The Copeland family home feels like a movie. Six children are laughing together with joy. Some of them are playing in the backyard on the trampoline while others play with the new puppy, Rosie. Mom and dad laugh and play alongside them. You can’t help but smile.
From this brief peek in, you would never know the trauma the children or the parents have walked through. Both journeys have been difficult and challenging – but that ultimately created the Copeland family seen laughing and joyful together today.
Steven and Rachelyn Copeland are raising six children, 11 and under. There is Misty (11), Lucas (10), Addison (9), Benjamin (5), Jayden “JJ” (4), and their youngest and biological son, Sawyer (3). They are inseparable. Thanks to Steven and Rachelyn, the five siblings didn’t have to be separated for long.
Steven grew up in a broken home. Both parents struggled with drug abuse and when he was 11, his grandmother officially adopted him. His sister went to live with the other set of grandparents. The way his grandmother took him in as her own planted a seed.
“I have always wanted to adopt, but truly we wanted to get into foster care to support foster children more than jump into adoption,” Steven shared.
Rachelyn and Steven were married for three years, but didn’t have any children.
“But I knew God wanted us to have children,” Rachelyn said. “I really started to feel the confirmation that foster care and adoption was God’s will.”
The couple began paperwork and training in Odessa, Texas, with Buckner. Then, they found out they were pregnant with Sawyer.
In July 2017, they welcomed home their first placement – a 4-year-old needing emergency housing. Living in a two-bedroom apartment, the couple decided they would only be able to handle one foster care child at a time, unless it was a sibling group.
“We didn’t ever want to break up siblings. Keeping them together was the most important,” Steven said. “My sister and I got separated and lived with different grandparents. Keeping siblings together was always a big thing for me. We saw each other, but it’s so different from the way you see other when you live together.”
In 2019, the Copelands received a call in the middle of the night that would change the rest of their lives.
“We get a call if we can take an emergency placement of a 3-year-old boy that’s at the hospital right now,” Rachelyn said. “He had been picked up around 10 p.m. and we didn’t get home from the hospital until about 5 a.m.”
“We found out he had siblings,” Steven continued the story. “Three were placed at a shelter and the other little one, Jayden, didn’t have a placement yet. He had stayed the night at the hospital and then the CPS office."While the agencies were looking to place the siblings, there was a home available in College Station, a seven-hour drive away. The couple decided if they could find a way to make it work, having all the siblings in the same city would be the best option. With the help of Buckner and other foster families, they found a way to keep all five children within the same town and in only two foster homes.
Every Sunday, the families gathered for dinner and quality time. By November 2019, the children needed a more permanent home. Finding a home that can fit five more kids is no easy feat. While still living in their two-bedroom apartment, Steven and Rachelyn began contemplating the idea.
“We can’t even fit them all in one car,” Steven said with a laugh. “We live in Odessa where places large enough for these kids are out of our budget.”
Adding to the puzzle, COVID-19 had recently shut down the country.
“Then my grandmother got cancer and decided to move to the Dallas area with her daughter,” Steven said.
Yet again, his grandmother poured out what Steven needed. She signed the deed of her house in Brownfield, right outside of Lubbock, over to the Copelands. And through Steven’s birth father’s support, they were able to purchase a large van.
Everything seemed to be falling in place for this future family of eight.
With the pandemic, they were able to start the process of slowly moving and transitioning to Buckner in Lubbock. Steven even found a job teaching math in Brownfield.
“At first the only opening they had was special ed, which I don’t have much experience with,” he said. “But the day I went in for my interview, they called me and told me a fourth-grade math position also opened up. That’s literally what I’ve taught for the last five years.”
In June after being re-licensed with Buckner in Lubbock, the other three children moved in with the Copelands from the previous foster care home. The five siblings were under one roof again.
The last puzzle piece for the family? Adoption.
On October 28, 2020, the Copelands welcomed Misty, Lucas, Addison, Benjamin and JJ into the family forever.