Because of a recent invitation to a party, I started looking online for adoption statistics. Many folks who are looking to adopt want to adopt an infant and because the demand for infants to adopt is so great in this country, folks look for babies overseas. As those children in the foster care system age, the chances for them to get adopted grows smaller.
Now, this is not to say that there isn't any hope for older children — there is. So, I'd like to relate to you a tale about a local youngster who looks like he'll be one of the success stories.
This tale started out about five years ago when Jeannie Harriss, a local Highland resident, received a phone call from a friend that she had known for most of his life, who asked if she would be willing to do an intervention with his family. Jeannie drove down to Charlottesville, Va., where this family lived. When she walked into the home, she couldn't believe what she was seeing: here was this little, helpless little boy, lying in a port-a-crib, covered in feces and lying in it, too. As she was relating this to me, her eyes welled up with tears and her voice cracked a little.
The local social services rep was there along with the police. Jeannie told them that "this boy needs to come home with me." The social worker told her that they wanted to try and place the baby with a relative first, which they did. Apparently this didn't work out and a few weeks later, the social worker called Jeannie back and asked her if she was still interested in the child. She told the social worker "to give me five minutes to look up the address and I'll come get him."
She dropped what she was doing and left immediately for Charlottesville and was given custody of this little guy named Jacob Brown.
"At this point, he was 19 months old," Jeannie said, "and I've had him ever since."
This took place in 2006. For her part, Jeannie has tried to keep Jake's mother involved in his life, even flying out to California three times for visits. On one visit, she was in California for 14 days and Jake's mom would only see him for about 10 minutes. She wouldn't visit him anymore after that. As Jake got older, Jeannie and Jake would pray every night asking "Jesus that He would give Jake a new mommy and daddy. And, maybe, even a brother or a sister."
Sometimes, it takes a long time for prayers to get answered. This one did. It all started in March of this year. Jeannie gave Jake's name to her cousin who is a member of an adoption support group in Virginia. Her cousin put her in touch with a woman named Melody Wright, who has six adopted children of her own. Melody has her own support group and they would meet and pray for the kids that were in need of adoption.
One of the couples with whom Melody shared Jake's story and picture was her daughter and her husband, Autumn and Mike Temple. Mike works in building supplies while Autumn is a stay-at-home mom and home-schools her children. This couple started praying for Jake. But they couldn't get Jacob out of their minds. After a while, Autumn realized that they were the ones that should take Jacob in and make him part of their family. So, they contacted Jeannie and got the ball rolling.
Autumn and Mike have four children — Jacob Michael, Joanna, Jadah and baby Jonathan. They came here over Easter for their first visit, though he's been down to their home in Virginia for extended stays. So, I was invited to this party that Jeannie and Jacob called "A Celebration of My New Family" where I had a chance to meet the Temples. I observed their children at play and it was almost magical: they shared the toys, looked out for each other and made sure everyone got a turn with the ride-on toys. They have a custody hearing in August and are very excited about the prospect of adding Jacob to their family.
I once heard a story about a little boy who just found out that he was adopted. The kid started crying, saying things like, "my real parents didn't want me" and "what did I do that made my real mom and dad give me away?" The mom and dad put their arms around the child, comforting him and told him that "You are special. You were chosen. When your dad and I first saw you, we knew that we had to have you in our family. We wanted you!" Jake is special because Autumn and Mike chose him.
Well, that's all for this week. Commit a random act of kindness. Look in on your neighbors. Say a prayer for our troops who are serving in harm's way and remember their families, too.