DALLAS – When 2-year-old Jeremiah first arrived at the Williams’ home as a foster child, he couldn’t walk or crawl.
“He just scooted around on his bottom all around the house if you weren’t holding him,” said his mother Vanessa Williams. “For the first four months that we were caring for him and his siblings, all he would do was scream and cry.”
Today, at 4-years-old, Jeremiah is a very different child than the one that the Williams first met on April 15, 2008.
“He loves to run and laughs all of the time. He has truly changed,” she said.
Vanessa and Arthur Williams are foster group home parents through Buckner and live on the Buckner Children’s Home Campus. The Williams take in large groups of siblings so that they won’t be separated.
Jeremiah and his four siblings were the first children that the Williams fostered through Buckner.
“He has truly transformed since he first came to us,” Arthur Williams said. “During the first six months he was with us, we took a car trip to East Texas. Jeremiah screamed the whole two hours there and the two hours back. Now he loves car rides. He loves to travel with us, wherever we are going. As long as he gets to come too, he is happy.”
The Williams were not daunted by the challenges they faced in raising Jeremiah, who was diagnosed with autism shortly after coming into their home.
“When Jeremiah began to show signs of autism, we took him to doctors for treatment. He was 2-years-old, but his mind was still at the stage of a 1-year-old,” Vanessa said. “Now, he is learning sign language and his language and communication skills have greatly improved.”
Sheree Scott, Buckner foster care home developer said Arthur and Vanessa have been committed to helping Jeremiah with his needs from the very beginning.
“They went above and beyond what they needed to do for them. They thought of him as family from the moment he came through their front door,” she said.
Jeremiah’s brothers and sisters were eventually reunited with their relatives, but they couldn’t provide for Jeremiah’s special needs. So the Williams took him back in. But they maintained a relationship with Jeremiah’s birth family and would take him to visit about once a month.
On one of these visits, Arthur noticed a look in Jeremiah’s eyes when he saw his brothers and sisters.
“Jeremiah was filled with joy and happiness,” he said. “That’s when I realized if someone else adopts him, he wouldn’t be able to see his brothers and sisters, so I knew we had to adopt him. I couldn’t fathom seeing him lose everything.”
The Williams adopted Jeremiah on January 28, 2010. Arthur remembers telling his 14-year-old granddaughter what they were doing. “She said to me, ‘I am going to have an uncle who is 4-years-old?’ Now, she tells all of her friends that she has an uncle who is younger than her.”
Jeremiah is now the Williams’ twelfth child. Their children range in age from 2 to 30 years old.
The Williams also found support for their journey to become Jeremiah’s adoptive parents from the Buckner staff on the Children’s Home campus.
“Buckner’s staff is always encouraging us, whether it is with a sweet note or card, or just some encouraging words when we are having a harder day,” she said. “They have truly made the fostering and adoption of Jeremiah easier. It’s a team effort.”
- By Amy Stone
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