This past Sunday evening my husband and I decided to take our usual weekly date night. Most of the weeks we take our dates on Friday nights, but due to our adopted grandson Joshua turning 11 on Friday, we stayed home with our family of 15 and celebrated. You see we, my husband and I, have 8 kids (young adults, but they were kids at one time) and we "adopted" 12 young adults. Our family has minimized by a few recently!
When my husband and I got married in 1995, we immediately became a family of ten. Without any guidance we embarked on an amazing journey. As our kids were growing up we noticed that more kids kept coming and staying longer in our home. We experienced first hand the physical abuse of one of our first "adopted" sons. He was a beautiful 16 year old that had only known instability, no father, and an abusive mother. He fled to our home and lived with us for 6 months until he was offered a truck if he went back to the abuse. We were heartbroken but understood that he continually wanted the approval of his biological mother and was very afraid of her.
That experience led us to always keep our hearts and our home opened to those young adults that wanted and needed a mom and dad in their lives!
Referring back to our date night we encountered three young adults from various backgrounds; here in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where everything just seems so perfect. These three were employees at a fast food restaurant who immediately began talking to us. They did not have any idea that I was Mrs. Kentucky International and that my husband and I were parents to kids just like them. As we were talking and my husband told them who I was and about my platform they said, "Wow, we don't have a family either." I asked, "Are you serious?" They said yes. We smiled and we went to take our seat. As we were waiting for them to bring our food to us (frying it fresh), my husband and I said to one another how this situation is repeated over and over again. The young adults came to us and we just told them to pull up a chair. They were amazed that we would take time to talk to them. One of them shared how he had been in and out of three foster homes. This young man in particular said he tried to block the idea that he soon would be out of the system. When he turned 18 his foster parent said to him that he could only stay there until he found somewhere else to go. That is a family?
One shared how at 18 she was abandoned. The younger one shared how she did not know who her father was until recently. She was living with her mother but one of her brothers was in foster care. Then she began to cry! We all had tears at that time.
The more we listened to their stories my heart was touched even after 15 years of opening our home to kids just like them. What makes us think that at 18 all kids want this freedom? Who says that only infants to young teens are the only ones that need to be adopted?
Elaine Barnes Bateman
Mrs. Kentucky International 2010