A permanent home for the holidays — that’s what Baylee got as 30 people filled a Randall County courtroom earlier this month to witness and celebrate the adoption of the girl into the home of Chad and Christina Long.
“I was happy to finally be in a home,” Baylee said. “I finally have parents that love me and take care of me and won’t send me somewhere else.”
The adoption, which was timed to coincide with National Adoption Month, is also right on time for the holiday season.
“We wanted to do it in November because it’s National Adoption Month, but we wanted to be greedy and do it on our own day,” Christina said.
Though the process — which began with an email in January — may have been shorter than the length other parents wait to adopt, it was still nerve-wracking.
“And they let you know, ‘OK, it’s between you and five families, now you and three families …’ I called my mom every day and would let her know it’s between us and this many,” Christina said.
Chad said he didn’t have to stress about the outcome.
“God told me immediately that she was coming into our home,” he said.
Christina was in a different mindset. “He was smooth and he was fine, but I stressed,” she added.
When the call they were waiting for did come, it came after work hours.
“It was like 11:30 (at night) and (Baylee’s) caseworker called and asked if we were sitting down,” Christina said.
“Our hope and our dream was always to adopt. We knew that no matter what (Baylee) looked like, no matter race, no matter what, we wanted her.”
Upon learning they were the chosen couple, Christina was overcome with emotion.
“The tears rolled down my face, I started screaming,” Christina said.
“He was like, ‘I knew it. I knew it!’ I called my parents and his parents … (our parents) have been waiting to get a granddaughter.”
After contending with 17 homes, Baylee joined the Longs on March 10.
“This is an answered prayer we’ve had for a long time,” Chad said.
Ties to adoption
Chad and Christina, who will celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary in May, have wanted to give their love to an adopted child.
Chad has an adopted sister and Christina is herself a foster child that was later adopted.
“They had nine more (foster kids) after me and they adopted (me and) the last one,” Christina said.
Though Christina joined her parents’ home at an early age, it took seven years for her to be legally adopted because her birth father couldn’t be located.
“I was put into their home at 2 — ‘cause I stayed in the hospital until I was almost 2 years old — they were finally able to adopt me Feb. 17, 1999,” she said.
Christina was 9 when her adoption was finalized — the same age as Baylee.
“I think it’s an interesting thing that (Christina) got adopted at 9 and so did (Baylee),” Chad said.
Though the Longs knew they wanted to foster and adopt children, the pair first tried to conceive naturally.
“In 2013, I was told by doctors that I couldn’t have children … because I had a lot of health problems because my (birth) mom did stuff she wasn’t supposed to,” Christina said.
“We’ve always wanted to adopt and so that made it more clear that’s what we were supposed to do.”
Chad added: “If we couldn’t have our own kids, if that’s not what God wants for us, then we will give the love to the other kids that come in our lives.”
‘I needed to
be their kid’
Baylee has two other siblings that were adopted by one of her previous foster parents while she bounced around.
She lived with four foster families, including two stints in the same home, before finding the Longs.
It was love at first sight when she saw their picture.
“I knew they were a perfect match for me when I saw their pictures,” she said. “My momma’s really pretty and Daddy’s handsome and I knew they were a perfect match for each other … and I needed to be their kid.”
Students at Baylee’s school know she’s adopted and, while she’s been treated with kindness, the experience is still an adjustment.
“This one time I forgot how to spell my (new) name … and the teacher asked me how I spell my name … and she said, ‘You spelled your name wrong,’ and everyone looked at me and started laughing,” Baylee said.
This is the first Christmas season Baylee will have a permanent home, and she said she finally has a Christmas to look forward to because of her large, new family.
“I have a lot of family now. He has a family and stepfamily; she has a family. I haven’t even met all of the family,” she said.
“I have a lot of grandparents — I have a Nana and Grandpa, I have a Grammy and Dobby, a Gammy and Papa, and then a Mimi and Grandpa.”
The Longs are just one of 15 families working with Buckner Foster Care and Adoption in Amarillo who opened their heart to an adopted child this year.
“It’s been a really good year for Buckner — we’ve been able to help more foster children than we ever have in the past,” said Melissa Rainwater, foster care home developer/case manager at Buckner.
“If we stay on pace we’ll have 16 adoptions by the end of the year, which is almost twice the number of adoptions we had last year.”
It may have been a banner year for the agency and for children who no longer have to wonder where they will sleep or what school they will attend, but many remain without permanence and stability in their lives.
“There are over 6,000 kids waiting to be adopted … and over 30,000 kids that are in the foster care system just in Texas,” Rainwater said.
“Not everyone is called to be adoptive or foster care parents, but everyone is called to do something.
“There’s a lot of opportunities out there to help.”