Brian Dorsey holds the feet of his newborn son, Braylon Dorsey, shortly after his birth.
Photo provided by the Dorsey family
* The Michigan Chronicle captured snippets of Black family adoption stories in this two-part series for National Adoption Month. This is the final story in the series where we dive deeper and learn about how one moment 15 years ago changed this Metro Detroit family for a lifetime.
Husband and wife Novi residents Carla Dorsey, 51, and Brian Dorsey, 52, always knew in their hearts that they wanted to adopt a child, and so the warm, intuitive couple did so 10 years into their marriage.
“My husband and I met in college when we were dating and in envisioning our future we always… wanted to have that as part of our family story,” Carla Dorsey said, adding that they both had family members adopted and wanted to give their child a better life.
The couple later learned of health issues that prevented Carla from having natural children and so adoption became the only way.
“We didn’t have to have any type of transition emotionally,” Carla said. “We believe God placed this on our hearts…long ago.…we began to already love [our child].”
So, on Dec. 23, 2005, they adopted their three-hour old newborn son, Braylon Dorsey, who is now 14 years old.
“He was our Christmas baby,” Carla Dorsey said of their serendipitous meeting.
November is National Adoption Month. According to Ohio-based Specialized Alternatives for Families & Youth (SAFY), around 7 million Americans in the United States are adopted and more than one-third of Americans have considered adoption, although only two percent have actually adopted a child. Presently, according to SAFY, there are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. Another 135,000 children are adopted annually in the country. According to SAFY statistics for those in the child welfare system:
- Males far outnumber females
- Black children are disproportionately represented
- Over half are six years or older
- The average age of a child waiting for adoption is eight years old
- 29 percent of adopted children will spend at least three years in the foster care system
What spurred the couple to adopt was, when around 2005 they experienced tremendous loss in a six-week period of time where Carla’s father and grandmother both passed away.
“That was just yet another reminder of how short life is,” Carla said, adding that later that year her husband grew ill making numerous trips to the hospital through December from lupus flare-ups.
The now-Livonia based adoption agency, Forever Family, contacted Carla around that same timeframe informing her that their baby was soon ready to be adopted.
Carla learned that even though, typically, adopting a newborn can take a long time, when it comes to Black newborns, “the demand is not there,” she said, adding that she was shocked at how quickly she and her husband were able to adopt their son.
At 1:59 p.m. on Dec. 23 Braylon was born at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Ironically, around 1:50 p.m. that same day, Carla was on the side of the road with a flat tire trying to get to the same hospital to meet her husband–unbeknownst to her their soon-to-be son was about to make his debut.
“It was supposed to happen and meant to be orchestrated [that way],” she said, adding that she was crying and in emotional distress over the flat tire while miles down the road her son’s birth mother was in physical distress giving birth.
Their baby, who was born six weeks early, was four pounds and 15 ounces, and described by Carla as a “little fighter.”
“When we got to hold him, feel him, touch him–hear his little cries.…it was love at first sight,” Carla said.
Carla’s husband, Brian, said that while in the hospital going through his second bout with a lupus flare he learned of the good news.
“I was on the sixth floor of Henry Ford Hospital and got a call from my wife that a baby was born and is on the fourth floor of [the] hospital…I was shocked,” Brian said. “When my wife arrived, she got me into a wheelchair and we wheeled down to the fourth floor in a hurry.”
Brian said “Bray” was in an incubator and as he approached, his eyes gently opened.
Carla Dorsey, left, Brian Dorsey, center, and their son, Braylon Dorsey are all smiles in a family photo.
Photo provided by the Dorsey family
“From that day on, I had to confess that I will never say there is no such thing as love at first sight because I was completely in immediate love with him,” Brian said. “Once the nurse put him in my arms, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and started pledging my love and protection over him. One of my greatest days of life, even when I was completely sick, the Creator’s gift truly healed me I have never had another Lupus flare after his birth.”
Carla added that she encourages others to “trust your instinct” with the adoption process.
“Contrary to what may be out as a stereotype, African Americans are exceptional parents,” she said. “Biology is not what makes that connection for you. The love, values, and the vision you have for parenting and family [that] is what is going to push you to be exceptional.”
Carla added that Braylon has asked twice about connecting with his birth mother since being adopted. And when he graduates college he can make that connection if he wants to, she said.
“We set that boundary–you have to be mature enough to handle whatever that looks like,” she said, adding that they will walk on that journey with him if he goes.
One surprise about this adoption journey for Carla was how “instinctive” parenting came to the couple who are full of love for their only child.
“Like, we are all in,” she said.
All in for Brian means a journey on Black fatherhood, which he calls “the ultimate responsibility that the Creator can task one with.”
“Managing, monitoring, nurturing and developing His creation,” Brian said. “It is a humble honor. In these unpredictable times, Black fatherhood has also intensified my interest to protect him with constant information regarding the disregard for Black male humanity throughout the country.”
Brian added that while his worry for his protection and well-being will never cease, he tries his best to model success daily for his son.
“I want him to be able to identify success, not just in a career, but in his home life,” Brian said. “Success requires constant modeling of marriage, relationships, family, work, laughing, loving, praying, pride, competitiveness and honor. So, his manhood preparation requires a lot of observation for him and in-depth explanations for me, which often marries itself with a historical context of Black life in America.”
He added that what is most important is that he can think for himself.
“That he is not easily misled and can think critically about the decisions he makes and how it will affect his life. I also want him to be a hard worker in his studies, in his job, in his relationships. For his goals,” Brian said. “These are the things that allow him to build his own legacy and honorable name. Success in these areas will certainly make me proud.”
Read the first part of the adoption series here.