The Jones-Baldwin family from North Carolina have been fostering kids since 2015 but when they met Princeton, they just couldn't say goodbye.
Being a family is a lot more than being of one blood. And Keia Jones-Baldwin, a North Carolina-based therapist, and her husband Richard Baldwin are proving that by their actions.
The couple had always wanted kids. But they endured multiple miscarriages and multiple fertility treatments to no avail, according to Inspiremore.com. Then they heard an ad about becoming foster parents and it just clicked. In 2015, they began fostering kids and opened their home to six of them. Eventually, the couple adopted three.
Soon, they decided that they wanted to have a fourth child. Keia and Richard wanted an older child and didn't think they would be changing diapers but destiny had something else in mind. One day, Jones-Baldwin got a call. That changed her life and made her want to fight prejudices even more.
"My foster care supervisor called and said, ‘Is there any way you can go to the hospital and do skin-to-skin with a baby?'" Jones-Baldwin told TODAY Parents. She was ready to be out of the door to be there for this little child without a second thought. The baby was a boy named Princeton, who was born prematurely to a mother battling drug addiction. He weighed only one pound when he was born in 2017.
"I bonded with him so quickly," Jones-Baldwin revealed. "I started going there every day."
Children are beautiful and they can have us in their grips without even trying. When the baby boy was healthy enough to come out of the hospital, the Jones-Baldwin family was ready to take him in.
Princeton was a white boy and the Jones-Baldwin are black. Their older adopted children Zariyah, 15, Karleigh, 16, and Ayden, 8, who welcomed Princeton with open arms, are also multi-racial. Initially, he was supposed to stay for only three months with them as the couple fosters many kids, but they couldn't let him go. So, they eventually adopted him.
That has led to the family facing many an uncomfortable position, ranging from stares, rude comments, to people calling the cops on them claiming they kidnapped the child.
"We get a lot of stares," Jones-Baldwin said. "I’m frequently asked if I’m Princeton’s babysitter. ... I get, 'Why didn't you let him stay with a family of his own race?'"
This multicultural family is trying to fight this prejudice that family and love should mean you are of one color or have the same blood. "I don’t look at family as blood. I look at family as love,” she said. “When Princeton came into our lives, he came into our hearts. Love conquers all."
And, it's because of this love for him that his adoptive family has willingly gone through many difficult situations. On two occasions, people have assumed wrongly that they kidnapped the boy and called the cops without even trying to speak to them.
"We were vacationing in Tennessee and we went to do an old time, Western photo shoot," Jones-Baldwin told TODAY Parents. "The girl behind the camera would disappear and then come back. Finally she asked, ‘Is that your baby?’ I told her he was. Then she said, 'I just took picture of this baby with his family two weeks ago.'"
Just a few minutes later, police showed up and Princeton's mom had to produce a letter showing that he was in her custody and she had permission to take him for trips. In August 2019, she pulled up outside a home because of a flat tire. What happened to her next was disheartening. "I knocked on his door to explain why I was on his grass," she said. "He called the police and said I stole my car and the baby."
She says she is not bitter about the experience but she's trying to ensure that what she's done doesn't stay a taboo. With her social media platform, Raising Cultures, she tells people about her journey as a mother and the family of five is just adorable.