Everyone Wants To Adopt Davion Only, Too Bad His Adoption Service Keeps Dropping The Ball

davionThe more time I spend on the Internet, the more I realize that things are hardly ever what they seem. You’ve probably been scammed into sharing a photo of a sick kid on Facebook (that was clearly Photoshopped) to raise some kind of awareness. You’ve also probably heard of the heartwarming viral story of Davion Only, a 15-year-old boy who pleaded with a church congregation to adopt him because he was in need of a family.

I absolutely loved this story. I have a special spot in my heart for kids that don’t feel wanted—related to my own childhood issues that involved divorce, my biological parents, and a step-parent. When I heard that Davion had the guts to stand up as an orphaned kid and ask for a loving home, I was floored.

Here’s more about Davion’s backstory:

He was born while his mother was in jail, and one day he took his birth certificate and looked up information on a library computer and discovered that his mom had died just a few weeks before. He has lived in numerous fosters homes, and at Eckerd’s Carlton Manor residential group home.

In a perfect made-for-TV movie scenario that made my heart melt, Davion went to church on a Sunday and made a heartfelt plea to the congregation:

“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 know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

After this tear-jerking story spread like wildfire, we were led to believe that Davion may have found the family he was hoping for just in time for Christmas of last year. This appeared to be a wonderful beginning to an adoption story that would hopefully make ripples and raise awareness for thousands of other kids in Davion’s situation—older adoptees who are “unwanted” and lost in the shuffle.

The most recent update to the story absolutely sucks. Davion still has not been adopted, and the blame is likely to rest on his adoption agency, Eckerd. Eckerd is under fire as a number of potential parents claim that the agency never returned their calls in regard to Davion. The teen once received mass attention after appearing on national talk shows and morning shows, but now his adoption service won’t allow him to communicate with the media—with no cell phone or email access and stringent Facebook privacy settings.

This is all kinds of bullshit. Why have the 10,000 people who expressed interest in helping or adopting Davion been ignored? Why is he still in a foster home without any hope of placement with adoptive parents? Roughly 300 people contacted the Eckerd foster agency directly without any response. Loving parents interested in providing Davion a home blame “the system” for this unforgivable mess.

(Image: Eckered.org)

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  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    I STILL get emails from parents asking for info on Davion. That poor beautiful kid. Grrrrr.

    • Andrea

      Did the adoption agency not respond to calls for comments from the media? It’ll be interesting to see what they have to say. Cuz this is all kinds of wrong.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Oh no, they are on total no talking mode

    • Bethany Ramos

      “An Eckerd spokeswoman said Davion was meeting with prospective adoptive families and that the process would take time.” Daily Mail

      But the issue is that they aren’t getting back to anybody! So the interested parents say.

    • Lackadaisical

      They might be talking to a small number of families that they felt were a best fit and those families may not be talking to the media because it would not be in the lad’s best interest to do so. If he is going through a process of making sure a particular family is right for him then it may be a good idea to shut the media out. If the adoption people has that many applicants then they can’t get back to everyone, even to say “sorry, we chose someone else”. If they released any info about the potential family then can you imagine the media frenzy and how detrimental it would be to the bonding process. He isn’t a cute puppy in a dog’s home, this can’t be rushed.

    • Larkin

      In all fairness, I would hardly expect an adoption agency to respond to 300 random callers (most of whom are probably not pre-screened or approved for adoption) who are all inquiring about one kid. The fact that some people are pissed that they didn’t get called back doesn’t mean the agency isn’t trying to match him with the best family for him… just that they can’t realistically call that many people back. They’re probably super understaffed and overworked, like most adoption/foster agencies.

  • JLH1986

    Aren’t foster agencies governed by a board. Has no one contacted the board and filed a complaint?

  • Valerie

    This breaks my heart. That sweet boy put himself out there and practically begged for a family to love him and he’s still waiting? :-(

  • aCongaLine

    I very much want to just move him into our guest room and call him family. What a beautiful kid, and what an awful situation. I just want to give him presents form Santa, and homecooked meals, and a spot on the couch to watch ridiculous TV shows, and birthday cake, and brown paper bag lunches with embarrassing notes in them for lunch, and a quiet place for him to do his homework, and lots of hugs and loves to make up for the ones he missed along the way. It breaks my heart that this kid doesn’t have a family. I want him to be a part of mine :(

    • Bethany Ramos

      So sweet – me too. :(

    • a_narwhal

      It seems that this particular child has more than enough potential candidates that at least one family interested family will qualify to give him a home.
      There are so many other older children in the system that need loving homes. Why not consider adopting a different child? Imagine how many children could find loving homes if everyone who wanted this particular child would adopt one.

