Andrea Barton is single but wants a child. When an infant is abandoned at a church on the north side of Chicago, Andrea first becomes a foster mother and then adopts her. Andrea believes that love and her experience as a social worker will see her through the challenges of raising an African-American child in a white world. During Pearl’s childhood, Andrea is able to protect her daughter from many of society’s blows. But when teenaged Pearl starts to seek her own identity, their relationship is threatened. Both mother and daughter face situations that force them to confront the possibilities and limits of love.