Keia Jones-Baldwin carries her 2-year-old son Princeton’s adoption papers with her wherever she goes.
That’s the reality of being a Black woman with a white child.
“Every time we leave the house, it’s a staring contest,” the North Carolina-based therapist, who opened up about her family's experiences as racial injustices are being protested all across the United States.
On two occasions, people have called the police to report a kidnapping.
“Princeton is almost 3 and it scares me when we’re out and people ask if I’m his mom,” Jones-Baldwin, 37, told TODAY Parents. “He’s looking at me with those blue eyes like, ‘What do you mean? What’s going on?’ It’s heartbreaking. He doesn't know he's adopted. We want to tell him in a beautiful way, and on our own terms."
When Princeton has a “toddler meltdown” in a store, Jones-Baldwin often just abandons her cart and beelines to the door. It's not because she's embarrassed about his behavior.
“I’m like, ‘Someone is gonna come over here in 3.2 seconds because they think he’s in danger and that’s why he’s crying,’” she explained. “My biggest fear is that that someone is going to grab him and run off to find help.”
Jones-Baldwin and her husband, Richardo Baldwin, are also parents to Zariyah, 16, Karleigh, 17, and Ayden, 9. The couple began fostering Princeton when he was a newborn. Born premature to a drug-addicted mother in July 2017, the baby boy weighed just 1 pound.
The whole family fell in love with Princeton, and his parents adopted him in August 2019. Since the family's journey with Princeton began, they've met with confusion — and worse — in public.
Jones-Baldwin recently felt compelled to turn the camera on a woman who wouldn’t leave her family alone at a restaurant.
“I answered all her questions but she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that I’m Princeton’s mom,” Jones-Baldwin recalled. “It’s important to document these things. I wanted to show people what we deal with on a regular basis."
Jones-Baldwin posted the footage on her “Raising Cultures” Facebook page, where she regularly shares videos and photos of her blended, multiracial family. The page has nearly 155,000 followers.
“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.”