Alex Childers had spent his whole life going from one foster home to the next, never settling into a safe and secure family.
When he was 10 years old he had already lived in a Russian orphanage, been adopted into a neglectful home and spent time in both group foster homes and with foster families.
It was while staying with one of those foster families that he met his future parents, Scott and Beverly Childers.
â€œWe really had not planned to adopt. We really just met Alex,â€ said Beverly. â€œI loved him. He just stood out to me.â€
The three first met at the Childersâ€™ church where Alexâ€™s foster parents attended. Scott was a Sunday school teacher.
â€œHe was very mannerly,â€ said Scott. â€œHe really had a lot of Bible knowledge to be 10 years old. I was teaching Sunday school, and he answered every question.â€
The mutual love of Christianity was something that eventually drew the family together.
â€œTheyâ€™re very Christian,â€ said Alex. â€œIâ€™m a big Christian person. I love worshipping God. I taught myself to be like that.â€
Beverly took immediate notice of Alex in part because of his short arm, a disability he has had since birth.
â€œWith me, children that have special needs, they just stand out to me automatically,â€ said Beverly. â€œI just have the desire to help them I think.â€
Now 15, Alex doesnâ€™t remember the first meeting with his parents. The Childers, however, remember it vividly. They also recall when they first learned Alex was up for adoption.
â€œWe really felt like he was to be part of our family, but we really donâ€™t have control as far as what the DSS decided,â€ said Scott. â€œIt was kind of hard on us both.â€
While the couple went through the adoption process, Alex lived with them in their home. Within a week, he was calling them â€œMomâ€ and â€œDad.â€
â€œI chose this family. I felt at home,â€ said Scott. â€œThey were kind. I was an only child, and thatâ€™s how I liked it.â€
The Childers were able to officially adopt Alex at the age of 11.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t that we wanted someone older,â€ said Beverly. â€œIt was just Alex himself. Age really didnâ€™t have anything to do with it.â€
The Childers were not average in their decision to adopt an older child. Most hopeful parents seek out children under the age of five.
â€œI think people are a little gun-shy, a little afraid to tackle a child that they think has a lot more baggage than a three-year-old,â€ said Sandy Kennedy, supervisor of foster care and adoption at the Lincoln County Department of Social Services. â€œWell, thatâ€™s not always the case.â€
Kennedy hopes potential parents will learn from successful stories such as the Childersâ€™.
â€œThere are older children who have turned out remarkably well given the circumstance,â€ said Kennedy.
Alex, who was once one of more than 20 children living in a neglectful home, is a good example of that.
â€œI was pretty miserable,â€ he said. â€œI was very excited to get out.â€
After the DSS intervened, he bounced from one temporary home to another.
Now, living with the Childers, he has a constant source of love and attention.
â€œI get to play sports. I get to go to church. If I ask something, theyâ€™ll supply it at the best of their will,â€ said Alex. â€œTheyâ€™re always wanting me to succeed in life.â€
Alexâ€™s father coaches him on his schoolâ€™s junior varsity basketball team where he was voted Most Valuable Player last year. He hopes to one day play for the NBA.
The Childersâ€™ extended family also treat Alex as one of their own.
â€œEveryone here doesnâ€™t think about the fact Iâ€™m adopted,â€ said Alex. â€œI mean, even I donâ€™t.â€
His parents say they canâ€™t imagine a time when he was not their son, and Alex has no urge to seek out his Russian birth parents.
â€œRight now Iâ€™m just fine the way I am,â€ he said. â€œReally, I donâ€™t feel thereâ€™s a need if they left me at 2 to look for them.â€
Alex doesnâ€™t speak about his troubled past often, and his new parents donâ€™t push him to do so.
Instead, the teenager has settled into his new life, and heâ€™s already making plans for both college and career. His parents fully support him.
â€œHeâ€™s got a good head on his shoulders,â€ said Scott. â€œHeâ€™s going to do all he can do to make the best out of life.â€
The Lincoln County Department of Social Services currently has 45 children in foster care.
Of those 45 children, 11 are up for adoption, six of whom have found homes.
The five remaining children who need homes range in age from 11 to 17 years old.
To become an adoptive parent, one must go through 30 hours of state required training. After the training is completed, applicants will have a pre-placement assessment.
Included in this assessment are interviews with a social worker, reference checks, criminal history checks, finger print checks, drug testing and physicals. Financial and emotional stability must also be proven.
Approximately 7 million Americans are adopted. Each year around 140,000 children are adopted by American families. As many as 100 million Americans have adoption in their immediate family.
For more information on adoption or foster parenting in Lincoln County call the DSS at 704-732-0738.
by Sarah Grano