Each day, Ben Shelton tells his 8-year-old son, Banks, the four things he needs to know:
- You are loved. Love transcends all. It is something that is given to you.
- You will be part of this family forever. You are secure in the Shelton home.
- You are being raised to be a “big man,” meaning we are helping you grow every day.
- I believe in you. I will never give up on you.
The bond of family is thick and deep in the Shelton household in Longview, Texas. The four of them – Ben, Deena, Banks and 6-year-old Everly – have been connected before they were together. For months, Deena and Ben prayed three to four times a week for the children they would eventually adopt through Buckner before they even knew their names.
Ben became emotional when he first heard Banks’ voice. “I was in a staff meeting at our church. I was like ‘Uh … uh … uh [gesturing that tears streamed down his face].’ I was at a loss for words.”
The weeks of prayer came to fruition when the couple first met Banks and Everly at a Chick-fil-A. The children greeted Deena and Ben by running across the restaurant and jumping into their arms.
“When we got home, they were so happy,” Deena said. “We had bumps along the way, but it just felt right. Our kids were home. We needed them with us.”
The adoption of Banks and Everly in 2013 was the fulfillment of a long-held desire to adopt. The couple talked about it while they were dating. Every time they discussed growing their family, the conversation always circled back to adoption.
“We grew closer together and stronger in what we were going to do,” Deena said. “We believe God guides our hearts and gives us desire. We had such a strong desire to do this.”
Banks and Everly found mounds of toys and books waiting for them at the Shelton home. “I really liked watching VeggieTales,” Everly said.
For Banks, adoption meant “getting to have parents.” He is home. And, as his dad tells him every day, it’s his home forever.