Walking into the Hernandez’s Odessa home, you are greeted by eight warm and friendly smiles—Richard and Bonnie Hernandez, their five adopted children and a sweet little boy who is currently in their foster care. It’s a full house, indeed.
Richard and Bonnie, who say they always wanted a family, called Buckner Foster Care and Adoption after talking with a foster family at church, and the Hernandez family practically grew overnight. The day after they received their license, Richard and Bonnie received a call from Buckner about their first foster care placement—a sibling group of four.
“We went from zero to four. We were terrified. They were terrified. It was joyful and fearful at the same time,” Richard recalls of the day the kids arrived.
Two and a half years later, Richard and Bonnie adopted those siblings—Mercedes, 13, Hannah, 12, Elijah, 11, and Jericho, 9. Two years later, Dezmen, 5, joined the family through foster-to-adopt.
“I tell these kids, ‘Thank you for letting us adopt you.’ They have to accept us as well. We let them know it’s an honor for us to have them in our home,” Richard says.
Richard and Bonnie, who met at church and have been married for 20 years, are natural parents, evidenced by the faith, joy and love that marks their home. The sweet, polite and well-mannered nature of the youngest members of the Hernandez clan is clear proof, too. Dezmen walks up to the kitchen table, and Richard pauses to ask if he has a question. “I’ll wait,” Dezmen politely replies.
The Hernandez family is actively involved in their church, recalling a courtroom full of church friends on their adoption days, and they speak fondly of playing games and signing karaoke together as a family. They also talk, as a family, about their goals and aspirations often, too. Mercedes wants to be a writer; Hannah, a doctor, Elijah, a mechanic, Jericho, a police officer or astronaut, and little Dezmen, a runner.
“I want to make sure these kids feel loved, that they’re well-rounded, that they have their own personalities, that they’re their own individual,” Richard says. “They need to learn how to have a voice in society. They’re great little powerhouses.”
Many of the Hernandez kids say they want to foster when they get older, and they are already caring for the children in foster care who come through their house.
“Our children have been so instrumental in aiding the foster kids who come through this house,” Richard says. “We’ve had 17 foster kids, and our kids just embrace them, comfort them, and let them know, ‘we were once where you’re at.’ They just want to nurture them.”
While Richard and Bonnie talk a lot about the blessings of foster care and adoption, they also acknowledge the struggles of so many uncertainties and ups-and-downs, crediting their faith in keeping them grounded.
“Right when we feel like ‘what in the world is going to happen?,’ God is right there,” Bonnie says.
So despite the challenges, the Hernandez family will continue to answer what they feel is a call from the Lord to care for and love on children in foster care as long as they can.
“If we can get as many through this house as we can,” Richard says, “we’ve done our part.”
Click here to find out more information about Buckner foster care and adoption.