir of adoption and motherhood by Neferiti Austin also provides a much needed voice of black women adopting black children. She covers the process, dealing with birth families, dealing with new forms of mansplaining, and funny moments like teaching her son to pee standing up. I think the idea that unifies her experience with other experiences I've heard from adoptive parents is the importance of the community that emerges, which isn't always the people you had in your life before adopting. I had a copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley and it came out September 24, 2019.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stacie C

    I remember what it was like being pregnant with my son, flipping through the pages of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and preparing my house for a newborn. I was overwhelmed and excited. Motherhood hadn’t been a dream of mine, but with my husband I wanted an addition to my family. I didn’t gravitate towards books about motherhood having helped raise my two nephews and being around younger children throughout my life. It’s now after being a mother for eleven years, after knowing what it’s li I remember what it was like being pregnant with my son, flipping through the pages of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and preparing my house for a newborn. I was overwhelmed and excited. Motherhood hadn’t been a dream of mine, but with my husband I wanted an addition to my family. I didn’t gravitate towards books about motherhood having helped raise my two nephews and being around younger children throughout my life. It’s now after being a mother for eleven years, after knowing what it’s like to raise a Black child that I’ve gravitated towards stories of other Black mothers. This is a memoir outside of my realm. I don’t know what it’s like to adopt a child and what that experience entails. But the more Austin wrote about raising her Black son, who is only a year older than my own child, I felt a kinship. Nothing about being a mother is easy and raising a Black child adds a certain amount of stress that you wouldn’t understand unless you talked to their parents. I learned so much while reading this book and I am so glad that Austin was willing and able to put in to words her experience with adopting a child as a single Black woman. It’s an experience I don’t see in the mainstream anywhere. Austin, within the pages of this memoir, discusses her upbringing and how for various reasons her grandparents stepped in and unofficially adopted her and her younger brother. She expresses the loss she felt not having her parents in the home and the struggle to connect to her mother. She discusses the moment that she wanted to do adopt a child. And one of the most important things that she discusses is the reaction by her community to adopt a child not of her own family relation or kin. We don’t discuss enough how the political language used to describe Black mothers as “welfare queens” and their children as “crack babies” still lingers and affects the way people view adopting Black children, which results in so many Black children being left in foster care. It’s been years since I’ve watched “Losing Isaiah” and though I appreciate the performance of Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Lange, I’ll never be able to watch it again. It promotes too many negative stereotypes about Black women and uplifts white saviorism in a way that I can’t and won’t tolerate. Austin does her best to dispel those myths and discuss what it was really like to adopt. These notions have got to be dismantled if we want these children to have good homes. Learning from Austin how to navigate this system and successfully foster/adopt Black children will help so many people in similar situations. The honest truth is that motherhood has centered white women for far too long and it’s beyond time for that to change. Books like this will force that change to happen. We live in a time when Black women are lifting their voices and telling their stories. Austin’s addition to those voices helps promote further change. It’s important to read outside of your experience and the experiences only being promoted in the mainstream. I’ll happily recommend this book. Austin is a great writer who in these pages was able to express succinctly her life and journey to motherhood. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you Netgalley for this book in exchange for an honest review

