It was a Facebook story that caught the eye of DaShoan and Sofia Olds and changed their lives forever.
Necia, Eric, Erica, Zavian, Dava, Keyon, and Gentry were seven biological siblings living in three separate foster homes when their story was shared on social media. They had been in foster care a total of two years and were legally free for adoption.
DaShoan and Sofia had been married for 12 years at the time, both focusing their energy on their careers. Having been deployed to Iraq together immediately after their wedding, they later settled in Marianna, Florida, where they eventually bought a large dream home. Friends and family asked why they bought such a spacious house when there was just the two of them. DaShoan told Babble that looking back, the purchase of their home was obviously meant to be.
On Black Friday in 2016, Sofia’s friend messaged her a Facebook story about a sibling set of seven who needed a forever family. Sofia then messaged the story to her husband. DaShoan told Babble the story was so touching, and he and his wife just knew the children were meant to be theirs.
They sent an e-mail to the children’s caseworker but didn’t get a response. They reached out again, and eventually they received a message in return, discovering their original e-mails were sitting in the worker’s spam folder.
In January, the couple began the foster care classes required to adopt, and in March they went through the homestudy process, which included interviews, references, background checks, and more.
During this time, the couple met the children twice, and in April, were permitted to share with them the happy news: They were matched to be adopted. And not just some of them, but all seven children. The kids would no longer be separated. DaShoan told Babble the kids were “through the roof excited” and there were “tears of joy.”
Today, Necia (12), Eric and Erica (11), Zavian (9), Dava (8), Keyon (6), and Gentry (4) reside with their parents, DaShoan and Sofia, who keep a rigid schedule. After school, the kids do their homework and have a healthy snack before heading out for practices. Then it’s home for dinner, showers, and bedtime. The routine begins again the next day.
According to The Dave Thomas Foundation, there are almost 150,000 children in the United States waiting to be adopted into a forever family. The average age of a child waiting to be adopted is 8 years old. Sadly, every year, 20,000 children age out of the foster care system without the love, support, and security of a family. The good news? Foster care adoption is free.
Adoption can be intimidating, but DaShoan has some advice. “If you’re just thinking about doing it, take the classes. Do your homestudy. It’s an easy thing to do. Make the phone call. You don’t have to have everything ready. Go onto the Heart Gallery. Tell people what you want. Communicate.”
And if you aren’t desiring to adopt but do want to help children who need role models in their lives, DaShoan offers that there are many ways to help a child. Drive a bus. Become a teacher. Get certified to provide respite care for foster children. Become a coach.
As 2017 comes to an end, DaShoan says he and his wife look forward to Christmas in their home with their children, where they’ll have a big breakfast and exchange gifts. When asked what this season of change and union means to him, the proud father shared, “Adoption is a team coming together.”
And togetherness is exactly what the holiday season is all about.