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Texas Couple Creates Forever Family with Love, Determination

As Dene watched her stepchildren ​pack their possessions and move out of her home, she grieved. She was losing the family she had loved.

Kyle, Kayla and Alex, the children from her husband Aaron’s previous marriage, were leaving to live with their mom. Dene knew it was important for them to have a relationship with her, and she knew they would be well provided for and safe.

But that didn’t stop Dene’s heart from breaking. Caring for them as a mother was an emotionally rewarding and enriching time, and helped Dene realize how much she wanted a family.

“I knew there were so many kids out there that needed to be loved and wanted to be loved,” Dene said.

After conversations with Aaron, both agreed to “jump in” and open their home to foster children. Dene and Aaron attended a foster/adoption event sponsored by the state of Texas, where they learned about Boys Town Texas Foster Family Services ®. Impressed by the program, the couple signed on to become Boys Town Foster Parents.

For three months, Dene and Aaron spent their Saturdays getting trained in everything from CPR to medications to Boys Town Common Sense Parenting ® techniques. The preparation was thorough and thought-provoking.

“We learned you can’t take a broken child and expect him to act normal,” explained Dene. “That’s just unfair because in his mind, he is acting normal. You have to build him up again, love him and guide him. Boys Town gave us the tools to do that.”

When they completed their training, the couple took in a young boy and girl whom they wanted to adopt. But it wasn’t to be; the children eventually returned to their own family. Dene was left brokenhearted again but not disillusioned.

“You go into foster parenting knowing kids may go back to their family. You always need to have the mindset that it’s okay if they go back. You do what’s best for the child, not for you. You have to have a selfless attitude,” Dene said.

It wasn’t long before the couple opened their home again, this time to an infant boy named Christian. The couple jumped at the opportunity, optimistic they might be able to adopt the baby. And they weren’t done yet. Dene and Aaron wanted a big family, and agreed to take in foster siblings. Two months later, 5-year-old Abigail and her 4-year-old sister Ruthanne entered their lives… like a buzz saw.

The first few days with the pint-sized siblings were nightmarish.

“They had temper tantrums about three times a day for at least two hours at a time. Kicking, screaming, fighting, biting, making holes in the walls, you name it. It was bad,” Dene recalled.

The girls’ wild behaviors were a product of their tumultuous start in life. After their biological parents were stripped of their parental rights, the sisters moved into a motel room with an abusive aunt. Later, they were placed in a foster-to-adopt home with a couple that was so neglectful, their foster care license was revoked. When the girls finally came to Dene and Aaron, they were broken.

The intensity and unpredictability of the sisters’ behaviors left the couple questioning how they could manage.

But by relying on their Boys Town training, the encouragement of their Boys Town Foster Family Consultant, intensive counseling and strong faith, they found a way to connect with the girls.

Abigail and Ruthanne had severe anxiety and few coping skills, so Dene and Aaron spent countless hours soothing and teaching. They prepared the girls for new situations by explaining expectations and setting boundaries so the sisters wouldn’t get overwhelmed and have meltdowns. They also taught coping skills, including self-calming strategies, so the girls could see they had some control over their lives.

All that effort and patience slowly paid off. Now, the hours-long tantrums are a distant memory. Abigail is flourishing in kindergarten, making friends and excelling in math. For Ruthanne, the road was a bit rockier. The preschooler had difficulty adjusting to the classroom, so she’s being temporarily homeschooled. But Ruthanne is learning to read, gaining confidence and asking when she can get back on the school bus.

Both girls bonded with Christian and have become very protective of their little brother. Most importantly, all three don’t have to worry about being uprooted again. They have their forever family now, and Mom credits Boys Town for not letting her or the family give up.

“I carried a heavy anxiety about the possibility of losing my kids,” Dene admitted. “But that moment when I realized no one was ever going to take them away, it was like all the burdens got wiped away. Without Boys Town, we wouldn’t have our family.”

 

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