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mandi Grasmeyer

    Laughed, cried, and learned so much from this book. So very grateful people like Nefertiti choose to share their stories! See full review at: http://mandigrasmeyer.com/book-review...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it. When Nefertiti Austin, a single African-American woman, decided she wanted to adopt a black baby boy out of the foster care system, she was unprepared for the fact that there is no place for black women in the “mommy wars.” Austin set off on her path without the ability to seek guidance f I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it. When Nefertiti Austin, a single African-American woman, decided she wanted to adopt a black baby boy out of the foster care system, she was unprepared for the fact that there is no place for black women in the “mommy wars.” Austin set off on her path without the ability to seek guidance from others who looked like her or shared her experience. She soon realized that she would not only have to navigate scepticism from the adoption community, who deal almost exclusively with white women but surprisingly, from her own family and friends as well. Motherhood So White is the story of Nefertiti’s fight to create the family she always knew she was meant to have and the story of motherhood that all American families need now. In this unflinching account of her parenting journey, Nefertiti examines the history of adoption in the African American community, faces off against stereotypes of single, black motherhood, and confronts the reality of raising children of colour in racially charged, modern-day America. The only great thing about chicken pox at age 52 (and being a super- speed reader) is you can easily read and review four+++ books a day..and this was an excellent book to have spent an hour or two (or many more on your side) with. This was a gritty, shocking read: I (as a white woman) had no idea this was going on in the USA. I had heard that in general black babies (and infants, and children, and tween-agers and teenagers: you get the drift...) are not adopted readily as most people seek out the "healthy white infant child" that never seems to be found amongst the plethora of mixed-race and coloured children in the system. I was adopted as well but my parents certainly didn't go through what Nefertiti went through: this is an amazing #bookcub worthy book - you may want to read it twice (as I am planning to do) as it is so shocking in its content that I am gladly adding it to my book club's roster of fall 2019 reads. PUT IT ON YOUR SEPTEMBER 2019 reading list, people!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    I read quite a few parenting books when I was pregnant with my first child back in 2013, but quickly found that most of them followed a strict pattern, centering the middle class white American woman. I ended up resorting to searching for more relatable (to me) motherhood blogs, and also writing my own stories, because I couldn’t see myself in a lot of the content I was reading, and/or it made me feel as if I were failing motherhood in some way. I can’t even imagine how much harder it must have I read quite a few parenting books when I was pregnant with my first child back in 2013, but quickly found that most of them followed a strict pattern, centering the middle class white American woman. I ended up resorting to searching for more relatable (to me) motherhood blogs, and also writing my own stories, because I couldn’t see myself in a lot of the content I was reading, and/or it made me feel as if I were failing motherhood in some way. I can’t even imagine how much harder it must have been for Nefertiti Austin when she started her motherhood journey a few years before I started mine. I can however imagine the constant frustration she must have felt in trying to find information that would be helpful to her own situation and coming up blank, even though you know full well that motherhood experiences exist in all shapes and forms. I’m so happy that Nefertiti Austin wrote her own story, for herself, and for all of us. First of all because motherhood is a unique path that has many intersections, and too many of them are erased (especially stories of Black motherhood). Secondly because we rarely read about Black women and adoption in the US (or elsewhere for that matter), and it is important for everyone to be able to find information that they identify with, but it is also important to be able to read information that helps us all to be better humans (and parents) in general. How can I learn to be a better parent if I only read stories that I relate to? In order to grow, and to help our children grow, we must be willing to learn about all types of experiences. Motherhood So White is beautifully written, and balances Nefertiti’s personal experiences growing up, and her journey as a single black woman through the Californian foster care system in order to adopt a little boy, with the stark realities of what it is like to navigate systems that are dominated by white supremacy. I love how honest she is about her journey into motherhood, how she juggles so many hats, and how she uses her own experience as a way to help others on their own journeys. I learnt so much from this book, especially about the importance of creating your own village, both for parent and child, and hope that it makes it onto all of the top 10 lists this year. These are the parenting stories that should be highlighted, the ones that we shouldn’t have to search for, the ones that are so much more true to life and reality than the ones that are too readily available. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance copy, and thanks to Nefertiti Austin for her beautiful, and necessary, memoir.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Advanced Reading Copies of Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin were provided to my library book club by the Book Club Cookbook through their Galley Match. Along with receiving copies of the book for all our regular book club members we also had a Skype visit with the author! Austin's experience as a single black woman adopting an African American boy inspired her to write her memoir. She discovered a dearth of books that spoke to her personal situation, as if motherhood and adopti Advanced Reading Copies of Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin were provided to my library book club by the Book Club Cookbook through their Galley Match. Along with receiving copies of the book for all our regular book club members we also had a Skype visit with the author! Austin's experience as a single black woman adopting an African American boy inspired her to write her memoir. She discovered a dearth of books that spoke to her personal situation, as if motherhood and adoption were white-only experiences. Austin addresses issues of systemic racism and stereotypes, the demands of California's adoption system, and the work and joy of raising a child as a single parent. The book club has immensely enjoyed talking to the authors of our book selections, both because the writers become 'real' and so we can ask questions. We learned that Austin's editor said her first draft was too impersonal, her second draft too revealing! That makes three drafts on the road to publication! Also that she changed names to protect people's privacy. Overall, our readers felt the book was educational and thought-provoking and thought Austin was delightful. Several readers 'loved' the book, one did not care for it. Several people also gained insight into the African American worldview and experience that was new to them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    Fills in a glaring gap in motherhood lit. Most parenting books are focused on cishet white women, far less are focused on adoption, and almost none are focused on Black women adopting Black babies, especially if they're male. Austin navigates a world in which her family seem baffled by her choice to adopt, male coworkers mansplain masculinity to her and seem doubtful she can raise a son in a way they approve of, she has to deal with her son's birth family, and she helps forge a community for her Fills in a glaring gap in motherhood lit. Most parenting books are focused on cishet white women, far less are focused on adoption, and almost none are focused on Black women adopting Black babies, especially if they're male. Austin navigates a world in which her family seem baffled by her choice to adopt, male coworkers mansplain masculinity to her and seem doubtful she can raise a son in a way they approve of, she has to deal with her son's birth family, and she helps forge a community for her son. She has a lot of stereotypes about Black babies in the system lobbed at her, even her own family is critical about both the baby she will be adopting and the baby's birth mother. This memoir is enlightening, uplifting, and features more than Austin's necessary voice, she includes several interviews with other Black women who have adopted Black babies.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    This book was recommended to me after I read All the Sweeter: Families Share Their Stories of Adopting from Foster Care by Jean Minton. Both books detail the experience of adopting through the U.S. Foster system, with a focus on California. However, Ms. Austin's book is a much more personal accounting of not only her journey into motherhood, but her own life story as a Black woman and the experiences that impacted her decision to adopt a Black boy from the foster system. As a white woman, This book was recommended to me after I read All the Sweeter: Families Share Their Stories of Adopting from Foster Care by Jean Minton. Both books detail the experience of adopting through the U.S. Foster system, with a focus on California. However, Ms. Austin's book is a much more personal accounting of not only her journey into motherhood, but her own life story as a Black woman and the experiences that impacted her decision to adopt a Black boy from the foster system. As a white woman, I found this book to be so informative and enlightening, as well as heartbreaking. I feel for Nefertiti's experiences as a young girl trying to find her way and figure out how she will define herself, as well as her struggles as a new mother looking for resources that can provide the information she seeks - and the frustration of not finding much of anything out there that represents her situation. I'm also extremely impressed by her determination and resourcefulness in building a support network that met her needs and allowed her to be the mother she wanted and knew she would be. As the exhausted mother of a toddler, I'm in awe. I also really appreciated her inclusion of some short case studies/interviews with other single Black women who had adopted children. I read this as her practicing what she preached and providing a much needed resource for other women who might be looking for the same resources she had been. Now they will be lucky enough to find this gem! Important reading for anyone interested in adopting from the foster system, as well as those (read: white people) striving to increase their own knowledge and understanding of Black culture and the impact of racism, implicit bias, prejudice, stereotypes on the decisions and actions Black parents take to provide their children with the best possible life.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