      There are plenty of sad stories like this but they have not captured the media’s attention so they are overlooked. You could still make a difference in the life of a child.

    • Lackadaisical

      Well said. There are plenty of children in similar situations who haven’t reached out publicly so we don’t know about them. If these families are serious about offering a home to a teenager and not just swept up by an internet sensation perhaps they should consider helping another child. If they are only moved by the cute story and shrink at the idea of offering a home and family to an unknown child (and let’s be honest none of us really know this child either) then maybe they aren’t the best family to take on a big commitment like that. He will be lovely but he won’t match the image we build of him in our minds and after years without a stable, loving family will have a lot of issues to work through. If people are serious about tackling all of that then bearing in mind only one of the thousands of families that applied can adopt him perhaps the rest of those people should reach out to other lonely older orphans.

    • aCongaLine

      I can’t help but think that I gave off the impression that I was starstruck by the internet buzz around this kid. While I feel for him- and I’d love to have him be a part of my family- I realize for every Wednesday’s Child, there are thousands of other kids who need homes, too.

    • Lackadaisical

      I am sorry, I didn’t mean to sound harsh and accuse you of only caring about the kid because he as a ‘fad’. I do not believe that to be the case, I believe you to care because you have empathy. However, I do think that a large chunk (but not all) of the 10,000 people who have applied to adopt the lad and are complaining that no-one got back to them are really only interested in taking him in because they have seen his face on the internet and a story that has spread. Perhaps if they wanted him enough and felt their home lives suitable enough to put in an application they might look at other children in similar situations (and if I were choosing a short list of families for him I would probably want to short-list families who have expressed an interest in adopting other children if not selected as approx 9,999 families won’t be, rather than those who just want the kid from the story).

    • aCongaLine

      I totally understand, no worries. I can only hope that those that do get swept up in the sensationalism realize that they really can make a difference in a kid’s life- and seek out other children that need what they can provide. Older kids are tough- they aren’t the adorable, moldable babies that little ones are- and they have baggage. But, who doesn’t? The trick is to be equipped, emotionally and otherwise, to take on an older kid, and that definitely narrows the pool, even with the help of the internet and media. I just so very much hope for a happy ending, for anyone who needs it.

    • a_narwhal

      Lackadaisical took the words right out of my mouth. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh and I shouldn’t have worded my response so personally towards you. It’s a very admirable thing that you want to do and I hope that someday you get the chance. Best wishes to you and yours.

    • aCongaLine

      No worries. I just felt that I misrepresented myself, and wanted to clarify.

      I think you guys are totally right, though, that people can, and do get swept up in the idea of it… and aren’t fully equipped to handle the reality of it- and that makes for an exponentially more awful situation.

      We’re optimistic that we’ll get to adopt, or foster, at some point in our lives, be it sooner or later. We live in an urban area that has many kids in this exact situation, and it breaks my heart to know there are kids that are in need right down the street. We’ve got our fingers crossed that we’ll make a difference somewhere, to someone!

    • aCongaLine

      Hubs and I both feel really strongly about kids in that type of situation in general… not just this one kid. And honestly, I’d want to fill my house with kids that don’t have homes. I totally get that this particular kid is “taken care of” in that other couples are interested, etc. When we are able to, we have plans of becoming foster parents, and perhaps adoptive parents, as I’ll advocate for adoption when we start talking about baby number 3. It’s less getting swept up in an internet sensation and more feeling a great urge to help, and do, and offer what we have to kids that don’t have a family. That being said, adopting, or fostering, a kid is very different than adopting or rescuing a puppy, and it’s a long process to even be considered- at least where we live. We’re not going to be ready to offer our home and our family to kids who need a family and a home for a few years at least… but it doesn’t mean I don’t have an urge to help out that poor kid that happened to get picked up by the media.

  • Véronique Houde

    Dropping the ball? I don’t think I would be as quick to judge… This is the way I see it.

    CPServices across the world are notoriously understaffed, overworked, and have to jump through a hell of a lot of hoops before an adoption can be approved – especially with older kids who will have a slew of challenges and attachment issues.

    So this kid one day understandably tries his best to take control of his life (and yay for him). People’s hearts have melted and they decided to help him out. What happened? CPS got more calls than they can handle with their lack of staff, all biding for the same kid. These are most likely parents who have never been foster or adoptive parents, don’t have the proper paperwork to be able to proceed with an adoption. Home evaluations have to be done, psychological assessments, background checks, criminal record checks done on… 500 parents? All biding for the same kid?

