When four brothers were placed for adoption, an unlikely pair of friends stepped in to ensure that the brothers would not grow up apart.
The Washingtons already had two children when they decided to adopt the three oldest boys: Michael, Jess, and Camden. The boys were adopted from the foster system, and during the adoption process adoptive mother Julie Washington learned that the trio also had a one-year-old brother in the foster system. Little Elijah, Julie knew, needed to stay near his brothers. But the Washingtons didn’t feel prepared to adopt all four – especially knowing that five-year-old Jess has cerebral palsy.
That’s when neighbors Jay and George Houston intervened. Already parents to five children, the Houstons agreed that Elijah should grow up with his brothers and took him into their home as a foster child six months prior to officially adopting him last month. On the same day, the Washingtons adopted Michael, Jess, and Camden.
“I’m the youngest of seven kids and I was adopted,” Jay told ABC News. “Growing up, that’s always something I wanted to do.” Jay said that she immediately knew she wanted to adopt Elijah after she saw a video sent by his former foster mother. “His former foster mom sent us video of him laughing, smiling, crawling and I knew he’d fit right in.”
Jay knows that foster children are stigmatized, but insists: “These kids are kids and they just need love and I can’t explain how much these kids have changed my life. My husband and I are the lucky ones.”
Organizations like the Dave Thomas Foundation work to ensure that foster children are adopted so that they do not age out of the system without a permanent family to call their own. Some foster children are adopted as infants, but many remain in the system for years, and some “age out” of the system without ever being adopted. This means that they turn eighteen and have no family to which they can return to celebrate birthdays or important holidays. While some adoptive families prefer to adopt infants, there are many older children and teens in foster care who crave the affection and bond of a permanent family.