When Pam Taylor and her husband, Mac, stepped out of their car at a waterskiing party to meet foster children available for adoption, they still had their heart set on adopting an infant. But then they met Mike, 7, and Trent, 9, brothers who had been in foster care for five years.
The Taylors spent the next few hours splashing with the boys in the water, tossing a Frisbee to them on the shore and listening to the youngsters tell jokes. Mac threw the kids into the lake as far as he could, and they would laugh as they ran back to him to be tossed again.
“I remember when they were playing with my husband for the first time, they had the biggest and brightest smile on their face and the most contagious laugh,” Pam said.
At the end of that afternoon early in the summer of 2009, the boys looked at Mac and Pam with hopeful eyes and asked whether they could come home with them. At that moment, the Wake Forest couple knew they had met their sons. They immediately began the process to become a family.
“People ask me all the time if it feels like the boys are our children, and the answer is absolutely yes,” Pam said. “I couldn’t possibly love them any more than I do, and we know that they were meant to be our children.”
Helping others create families
While adopting their sons, the Taylors quickly realized how many older children are in the foster care system and needed homes.
“You hear so many myths and misconceptions about kids in foster care, but they are just kids that need love,” Pam said.
After seeing the joy their sons brought to their life, they decided to start Mercy for America’s Children to help connect other families with children in the foster care system.
One of the nonprofit’s focuses is to hold match events, similar to the waterskiing day where the Taylors met their sons, to help prospective families spend time with children who need homes. Because a personal connection often helps families make the decision to adopt a child in foster care, match events have a high success rate. But the cost of holding the gatherings makes them few and far between.
“Without match events, parents simply read about the children through their profiles,” Pam said. “It is very hard to make such a big decision from an email.”
Mercy for America’s Children holds monthly support meetings for those going through the adoption process and provides resources, such as connections to adoption agencies. The group also takes foster children on outings, such as a recent martial arts and lunch afternoon.
Mercy for America’s Children is holding several fundraisers in the next few months to raise money for match events, including a golf tournament in June. Volunteers are needed to staff events and help with grant writing.
After being unable to conceive a child on their own, Kristen and Kyle Carlson of Zebulon attended a Mercy for America’s Children meeting and learned that more than 30,000 “age out” of the foster care system each year without a family to call their own.
“After hearing that number, we knew for sure that we wanted to adopt an older child,” Kristen said. “I want to help keep kids from having to go through that.”
While waiting to adopt a group of siblings, the Carlsons are attending monthly support meetings with the group and volunteering at events.
Being a family
In the past few years, the Taylors have settled into family life together. The boys changed their middle name to Mac, in honor of their dad.
Trent, now 11, has become involved in Mercy for America’s Children by speaking to prospective families and foster children. He plans to become a psychologist when he grows up so he can help other kids who have been through what he has. His brother, Mike, now 9, wants to be a dentist.
The boys spend their time playing with neighborhood friends, rooting for their dad’s alma mater, N.C. State, and taking martial arts classes.
“Our boys have had such an impact on our hearts and our life,” Pam said. “I want other families to find the joy that we have and the wonderful kids out there to find the forever home that they so deserve.”