    When Nefertiti Austin set out to adopt, she searched for resources for single Black moms of adopted children. She wasn't surprised by the dearth of materials. But she was surprised when she couldn't even find race-neutral resources. Based on the total lack of narratives like hers, she sat down to write the memoir/resource the world was missing. Motherhood So White is such an important book, and it will be crucial to many mothers and children that don't see their experience reflected in media. Au When Nefertiti Austin set out to adopt, she searched for resources for single Black moms of adopted children. She wasn't surprised by the dearth of materials. But she was surprised when she couldn't even find race-neutral resources. Based on the total lack of narratives like hers, she sat down to write the memoir/resource the world was missing. Motherhood So White is such an important book, and it will be crucial to many mothers and children that don't see their experience reflected in media. Austin struck a great balance of her own experience, research, and examination of how society treats single Black mothers of adopted kids. Her story is engaging, eye-opening, and definitely worth a read. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kayo

    So informative. Great information if your looking to foster or adopt . Loved the realness. Like to know an update on authors life now. Nice book. Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Basma

    When I first saw the title I immediately requested an advanced copy because I realized out of all the books I read that deal with motherhood in any way; the experience of being a mother, of not being a mother, of choosing to be childfree, of choosing adoption..etc, non of the ones I read or the ones I am able to find and access as easily are written by Black or Brown women. I hope this books gets as hyped as the rest of the motherhood books because it deserves it. This book is about N When I first saw the title I immediately requested an advanced copy because I realized out of all the books I read that deal with motherhood in any way; the experience of being a mother, of not being a mother, of choosing to be childfree, of choosing adoption..etc, non of the ones I read or the ones I am able to find and access as easily are written by Black or Brown women. I hope this books gets as hyped as the rest of the motherhood books because it deserves it. This book is about Nefertiti Austin's journey to being a single mother adopting first a black boy from the foster system and later adopting a little girl. There's so much about Nefertiti's story, her experience, her upbringing and her support system that is so different from all the ones I read previously and I can see how important this is as a resource. It was interesting and informative. Nefertiti explains how when she was going through the process herself she barely found books or resources to fall back on and had to rely on her community and if she did find any it was 1-2 books and they still didn't cover the process she was going through exactly. There is so much to unpick from this book from the stories of single mothers, single black mothers, the foster system, the crack baby stereotypes, the school system, literature and the intersection of being black and a woman and what that entails within the black community. The introduction of this book was powerful. How can you teach a young kid about racism and police brutality and finding a balance between making him aware but not scaring him too much? How can you teach a young kid that wearing your hood is seen as a form of danger or that people will never believe you're as young as you say you are? It's scary and I can't image what that is like. Black and brown kids are getting taught what prejudice is, what systematic racism and privilege is from a very young age and that's scary but also very very important considering the current political climate. We all view parenting differently or could have different experiences and whether or not you are on board with how certain aspects are being handled or certain points of view, I think reading from different voices is vital. (I received a free e-book copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Austin sprinkles her touching personal story with interesting and relevant information about race, culture and parenting in America.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I absolutely hated this book. The author has such a huge chip on her shoulder. Instead of focusing on the universal experience of motherhood and the adoption process, the entire book was a racist rant. No thanks.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Viral

