Published October 17, 2013
The Florida church where an 15-year-old orphan pleaded for a family to adopt him has been "flooded" with phone calls.
"It has been just an awesome outpour," Cynthia Coney, a secretary at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, said. "We've been getting calls from as far as Utah and forwarding them to his adoption agency."
Two weeks ago, Davion Navar Henry Only, 15, dressed in a dark suit and borrowed tie, told the packed church that he was seeking a family to call his own. His requirements were simple.
"I'll take anyone," he said, according to The Tampa Bay Times. "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don't care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be."
Coney said she was moved by the boy's appeal and asked her husband, who was sitting next to her if they could adopt Only.
"He said we don't have the room," she said. "But he agreed that he would have loved to."
The Rev. Brian Brown introduced Only after giving a sermon touching on a letter from the disciple Paul, who wrote about being in prison "awaiting an uncertain future."
"You may be in a dark place," Brown said, according to The Times. "But look for joyful moments when you can praise God."
Only is no stranger to that dark place. He was born while his mother was in jail and has never had a permanent home, the report said.
Last summer, Only tried to find his biological mother, but instead found her obituary, the report said. She had died a few weeks earlier.
"He's starting to put himself out there, which is hard after you’ve been rejected so many times," Floyd Watkins, the program director at Eckerd's Carlton Manor, told the paper.
Only dreams of playing football. He has been living with a dozen other teenage boys at the group home in St. Petersburg. His activities are recorded and he is required to get someone to unlock the bathroom for use, The Tampa Bay Times' report said.
Joe Kroll, the director of the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), said statistics show that when a child reaches the age of nine, chances of adoption decrease significantly.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' most current report says there are 399,548 children in foster care. The average age is about nine years old. According to a poll by the NACAC, fewer than 10 percent of children adopted from foster care are between 14 and 17.
Kroll, who worked in the agency for 38 years, said although most families prefer younger children, there are families willing to take in older children. These include empty nesters, single teachers who work (and like) teenagers and young couples that feel that they can relate to teens.
He said it is not unheard of when a teenager, desperate for a family, markets himself. He pointed to a case eight years ago in the San Francisco area where a high school student videotaped himself with fellow football players in a shot at adoption. The video worked, and the teen was adopted, Kroll said.
There is no age limit to when a person can be adopted, Kroll said, recalling a woman who was adopted in her late 30s.
Coney said with the outpouring of support, it is only a matter of time Only finds a home.
"He'll get there," she said. "You'll see."