After 15-year-old Florida orphan Davion Only was forced to make a plea to find an adoptive family, a woman who has adopted 20 of her 22 children, including seven of them as teenagers, is encouraging families considering adoption to adopt older children.
"No matter how old a child or youth is, he or she is never too old to need a family. Everyone needs a family for a lifetime, or as we say, 'Not just a family to grow up in, but a family to grow old in,'" noted Sue Badeau, a national adoption and fostering expert and Christian author in a release on Friday.
"Even the most competent, capable 18, 19 or 20 year old who is heading off to college and career still needs a family -- for advice, guidance, support, someone to be there for them in good times and bad, and later to be a grandparent to their own children," she added.
Davion captured national headlines last week after the Tampa Bay Times reported on his recent appeal for an adoptive family at the St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla. His whole life was spent in foster care after his mother, who died last year, gave birth to him in prison.
"I'll take anyone," Davion told the 300 people at the church. "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don't care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be," he said.
Badeau, who is the incoming president for the North American Council on Adoptable Children and a national consultant, also recently wrote a book, titled Are We There Yet?: Adopting and Raising 22 Kids, chronicling her experience as an adoptive parent along with her husband, Hector.
The couple tapped into their Christian faith and asked God to bring them the children that needed them the most.
"I am so grateful for Davion's courage and tenacity and so saddened that any child in America has to take such extreme measures to find a family. I am also thrilled that so many people are reportedly responding and saying they would adopt him," noted Badeau.
"We adopted seven of our kids as teenagers; the oldest was 20 when he was legally adopted, 19 when he first came into our family. Though there have been some tough times, it has been 25 years since the six oldest were adopted by us and 15 years since the last teen joined us. All have greatly enriched our family's circle of love and are still fully part of and engaged in our family," she added.
Among other professional accomplishments, Badeau has also served as a public policy fellow in the office of Sen. John Rockefeller IV, (D-W.Va.), deputy director for the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, executive director of the Philadelphia Children's Commission, and as a director for the Casey Family Programs, the nation's largest foundation focused on foster care.