    Thanks to Sourcebooks for the ARC at BEA 2019, and to Nefertiti Austin for signing my copy! I really really loved this book. It was a powerful memoir from Austin about her childhood and journey into becoming a single adoptive parent, and seeing the inherent sexism, racism, and classism within the adoption system and community. Austin discusses at length how we have been conditioned to view motherhood as a white concept, something that is the domain of white women to dominate and that Thanks to Sourcebooks for the ARC at BEA 2019, and to Nefertiti Austin for signing my copy! I really really loved this book. It was a powerful memoir from Austin about her childhood and journey into becoming a single adoptive parent, and seeing the inherent sexism, racism, and classism within the adoption system and community. Austin discusses at length how we have been conditioned to view motherhood as a white concept, something that is the domain of white women to dominate and that black women are completely written out of the picture. Austin struggled with the common issues (how to answer the question of who their parents are) but also with issues that white families don't deal with (how to teach your child about racism and discrimination), and she notes how little resources there are for adoptive black mothers. She also notes the internal failings of her parents, who were borderline revolutionaries but were also not great parents. I found that to be an incredibly important passage, as someone who cares deeply about social justice activism but also has seen first hand how toxic an unhealthy household sphere can be on one's mental health, and who at least right now would like to be a parent one day (adoptive or biological). Overall, it was a phenomenal read. Highly recommend. Will redefine how you think about adoption in the U.S.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lara Lillibridge

    "Motherhood is so white and in need of a revolution." This memoir is situated in history, examining the effects of racism in Black families as well as telling one woman's story of becoming an adoptive single mama. It's an intelligent book—Austin is a US History college professor, and her book is incredibly nuanced—her story spans through generations in order to help us understand where we are today. But it's also heart-warming and funny. Austin educates through what feels like a very "Motherhood is so white and in need of a revolution." This memoir is situated in history, examining the effects of racism in Black families as well as telling one woman's story of becoming an adoptive single mama. It's an intelligent book—Austin is a US History college professor, and her book is incredibly nuanced—her story spans through generations in order to help us understand where we are today. But it's also heart-warming and funny. Austin educates through what feels like a very good, smart conversation. “Adopting a child I didn’t know was breaking code. White people did shit like that." Austin explains that while in-family adoptions are common, adopting "strangers" isn't part of her culture. She is 100% true to herself and makes no apologies. As she writes, “I wasn’t seeking permission, just giving them a heads-up that when I came through the door with a baby he would be mine and not some child I snatched from the mall.” (61) "Motherhood So White" fills a gaping hole in the Mothering literature, and is a call for publishers that we need more representation in literature, not just in the memoir and advice sections, but in picture books and children's lit as well. “How would I normalize his adoption journey if the available literature excluded us?” It's highly relatable to mothers everywhere, and I learned a lot about my own privilege. It's the start of an important conversation. Austin said it best, "All mothers, be they lesbian, heterosexual, Black, white,Asian, Latina, queer, transgender, nonbinary, or disabled have struggles, and we need to support each other. We each have the same dream of building better families,, and this is possible, as long as we recognize and respect each other."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    The description alone is rather racist (and also kinda sexist). Also couples have a better chance of adopting. And too many black women get an abortion (or 2).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    College history instructor Nefertiti Austin could not find a parenting book that spoke to her experience as the Black single mother of an adopted Black son. She writes, “[M]y quest for narratives about Black mothers would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but the white woman’s story would be told over and over.” Her book is not, however, primarily a manifesto or academic take examining this form of white centrality, though it certainly does do that. It is at heart a memoir, peppered wi College history instructor Nefertiti Austin could not find a parenting book that spoke to her experience as the Black single mother of an adopted Black son. She writes, “[M]y quest for narratives about Black mothers would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but the white woman’s story would be told over and over.” Her book is not, however, primarily a manifesto or academic take examining this form of white centrality, though it certainly does do that. It is at heart a memoir, peppered with historical and cultural knowledge, meant to fill the gap she identified and give Black women encouragement in deciding “how to curate a family.” In other words, "Motherhood So White" is not written for me, and every word of this review should be taken with a grain of that salt. That said, Austin also writes to “begin to bridge the racial divide that currently encapsulates motherhood.” She