Reprinted from the Huffington Post/RaiseAChild.Us
Teves Lee and Vonetta Mobley-Lee are two hard-working, black lesbian moms from Long Beach, California who adopted five of their seven children through the foster care system and say that they could not be more blessed.
Teves, 41, is a fifth-generation barber and the owner of Afros of Hollywood Barber and Beauty Salon. Vonetta, 38, worked as a bus operator for 15 years prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom. They met 21 years ago through a mutual friend when Teves’ biological daughter, Kyrstena, was one year old and became a couple 14 years ago. Together they founded and run a nonprofit called Haven of Hope Foundation in Long Beach that houses homeless individuals, including single mothers and fathers, homeless teens and former foster youth.
While her children are in school, Vonetta tends to the nonprofit by conducting intakes of new residents, meeting with case managers and so forth. In the evenings, Teves often teaches at Marinello’s School of Beauty in Boyle Heights, so Vonetta teams up with the oldest daughter, Kyrstena, who is 22, to help the younger kids with their homework. The children attend church every Saturday and enjoy family outings on most Sundays.
The couple originally focused on fostering, but when reunification of the foster children with their biological family fell through, Teves and Vonetta decided to adopt them. Ultimately, Vonetta adopted TeVon, Teves’ second biological child, who is now 10 years old, and together the couple adopted five foster children. Only a few children who came to their home did not end up staying.
The family lives in a 7,000 square-foot house with seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a good-sized yard sheltered by high brick walls. They have three dogs, Mister, Dosha and Seven, who was a gift to Vonetta on the couple’s seventh anniversary. The menagerie also includes six new puppies that TeVon and Kyrstena delivered, an African Grey parrot named Huckleberry and a couple of little fish.
If the large two-mom family seems unusual to anyone, they keep it to themselves.
Teves herself grew up in All Saints Church of God and Christ, formerly Jesus Memorial Church of God in Christ where her uncle is the pastor, and for her there is no compromising when it comes to its role in her life.
“They weren’t that happy with the dynamics of my family,” said Teves of the church, “but that’s what my family is so they really have no choice but to accept it … But if you don’t give people the room to have a problem with it, then how can they?”
What Teves would most like to share with prospective foster-adoptive parents is encouragement for individuals who may be nontraditional or non-gender conforming, or who may have small criminal matters in their past.
“Gay couples, especially ‘aggressive’ females, may feel society sees them as unfit to be a parent and I didn’t come across any of that kind of stereotyping whatsoever,” said Teves, who had initially feared her tattoos and masculine personality might cause the foster agency to reject her. “Not to say that it’s not out there or that it wouldn’t happen, but I personally didn’t experience any of that. I would also want to tell people that if you’ve had a legal history of some sort or hiccup in the past, it might not automatically disqualify you so do your research.
Having a lot of children was not part of Vonetta’s plan but she fell in love with them, and now she wouldn’t have it any other way.