By Jenny Pope
MIDLAND, Texas – The Ewing family does everything together – they wash dishes, go grocery shopping, and spend hours play Wii games in the living room.
“We’ve got to do everything together. If we don’t, we won’t have time together,” Robert said.
As a single father to five boys and foster parent to one, Ewing said each day is filled with non-stop activity. Wake up at 5 a.m. Breakfast at 6. Baby goes to daycare. Dad goes to work. Big brother Dominic walks the little ones to the bus stop. Robert gets off work at 2 and picks up the baby while Dominic greets the other boys at the bus. They eat snacks. Do homework. Play, eat and go to bed.
“Then we do it all over again,” he said. “My day is very full, but it’s workable and doable.”
Robert wouldn’t have it any other way.
Adopting six boys was never in Robert’s plan. But after hosting some exchange students in his home more than 16 years ago, he knew parenting was something he could do.
“When I first started the [foster care and adoption] process, CPS told me ‘No way.’ It would never be possible for me as a single male to adopt,” he remembered. But Ewing was persistent. After sitting through hours of pre-service training, he endured a grueling home study process and opened his life to all kinds of scrutiny.
“They took their time, but eventually said OK,” he said.
He was handed multiple anonymous case files of children available for adoption and selected two brothers – Dominic, age 10, who suffered a stroke at age 4; the Damon, age 6, who had severe ADHD. Ewing was familiar with these conditions, he said. His own father suffered from multiple strokes and he was ADHD as a child. When he was later told the boys were African American, it didn’t faze him.
“I was drawn to them,” he said, and in 1995, Domonic and Damon became his sons. One year later, he adopted his third son, Devon. The boys adjusted well in their new family, but Devon continued to struggle with a number of emotional problems. Tragically, on November 17, 2007, he was killed in a high school fight.
Robert and the boys did their best to cope with the grief. Robert worked all the time while Dominic and Damon buried themselves in video games.
“After about a year, I looked up and thought we’ve got to keep moving. It wasn’t healthy,” Robert said.
He knew his older boys would be gone soon and couldn’t bear the thought of an empty home. He had been looking into adoption before Devon passed away, so he decided to go forward with the process and called Buckner. He became licensed as a foster parent but knew he wanted to adopt.
Within a few months, the opportunity was presented to him – three brothers needed a home. And the youngest boy had a special birth date – November 17 – the day Devon died. The minute he saw that date, he knew it was part of God’s plan.
“God made him two years to the day before he knew what was going to happen to Devon. There’s definitely a master plan,” he said.
The brothers – Darrios, 7; Dante, 7; and Daeshawn, 5 – were living in a foster home in Dallas, so Robert took his older sons with him for a visit. Dominic and Damon were a bit apprehensive about it at first.
“I didn’t like it,” Dominic said. “I thought we had enough kids. I thought they were going to be my replacement … but they grew on me. Then I started to like them more and more.”
“We’re like their shining knights,” Damon added. “They’re all spoiled, but there’s something special about them.”
On Sept. 30, 2010, the adoption was finalized and the Ewing family grew by three.
Ewing said he wants all of his sons to be “happy, educated, healthy and know they are loved. I strive to lead by example, to show them and live by the RED – respect, equality and dignity.”
Ewing cut back on his work hours so he could spend more time with his kids. He works hard with a team of people – doctors, teachers, psychiatrists and therapists – to help the younger boys reach their full potential. Since coming into his home, all but one has completely stopped taking medication.
“I want to make a difference,” Robert said. “The career part, I had that. My heart is here.”
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