seeks to inform white mothers what it’s like to have the word “single” synonymized with “welfare” when you happen to be Black. What it’s like to tell your child “that no one would look at him and assume he was a train aficionado or catcher for the championship Cardinals. The opposite would be true. White people would see a Black boy and judge him according to their preconceived notions.” What it’s like to have white teachers call a boy “angry” whenever he “may have been frustrated or annoyed or irritated.” What it’s like to be denied affection and softness, inculcated into “a hypermasculine culture that would protect [an African American male] on the outside but slowly kill him on the inside.” Women like me need to be informed and reminded of these differences between the two experiences of motherhood, as well as our duty to “be aware of … privilege and seek to build community with all mothers, regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomics.” On the flip side, Austin seeks to remind us that “Black mothers have a lot of child-rearing experience and plenty to say about the state of preschool, family leave, healthcare, nutrition, bullying, video games, and our socioeconomically segregated school system.” If we can focus on these commonalities and “coalesce[] around even one of these issues, it would ease the emotional and financial burden of parenting we all experience,” she writes. It is undoubtedly a worthy endeavor. As for execution, Austin’s prose not infrequently disappoints, becoming repetitive at both the level of theme and detail. But it can sing too, especially when she reflects on her father: “He never kicked his drug habit and was hooked on heroin when he was murdered in 1991, a victim of his own misdeeds and Black men’s expendability in America.” Austin also nails her takedown of a CNN article: “Blake did what mainstream media typically did to communities of color: affixed a label and then left us holding a bag filled with scandalous statistics, half-truths, and self-loathing.” All told, "Motherhood So White" is both a worthwhile read and a valuable addition to the genre, even for those sitting outside the target audience. (Gail Cornwall is a former lawyer and public school teacher who now works as a stay-at-home mother and freelance writer in San Francisco.)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Author and activist Nefertiti Austin (ETERNITY, ABANDON) recounts her struggles in childhood and her victories as a determined black woman who chose to adopt two children, presenting revelations about the subtleties of institutional racism as it affects black mothers and their kids. Austin was raised for a time by her parents, both of whom battled with poverty and addiction. When those demons got the better of them, she and her brother were taken in by their grandparents in an arrange Author and activist Nefertiti Austin (ETERNITY, ABANDON) recounts her struggles in childhood and her victories as a determined black woman who chose to adopt two children, presenting revelations about the subtleties of institutional racism as it affects black mothers and their kids. Austin was raised for a time by her parents, both of whom battled with poverty and addiction. When those demons got the better of them, she and her brother were taken in by their grandparents in an arrangement that she cites as traditional among black families, “calling back to the multigenerational family unit of pre-colonial Africa” and extending into American life because of the many uncertainties and necessities forced on blacks in the years of sharecropping and northern migration. Austin was a bright child, and her grandparents had a stable life, but she never got over her ambivalence about marriage and motherhood imprinted by her relationship with her parents. In her 30s, finding no suitable mate, Austin made a study of formal adoption, discovering that it was less common among blacks because of the extended “family adoption” patterns. She then took classes and eventually connected with her first adopted child, a baby boy she named August. Raising August brought to light many racial stereotypes. Austin found repeated occasions when she had to remind the boy that, because of his skin color, he would be treated differently from others. It was a portentous era that included the headline murders of Trayvon Martin and other black men, and the election of America’s first black president. Austin clearly saw how much is taken for granted, and forgiven, for whites that would be condemned in a black person. For example, when Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter just happened to get pregnant, there was little comment in the press. Had that been one of the Obama daughters, Austin asserts, there would have been ruinous, race-tinged accusations. Austin adopted a daughter she named Cherish, and helped both children grapple with cultural limitations and expectations imposed on black people: August would be thought of as hypermasculine, Cherish would be vulnerable to racial and sexual microaggression. Both would be considered less attractive, less smart, “less everything.” Helping to prove to them that they are loved and lovable is the challenge she has readily accepted. Austin shares valuable lessons, not only about race and culture, but also about adoption in general, single-parent adoption, family cohesion, and the exhausting demands of mothering. MOTHERHOOD SO WHITE, with its exploration of three generations of black American family lore, comprises a sociological survey with threads leading to other significant issues. Most importantly, it can serve as an inspiration as well as a sagely considered advisory for anyone embarking on the path to adoption. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

