‘My Wife Has Wanted to Adopt an African American Boy’: White UFC Fighter Explains Why He Was Hesitant About Adopting Two Black Children

After experiencing backlash for his comments on parenting Black children, UFC fighter Michael Chandler, who is white, is addressing why he and his wife, Brie, decided to adopt two African-American boys.

On April 22, Chandler appeared on “The Shawn Ryan Show,” where he discussed his thoughts on identity politics and how he chooses to raise his two adopted sons, Hap, 7, and Ace, 2.

“Whether you are Black or you are white, no matter what race that you are, there are certain things about being a man and being a good man when it comes to character and integrity and safeguarding the helpless and sticking up for those who need it,” Chandler said, adding, “Being a good man, a good man of reputation, none of that has to do with skin color. Everything has to do with the character of the man. Probably not an answer that some people would say is important, but that’s where the world has gone.”

While many believed the 38-year-old’s heart was in the right place, critics also felt his parenting techniques would ultimately do his Black children a disservice.

UFC fighter Michael Chandler says he's raising his two Black adopted sons not to see race or color.
UFC fighter Michael Chandler says he’s raising his two Black adopted sons not to see race or color. (Photos: @briechandler/Instagram)

On June 7, Chandler appeared as a guest on “The Pivot” podcast, where he addressed the criticism and added some context to his past statements about “not raising Black children.”

“I think that soundbite obviously can be clipped … that little five seconds can be clipped, and of course, I would say, ‘Wait a second,’ but if you dive deeper into it, right, it was all about their skin color is not the most important thing about them,” Chandler told co-host and ESPN star Ryan Clark. “And maybe I’m wrong for saying that, maybe other people would disagree with me. The most important thing about a man is being a man and the virtues and the things and the characteristics about being a good man.”

While sharing a clip of his sitdown with Chandler on X, Clark summarized the conversation by saying, “As a Black man, I shared my thoughts with Mike in this conversation. I agree with him that skin color isn’t the most important thing about his babies. Still, many in this country see color. They see it first, & sometimes only. Michael & Brie exude love, but their children need to be prepared for the hate their skin color can elicit. I love that they don’t parent with fear, but as they grow awareness of racism & racial bias could save their lives.”

However, according to Chandler, he eventually plans on having the tough conversation when the time is right.

“Obviously, part of it, too, is if I would have done that interview and my sons were 14 and 11, it’s a little bit different,” said Chandler. “I’ve got a 2-year-old, and I’ve got a 7-year-old. So maybe that question being answered to me five years from now or … you know, my son Hap now is 7, so, we’re getting toward that direction, but he’s always just been a little kid, and then Ace is just a little kid. So there’s always the age-appropriate scenario.”

Further in the conversation, “The Pivot” co-host Channing Crowder asked Chandler to share some background on the adoption process and what led to him and his wife choosing to adopt Black children instead of white children. According to Chandler, his wife was the initial reason they started exploring adoption.

“My wife has wanted to adopt an African-American boy since she was a teenager. My wife has had that on her heart since she was a teenager,” Chandler said. “I remember she used to do inner-city mission work, she used to go to Jamaica on mission trips with her dad. Everybody knew she was going to do it, eventually, someday. And she always said if ‘I marry a good man, I want to do this.'”

Chandler admitted it took him some time to wrap his head around adoption.

“It was something that was kind of foreign to me,” Chandler said when he first learned his wife wanted to adopt Black children. “I never really thought about that. I always just thought I was going to have my babies that kind of looked like me. … They’re white kids with brown eyes, blue eyes … whatever.”

The couple welcomed their first adoptive son, Hap, in 2017 before adopting Ace in 2022. According to Chandler, the process of adopting Hap took about a year, but it took only six minutes to match them.

In 2017, Chandler recalled being brought to tears shortly after seeing a picture of his then-9-month-old son Hap for the first time.

“We wanted a newborn to six months. It’s just funny how you have your preferences, and you have your plans, and then all of a sudden, God just says, nope. He was nine months old. They sent us his picture, and as soon as I saw it, I got this feeling inside of me, and I started tearing up. I was just like: ‘That’s my son,’” said Chandler in an interview with MMA Fighting.

The Pivot co-host and former NFL running back Fred Taylor expressed his support for Chandler and applauded him for being present in his children’s lives and showing them love.

“When we look at little Black boys in our community and how we came up in certain demographics, a lot of times the father figures aren’t present, the head of the households aren’t present,” Taylor said. “So no matter what those people out there are spewing and all the crap that they try and throw up against the wall, you’re present for your kids, you love your kids with all you’re heart.”

Chandler is scheduled to return to the octagon on June 29 when he faces off against Conor McGregor at UFC 303 in Las Vegas.

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