    These things take time. In Quebec, it takes up to 5-6 years before you can legally adopt a kid after manifesting your interest. And I’m willing to bet that these parents didn’t say that they’re willing to adopt ANY older kid – they all want the one that the media spoke about. So can you blame CPS now for being a little pissed at the media for creating a media shitstorm, putting undue pressure on them because of this one (deserving) child? All kids deserve to be adopted out, but there has always been a lack of interest in older kids. So now they have to go through all of these files, and it’s just not realistic to say that it can be done within 4 months.

    CPS will never be accountable to the media for productivity. Their services MUST and WILL always run despite of the media putting pressure on them – because the day that they adopt out a kid who gets abused, it comes to bite them in the ass. Where was the unbiased article exploring the adoption process, the challenges that the workers are put through, and the other children that need to be adopted as well?

    • Katherine Handcock

      Very well said. While I think there are arguments for the system being broken in some ways, adoption, even of an older child who is completely clear on how the process works, is not a simple situation. And yes, there are so many older kids in the same position.

      I would be more sympathetic to would-be parents who were contacting adoption services because this boy’s story has opened their eyes to the need of foster and adoptive families for older children and teens. I suspect a major reason for the lack of contact in return is simply because they have a mandate not to respond to anyone who is contacting them about adopting a specific individual child. Because, sadly, while these parents probably all have good intentions, there are would-be adoptive parents out there who will abuse kids — or who are planning to “shop” for their future child. Seriously, as in, “I’d really like a blonde-haired, blue-eyed child with dimples.”

    • bl

      Yeah, I don’t necessarily think they’re dropping the ball either. They might be, but they might just be working hard to process something that takes time. The linked Daily Mail article (and I know it’s just the Daily Mail, but it seems to be the source here) made it seem like things took a while to sort out but there are currently a few families under serious consideration.

      I mean how many of those people who contacted the agency and then complained about not hearing back followed up themselves? Or did the work to be a serious candidate and tried again? How many are prepared to take in a teenager or had any interest in doing so before they saw him on TV? And if his adoption agency isn’t letting him have media contact…well that seems fair to me as long as they’re doing so kindly. Maybe they’re trying to protect him from feeling rejected by the world if one of these families doesn’t work out. Maybe they’re trying to protect his privacy and that of the potential foster and adoptive parents. I certainly would limit media contact for a child I’m responsible for if I felt it was in his best interests.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I certainly hope it doesn’t take 5-6 years. This is a 15-year-old. His only chance of having a family to go through the rest of high school and his years as a minor are slowly slipping away.
      In an ideal world, when families show interest in adopting an older child, who definitely doesn’t have the adoption advantage a baby has, some extra effort should be there to get things moving. The kid’s time as a kid is running out, and they’ve already made enough shitty memories of not belonging to anyone.
      And probably the solution would be more funding and resources, so… not likely.

  • Robotic Socks

    WIthout knowing jackcrap about this, but if Eckerd received 10,000+ inquiries, isn’t it natural that some would not receive a call back? You’d need some Indian call center to handle that volume.

    I think the best way to handle this is for Eckerd to put up Davion on eBay. Offer Free Shipping to boot!

  • Véronique Houde

    There’s a teen that calls in to our help line once in a while… She was abused by her dad and was taken away from her home. Her social worker wanted to give her the best shot possible, and so she insisted on sending her to a foster family as soon as possible.

    She HATED it there. Was it because they weren’t loving enough? Actually, it was the opposite… She always felt as though they wanted to “make up for her fucked up past” and “give her the life that she never had” and she became really resentful of it. She felt like she barely knew these people, and that they wanted to push their own family on her too fast.

    In the end, she asked to go back to a group home because she couldn’t emotionally deal with the family dynamic she was being put in.

    It’s hard work being a foster family, or adopting an older child. You never know how the kids are going to react. Perhaps before they’re sent into a family, they’re hoping for love and warmth, but then they experience emotions that they can’t handle.

    That’s why you can never push an adoption on a family too fast. All of these families that said “awww, he’s so awesome and adorable and I just want to give him the best home ever” don’t really know this boy and his issues, and perhaps haven’t received the best training in order to help this teen adapt to a new family life.

    • C.J.

      It must be difficult for older children to learn to trust a new family. I imagine it must be very hard to give enough space to let the child learn to trust you while at the same time showing them you care about them.

    • Véronique Houde

      It was a tough situation all around. This family seemed to truly care and want to do the best – they just didn’t go about it in the best way with this kid. On one hand, her going back to a group home (which are really good here in Montreal) would be better for her because the relationships she would form with the counsellors would be a little bit more distant and therapeutic, and a younger child could perhaps be placed in that home, which would make him or her happy.

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  • janey

    The structure of this headline makes my head hurt too much to read the article.

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