  22. 4 out of 5

    April Harvey

    Thank you to #netgalley and Sourcebooks for the ARC. Wow!! This is such a new viewpoint on adoption and the ups and downs that come with it. I grew up as a biracial child in an all white family in a rural farming community in western PA. This was my mother's hometown and when we moved from DC to the family farm I quickly found out that everyone in town assumed that I was adopted. I grew up in that town from halfway through first grade straight through high school graduation and it nev Thank you to #netgalley and Sourcebooks for the ARC. Wow!! This is such a new viewpoint on adoption and the ups and downs that come with it. I grew up as a biracial child in an all white family in a rural farming community in western PA. This was my mother's hometown and when we moved from DC to the family farm I quickly found out that everyone in town assumed that I was adopted. I grew up in that town from halfway through first grade straight through high school graduation and it never failed that each year at least 3 times someone asked me what it was like to be adopted. I found this offensive because if I had been adopted I wouldn't have wanted to be seen as "different" from any other kid growing up with their family. I understood why people would naturally come to this conclusion since my little brother was white and we looked nothing alike and neither of us looked like our mother but understanding didn't make it hurt any less. I had always thought that I would someday adopt a Black child. In fact, wanted to adopt a couple of children from various ethnic backgrounds because I thought it would give them the opportunity to grow up appreciating all races and cultures. All children deserve the right to be happy, loved, and safe. Ms. Austin did exactly that. She noticed that throughout her life that in Black society we tend to unofficially adopt children from family members who can't take care of them or from friends or even sometimes neighbors. I have several friends who grew up with "sisters" or "cousins" who were not even actual family but were treated just as well as if they were. There is something beautiful about helping out these kids. Sometimes it really does "take a village" but it shouldn't matter what color your village is. The only thing that should matter is the well being of the child. It's true that there is an overwhelming amount of families (White) adopting Minority children. Ms. Austin adopting a little Black boy is something unique but it shouldn't be. She grew up as a minority in this country and all the negative that comes with it from time to time and there is something about being a Black person in the US that can't quite be passed on as effectively if you haven't lived that experience. I think it's a shame that people made Ms. Austin feel like she was doing something wrong. She is an amazing person and very brave to have written this book. It's available today for purchase and I think it is a beautifully written story that should be read by everyone, not just those looking to adopt or who have adopted.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Today's post is on Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin. It is 304 pages long and is published by Sourcebooks. The cover is white with a black mother and her child on the bottom left corner. The intended reader is someone who is interested in adoption, race, equality, and feminism in America. There is some mild foul language, no sex, and no violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead. From the back of the book- In America Today's post is on Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin. It is 304 pages long and is published by Sourcebooks. The cover is white with a black mother and her child on the bottom left corner. The intended reader is someone who is interested in adoption, race, equality, and feminism in America. There is some mild foul language, no sex, and no violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead. From the back of the book- In America, Mother = White That's what Nefertiti, a single African American woman, discovered when she decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system. Eager to finally join the motherhood ranks, Nefertiti was shocked when people started asking her why she wanted to adopt a "crack baby" or said that she would never be able to raise a Black son on her own. She realized that American society saw motherhood through a white lens, and that there would be no easy understanding or acceptance of the kind of family she hoped to build. Motherhood So White is the story of Nefertiti's fight to create the family she always knew she was meant to have and the story of motherhood that all American families need now. In this unflinching account of her parenting journey, Nefertiti examines the history of adoption in the African American community, faces off against stereotypes of single, Black motherhood, and confronts the reality of raising children of color in racially charged, modern-day America. Honest, vulnerable, and uplifting, Motherhood So White reveals what Nefertiti knew all along―that the only requirement for a successful family is one raised with love. Review- I really enjoyed this memoir. I found it moving, interesting, thought-provoking, well-written, and engaging with difficult topics excellently. I really cannot praise this book enough. Austin invites the reader into her life from her grandparents, parents, and her childhood then her adult life and then her children's. Austin is an excellent writer and she is very passionate about her topic. The chapters are short and that works well as I felt that Austin could talk about one thing like her parents or when she starting taking classes to be a foster parent and finish the thought per chapter as she builds a greater narrative of her life. Austin engages with race, gender, and personal expectations with grace and honesty that was refreshing and moving. If you like memoirs or are a fan of her other works then I highly recommend this memoir. I give this memoir a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given a copy of this book by a friend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This book could not have come at a better time. I have a friend going through the foster care/adoption process and I realized there was so little I knew about how it worked. Rather than constantly badgering her to explain it to me, I'm glad there is a book that can help do it for her - while also telling a compelling memoir of motherhood that is rarely available on shelves. Nefertiti is a singe, black woman who decided to adopt a black boy through foster care, something that is taboo in the blac This book could not have come at a better time. I have a friend going through the foster care/adoption process and I realized there was so little I knew about how it worked. Rather than constantly badgering her to explain it to me, I'm glad there is a book that can help do it for her - while also telling a compelling memoir of motherhood that is rarely available on shelves. Nefertiti is a singe, black woman who decided to adopt a black boy through foster care, something that is taboo in the black community and that there are few resources for. As she explains in the first chapter, she is a product of "black adoption" - in which her grandparents cared for her and her brother when their parents were unable to. I really enjoyed reading about choosing to be a mother and retaining an identity as an individual - Nefertiti continues to maintain a career and pursue interests, while juggling the complicated array of meetings, paperwork, and process that comes with foster care/adoption. This has been largely missing for me in memoirs of women that choose to have biological children - and the emphasis here is compassionate, thoughtful approach to having and raising children of color. There are several unique things about the storytelling, including interviews with other black adoptive mothers at the end of the book, which highlights the diverse experiences missing from the white, dominant narrative. Without spoiling the ending, I can see the reasons for why Austin decided to end the way she did, but I also found it to be abrupt and make the story feel more final than it is (as a true story!). There are several parts in which she goes into detail about navigating conversations about race and gender with her adoptive children that were really good examples of how they take place every day in homes for kids of color - and a good reminder that white privilege is defined by not having to have these conversations or think about race growing up. I would have loved to have even more tales of the challenges of everyday child rearing, although I think the vignettes selected were great. This sparked an interest for me in adoption (which has been on my mind for years), and for finding more memoirs of women that have gone through this process. Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Arzu (Bookish in Midlife)

