In a quiet, Mesquite, Texas, neighborhood, we walk up to a red brick house and knock on the door. We’ve been here before, shortly after Buck and Stephanie Baskin adopted their first child. Their family has grown significantly since then.
Buck opens the door, holding 9-month-old Selah in his hands. Behind him, we hear the chipper and excited voice of 3-year-old James.
Buck and Stephanie have been doing foster care for four years.
“Scripture is very clear about it,” Stephanie says. “Everyone has to help somehow. The idea of kids not having a home didn’t settle well.”
We’re barely in the door before James is beside us, clamoring for our attention.
James: He’s rambunctious, talkative, inquisitive and friendly. When asked what he likes to do, he responds, “Be loud!”
“He’s all boy,” Buck says about his son. “He likes anything that rolls or bounces, and he can turn anything into an instrument. He can watch anything a couple of times and figure out how to do it.”
By this time, Niki ventures from her mother’s side, but she still hangs back a little.
Though slightly younger than James, she was placed in the Baskin home first in May 2013. James joined her two weeks later. While Buck and Stephanie previously only did foster care, with Niki and James, they were open to adoption.
“When we first got in, we learned that 60 percent of the kids went back home to their parents, and we realized that the goal is actually to get the families back together. So we made that our goal,” Buck says. “But the big thing is being open to the process because we also realized that once that doesn’t happen, you’re kind of the last option in a way whether those kids may or may not be in the system for a while. So we realized we need to be open to the idea of adoption as well.”
Niki: She’s more hesitant than her brother, but when she smiles, it lights up her face. And her cheerful giggle will drift through the room, uplifting your spirit.
“She likes to be with people,” Stephanie says. “She likes just being with us even if she’s quiet. She’s real empathetic to others and picks up on other people’s emotions real well.”
After the Baskins adopted Niki in November 2013 and James in May 2014, they thought they might continue to do foster care, but then Stephanie found out she was pregnant and decided to take a temporary break and focus on their family.
Selah: She is unmoved by the busyness of the room. She hardly utters a sound and lets her siblings squish her with hugs and kisses.
“She’s the most laid back, gentle spirit,” Stephanie continues. “She doesn’t get a chance to talk, as you can see. She doesn’t mind them being in her face all the time. This loudness doesn’t bother her. She just rolls with it.”
The Baskin family: They are full of love and respect for each other.
This is the new normal for Buck and Stephanie Baskin – full of tickle monsters and musical jam sessions. It has marathon sessions of playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos. They watch the pet turtle swim in his aquarium, and they laugh with each other.
“We’re a mess,” Stephanie says with a laugh. “We’re never on time, and I’ve learned that’s OK. And nothing’s ever clean, and that’s OK too.”
Looking at the Baskins, messy looks pretty good.
Story by Aimee Freston
Photos by Chelsea Q. White