WILL YOU ADOPT ME?
This is the time of year to be grateful for those we love and for all we have. This is also the time of year your mailbox is filled with appeals for help and donations.
This year A Family For Every Child has decided to send a thank-you letter instead. We have been very blessed this year with support, donations and acts of kindness from our partners in this work. We want to give you just one story, just one reason why you are and have been so important to us.
With your caring assistance we can work together to improve the opportunity of matching waiting children --just like Davion-- with loving families. YOUR DONATIONS, SUPPORT, GENEROUS VOLUNTEER HOURS AND PRAYERS HAVE MADE THIS POSSIBLE.
Last year we had the honor to represent 2,250 children through our many programs. Most of these children are older, sibling groups, minorities, and/or children with physical, psychological or developmental challenges. Due to their age, disabilities, or number of siblings, these children with unique needs are often underrepresented by their state social workers or overlooked by families. At a Family for Every Child, we focus on children's unique qualities to match them with loving, permanent families.
Your support has allowed us to continue increasing the prospect of adoption for every child and limiting their time in foster care. This is a point of great significance.
Last year 400,000 children spent at least one day in foster care in the United States. These children entered foster care after being removed from their homes and placed in the care of unfamiliar adults. A child in foster care does not know what the future holds, when the next unexpected move to another temporary home will be, if their physical and emotional needs will be met, or if a family will find them for adoption.
Davion did not know what his future would hold when he stood in front of the St. Mark Baptist Church congregation and asked for a family to adopt him. Since Davion made his public appeal, over 10,000 searching families have expressed their desire to adopt through the Heart Gallery. Our goal is for all children in foster care to have the same attention brought to their simple need for a family.
If you only have time for one story, please read about Davion….
PhotographerTim Boyles, took Davion's photo for the Heart Gallery in 2005 and again earlier this year
Searching his whole life: This is Davion, pictured in 2005 when he was just seven years old. Davion, who lives in Florida, is now 15 and is still looking for a family to adopt him
Photographer Tim Boyles said, "It broke my heart to photograph Davion a second time. It had been eight years since I first photographed him for the Heart Gallery. He had grown up into such a fine young man from the cute, little boy he was in 2005. But one thing hadn't changed: Davion was still living in group homes and foster care."
A YOUNG BOY'S DREAM
By Helen M. Davis
For most of us family is something we take for granted. We've always had them around --sometimes more than we care-- and we know we can count on them in good times and bad. We know they are there and that we are loved.
We also are secure in the knowledge that we have a place to call home, a place which is our refuge from the world, a place where we belong and a place where we are safe and secure.
But what happens when you don't even have your own pillow? What happens when your bed is a bunk in a room shared by several others? What happens when you live in a group home occupied by 12 teenage boys, all with their own sets of problems? What if cameras record everything you do and you must ask someone to unlock the door just so you can use the bathroom? What if your few meager possessions must be kept under lock and key so they won't be taken from you?For Davion Navar Henry Only, 15, of St. Petersburg, Florida, this is his reality.
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Davion, one of 399,548 children in the foster care system in the United States, was born in jail to a mother with a history of drug abuse and petty theft. He has never had a home. He has never had someone to call "Mom" or "Dad." He has never had someone to understand his need to have a light on at night, or to drive him to football practice so he can play on the team, or to affirm his worth. All he has known is the instability of moving from place to place and wondering why nobody wants to love him.
Over the years, Davion yearned for a family of his own. His caseworker, Connie Going, did what she could to aid him in his quest. She took him to picnics and had his portrait added to the Heart Gallery in 2005 and again early this year. Davion shared for the Heart Gallery his dream of becoming a police officer and that science was his favorite subject in school. He told of his interest in football and basketball and Chinese food. He described himself as "nice" and "fun" and revealed that the best thing he had ever done was to save another boy from drowning. He didn't care if his adoptive family were rich or poor. That didn't matter. Ethnicity didn't matter, either. All Davion wanted was somebody "nice" and "fun" who would love him unconditionally.
But nobody responded. Nobody, it seemed, was interested in providing Davion the family he so longed to have. He'd had issues with anger, had lashed out and thrown chairs, squandered his grades and pushed away those who attempted to get close.
Last June, Davion decided to try and locate his biological mother. Using his birth certificate, he ensconced himself in front of a computer at the library and typed in her name. First, her mug shot came up. She was a large woman, six feet one inch tall and 270 pounds, and he could see a resemblance. Then, Davion found her obituary. La-Dwina Ilene "Big Dust" McCloud, 55, of Clearwater, had died on June 5th, mere weeks before his search had begun. Davion cried. He had dreamed that she would one day come back for him. Now, this dream would never be realized. He knew of no other biological family.
Learning of his biological mother's death proved to be a turning point in Davion's life. He knew that if he was to find his "forever family," he was going to have to let go of the anger. It wasn't easy, but he put forth the effort and spent the summer developing self-control, allowing others to draw near, and he even slimmed down by 40 pounds. He also applied himself scholastically, and now in his sophomore year has earned an A in all his classes except geometry. He came a long way in a short time. But he wasn't through.
Davion was well aware that in three short years he would be aging out of the system, as do 20,000 other children each year. Yet, his belief that his "forever family" was out there was unwavering. He needed to take action and put himself out there so they could find one another. He'd heard about God helping people who help themselves, and he decided that this is exactly what he would do. To this end, he asked to speak in a church.
On a September Sunday, clad in a donated too-large black suit and a donated zip-up tie, Davion, accompanied by Going, arrived at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church. As they pulled into the church's parking lot, Davion had grown so nervous he wanted to back out. But Going refused to let him. He needed to see this through. This was too important to give up on.
Hugging the bible that was given to him at the group home, Davion entered the church and took a seat in the sanctuary. More than 300 people filled the pews. Moms, dads, grandparents --they were all seated and ready for the service to begin. Davion was quick to notice. He always noticed families and wished that he could be a part of one, too.
Reverend Brian Brown delivered a sermon about a letter from the Apostle Paul, who wrote of being in prison while awaiting a future filled with uncertainty. This was something Davion could easily relate to. Reverend Brown also touched on the subject of orphans and how Jesus had lifted them up, describing an "epidemic" of African American children awaiting families. Then, he called on Davion to speak.
A shy boy by nature, Davion walked slowly to the pulpit, his hands sweating and his heart pounding. Clearing his throat, he began.
''My name is Davion and I've been in foster care since I was born. I know God hasn't given up on me, so I'm not giving up either."
Since that fateful Sunday, Davion's group home has been inundated with no less than 500 calls from prospective parents. His story on MailOnline.com has been read by 400,000 people, and it has been shared by 1,700 people on MailOnline's Facebook page, receiving 6,000 "Likes." A call center has even been mobilized by Eckerd.com, begun by his group home, Carlton Manor in Eckerd, in order to ensure that each and every call about Davion receives a timely response.
He may not be aware of this fact, but Davion has accomplished more, much more, than merely finding his "forever family." Davion has given a face to all those children and teens in foster care who are searching for families of their own, and he has opened up a much-needed discussion on the matter. Sadly, statistics reveal that when a child reaches the age of nine, his or her chances of being adopted decrease dramatically.
Said Davion when asked, ''I'll take anyone. Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don't care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be. I just want people to love me for who I am and to grab me and keep me in their house and love me no matter what."
Isn't that what every kid wants?
FINDING FAMILIES: FOSTER CARE BY NUMBERS
THANK YOU!! MAY 2014 BLESS YOU AND YOURS!