    Motherhood So White, written by Nefertiti Austin, is a memoir about the journey of adopting her son August. The story starts with the all too common scenario of the broken African American household. Both of Nefertiti’s parents were in and out of her life and were never able to give her the unconditional love and stability that she and her brother needed. The siblings soon moved in with their grandparents and were given all the necessities that they needed. Although they were happy with their li Motherhood So White, written by Nefertiti Austin, is a memoir about the journey of adopting her son August. The story starts with the all too common scenario of the broken African American household. Both of Nefertiti’s parents were in and out of her life and were never able to give her the unconditional love and stability that she and her brother needed. The siblings soon moved in with their grandparents and were given all the necessities that they needed. Although they were happy with their living situation, Nefertiti still felt insecure. She worried about her parents coming back into their lives and often resented those who questioned or didn’t understand her living situation. She maintained relationships with her parents, all the while remaining with her grandparents. The strong forces that her grandparents were provided her with the foundation that she still lives by to this day. Having an unconventional home life in a way prepared her for Motherhood and the wants and desires she wanted for her own family. I found it interesting when she talks about the African American community when it comes to adoption. She is correct, the majority of times, children are sent to live with Grandparents. Aunts, Uncles, or other distant relatives. Usually, this is a “temporary” living condition until the parents can get back on their feet. Legal adoption doesn’t come into play, and the caregivers miss out on various programs and benefits that could be beneficial to them. Choosing to adopt is a life-changing decision for anyone. Becoming a Mother is something you learn along the way. When looking for resources to guide her through her new role, it was apparent the parenting books she found weren’t targeted towards women and children of color. This, in turn, inspired her to write this book. It is an excellent book read for women of all nationalities. Reading Motherhood So White will give you insight into other cultures and the challenges that are faced on a daily basis. There were reference materials included at the conclusion of the book, including interviews with other Mothers sharing their adoption stories.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Victoria B.

    I am very conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I appreciate her attempt to bridge the gap on the lack of mom books for Black families, especially those going through adoption. I think many of her thoughts are spot on (especially how too many people assume that adoptable Black children are "crack babies."), and I saw many similarities between the author's experiences and that which my siblings who adopted experienced - the difficulties within the legal process, the unexpected exhaustion o I am very conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I appreciate her attempt to bridge the gap on the lack of mom books for Black families, especially those going through adoption. I think many of her thoughts are spot on (especially how too many people assume that adoptable Black children are "crack babies."), and I saw many similarities between the author's experiences and that which my siblings who adopted experienced - the difficulties within the legal process, the unexpected exhaustion of this tiny bundle of energy, the litany of unknowns. On the other hand, I feel like the author is somewhat judgmental and stereotyping as she condemns others for being judgmental and stereotyping. She blames whites for the lack of representation in adoption literature: "...Black adoptive parents had to be responsible for documenting our own experiences; otherwise we wouldn't even exist in books and imaginations of white people." I get what she's saying, but if white people were to write what she proposes, they would be written through the lens of whiteness and privilege looking in on experiences that we can never fully understand, which would be a huge disservice. We would get it wrong, and there would be anger because we got it wrong. We can't speak for the Black community, nor should we. As women, as mothers, we should all support each other on our journey. Being a mother is hard, no matter how it goes (adoption, IVF, surrogacy, natural, MOMs, etc). I fully recognize that for some parents, they will have many more difficulties than I will in raising our children, and I think that the author does an excellent job of making that clear as well. This book is a thought-provoking, conversation starter for sure. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for my honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kat (Why Read)

