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This Forever Family Has an Unbreakable Bond

De’Andre found the perfect fit with the Fargasons. Left to right: De’Andre, Reid, Renee, Vivian, Patrick and Logan.

​​​​"Great!"

This simple statement is how a young boy of few words describes what it means to finally have his own forever family. 

De'Andre Fargason is an energetic 13-year-old with a "kind soul and beautiful smile." In March 2016, he was adopted from a Boys Town North Florida Family Home, where he had lived for two and a half years.

Today, De'Andre is surrounded by the love and stability of his new family – parents Renee and Patrick Fargason and three new siblings – who opened their hearts and embraced the teen as a son and brother.

Few would have predicted such a positive situation, given where De'Andre was just a few short years ago.

At the age of 10, he was left at an emergency shelter. It was the culmination of a tumultuous period in his young life.

De'Andre's mother was emotionally erratic. Parenting often overwhelmed her, and she frequently left De'Andre in the care of his grandmother. That arrangement, however, proved less than idyllic. Older and in poor health, Grandma's old-school approach to dealing with her grandson's mischief and defiance included heavy doses of physical punishment.

One unfortunate, yet inevitable, result of that abuse was a deep pool of pent-up resentment. 

According to De'Andre's Boys Town North Florida Family-Teachers®, Misty and Trinity Mackley, being told "No" was the trigger that led to many frustrating moments for the young boy in their care.

"Anger was his main issue throughout his time at Boys Town. He had trouble communicating his feelings verbally at home and school, so he would break things," explained Misty.

Addressing his anger issues took patience and a lot of teaching.

The Mackleys worked closely with De'Andre's elementary school in setting behavioral expectations and boundaries. Misty and Trinity also taught coping skills, including self-calming strategies, so he could take more control of his actions. This skill-based approach empowered De'Andre not to be a victim or a slave to his emotions.

When efforts to reunite De'Andre with his mom, who lived out of state, were unsuccessful, he became eligible for adoption. Eventually, the Wendy's Wonderful Kids Program helped connect the Fargasons with De'Andre and the Mackleys.

"De'Andre gave us a tour of his Boys Town home, and we shared a meal. He was very sweet," said Renee.

It was a gradual getting-to-know-you process. Renee and Patrick worked with the Mackleys over a four-month period to prepare themselves and De'Andre for their new life together.  

"De'Andre made deep connections with the Mackley family. He trusts them, and we continue to foster that relationship. I'm grateful to them, and know they truly love him," said Renee.

After nearly three years in the Family Home Program, the boy who was quick to destroy property during fits of anger had become a role model and protector to other youth.  

Now De'Andre is protective of his siblings and his forever family. He's embracing ​the role of big brother. He's making ​​happy memories. And best of all, he's feeling great about where he is and who he is.