    Do not judge single black mother, Nefertiti Austin, by first appearances. She is a successful businesswoman able to upgrade cars every other year. She rose up from a childhood filled with changing homes of toxic parents and their drug abuse. Nefertiti has never been married and doesn't rely on a man for income. She has children but has never given birth. When she decided she wanted to be a mother she pursued a nontraditional route and her journey is an inspiration. This book gave me the baby blu Do not judge single black mother, Nefertiti Austin, by first appearances. She is a successful businesswoman able to upgrade cars every other year. She rose up from a childhood filled with changing homes of toxic parents and their drug abuse. Nefertiti has never been married and doesn't rely on a man for income. She has children but has never given birth. When she decided she wanted to be a mother she pursued a nontraditional route and her journey is an inspiration. This book gave me the baby blues! It made me reflect on the prejudices and recognize the hypocrisy within my community regarding the adoption of complete strangers. It was an epiphany to realize that the practice of raising relatives within the African American community is a form of adoption and relevant (informal or not). This book redefines motherhood for me and brings me to tears to realize that it is obtainable. This book sheds light on the nuances of systematic biases and racism in non-fiction parenthood literature, the school system, foster system propaganda, the realities of the adoption system and the struggles of single motherhood. While reading this book transformed from an entertaining pastime to a highlighted, post-it noted study manual. I could relate to the author on so many levels and for once I feel that I have found a book written for me! As I now seek to embark on Motherhood in the non-traditional sense of In Vitro Fertilization, egg freezing, surrogacy, or adoption this work of art shall be on my hip and in my purse. I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I haven't finished so this isn't my final review, but a few things have stood out to me. First, I can totally relate to parts of her story. Not, of course, being a black adoptive single mother, but being an adoptive single mother. There is all sorts of representation of/for me; not so for the author. I can relate to getting THE CALL and the panic and unrest after it. I can relate to that feeling of "this is my child" immediately. So far, two big hmmmm moments for me have been the almo I haven't finished so this isn't my final review, but a few things have stood out to me. First, I can totally relate to parts of her story. Not, of course, being a black adoptive single mother, but being an adoptive single mother. There is all sorts of representation of/for me; not so for the author. I can relate to getting THE CALL and the panic and unrest after it. I can relate to that feeling of "this is my child" immediately. So far, two big hmmmm moments for me have been the almost instant changing of her son's name. (I didn't event think that was possible as a foster child until after legal adoption) I get it. I changed my daughter's name, although I didn't know the name her birth mother gave her until after I took her home. My now regret is wishing I'd kept her given name as part of the name I also gave her. The other big moment for me is when she decided to not have contact with her son's siblings. This hurt my heart and although a part of me understood the why, I'm having a hard time agreeing with it! She admits there is obvious love in their households but because where they live seems unsuitable for her, she's made this decision? This was my understanding. I have read that sometimes the connection with a sibling is more powerful for adoptive children than the connection with a parent. I just finished this chapter in the book so I'll be interested to see if this changes. Having said this, this is a very important book. Shining a light on not only black motherhood but black adoption (legal black adoption as well as "traditional" black adoption) is very much needed. Motherhood is very much looked through a white lens. We are often reminded that kids need to see themselves in books and tv and movies. Well, black mothers need to see themselves IN A POSITIVE WAY as well, not just through a stereotyped, racist lens. *Update:. I finished, and I enjoyed. She and kids, she adopted her son's sister, do have a relationship with some siblings. I still feel uneasy about the quick name changes. However, I believe the need for this type of book far outweighs any of MY personal feelings.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Olga Barnes

    Oh, how I loved this book! I don't even know where to start! I try to educate myself about the different ways that people experience life. I am an immigrant whose first language is not English. I am a single mother of two boys (not by choice). I am a public school employee which allows me just enough to support my family, There was a time in my life when I was a recipient of WIC and my child was on Title 19 insurance. I have never not have my own transportation or a place to live. So, that's the Oh, how I loved this book! I don't even know where to start! I try to educate myself about the different ways that people experience life. I am an immigrant whose first language is not English. I am a single mother of two boys (not by choice). I am a public school employee which allows me just enough to support my family, There was a time in my life when I was a recipient of WIC and my child was on Title 19 insurance. I have never not have my own transportation or a place to live. So, that's the lens I view the world through. But none of my own experiences help me understand the lives of people of color for I am white. No matter how many struggles I had to go through, I was never judged on the color of my skin and until not very long ago was completely oblivious to all sorts of hidden racism, assumptions and micro-aggressions happening all over. (Not to be confused with ignoring blatant racism that seems to have grown exponentially) This is why a book like Motherhood So White is so important, It gave me a window - a very necessary window into the world of black motherhood and, in this case, specifically single black female adopting a child that was not related to her. The book opened my eyes to so many things. I am grateful I was privileged to read an ARC of this book. I would highly recommend this book to males and females of all ages, races, cultures and walks of life.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I don't typically read memoirs, but I've been trying to branch out and read more books by and about women, especially women that have and are living lives that are different than mine. Nefertiti Austin's book fits that bill and then some. "Black mothers lived in a different America from white mothers." This entire book is a study in love. She found so few written examples of single black women adopting black children that they were not directly related to within the foster system that I don't typically read memoirs, but I've been trying to branch out and read more books by and about women, especially women that have and are living lives that are different than mine. Nefertiti Austin's book fits that bill and then some. "Black mothers lived in a different America from white mothers." This entire book is a study in love. She found so few written examples of single black women adopting black children that they were not directly related to within the foster system that she decided to write her own book, and it's enlightening, heartbreaking at times, educational, humorous, and ultimately a story about motherhood. She covers everything from trying to explain to her family why she wanted to adopt a black baby boy to intersectional feminism, from how there are little to no representation of people of color in children's books when it comes to explaining adoption to children and how almost all of Hollywood's representation of single motherhood is represented by white women. She closes her book with a message of inclusivity and love, about how no matter how you choose to adopt, you need to make sure that you're honoring your child's origins, and she's absolutely right. This was a wonderful read and I completely recommend it for anyone wanting to broaden their reading horizons, regardless of whether you're interested in adoption or not. It's an important read.

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