The Mathis Family:
Parents Pamela and Clint with Adopted Children Troy, Selena, Whitney, Emil and Elma
Pamela and Clint Mathis already had a large family with four children when they chose to adopt her three half-siblings in 2005. Now the Mathis' are completing the adoption of two more teenagers; a brother and sister they met at church.
"There were no foster homes around here willing to take them in. No one wants the older kids with more baggage," said Pam. "So these older teens are shipped off to 30-day shelters across the state until they turn 18 and never have a chance to have a stable home. We wanted to provide that for these kids."
The Mathis' chose public adoption because they see so many children without homes. Pamela's mother lost her three children to the state and her half-siblings were in foster care for a year and a half before she found out about their situation. Eight months later, on National Adoption Day, the Mathis' had completed the adoption of her half-brother Troy and her half-sisters Selena and Whitney.
"The most intimidating part is not knowing if you have what it takes to turn these kids around," said Pam. "You know where they come from, but do you have what it takes to love, guide, and heal them?"
The Mathis' might have had doubts and there was certainly an adjustment period for everyone involved, but her brothers and sisters have been transformed. They have gone from D and F students to making A's and B's. They are on the Honor Roll and are now considering higher education. Pamela's half-brother Troy, who suffers from severe ADHD, fetal alcohol syndrome and emotional problems, has completely turned around.
Pamela adds, "The transition takes time. At times they were rebellious because they were not used to discipline and boundaries. You have to be patient and stick with the rules, always letting them know rules are in place because we love them. It takes work, but it's worth it. None of them are the same children."
Emil and Elma are the newest additions to the Mathis family. Elma was a friend of Natasha, Pamela's daughter, and also attended their church. The Mathis' knew of their mother's history and wanted to give Emil and Elma a family and a support system.
"There will always be tough times, but you get over it and you see the benefits. The kids need time to adjust. They need to know they can trust you - that you won't leave or abandon them if there is a problem," said Pam. "The rewards are endless and it's a joy watching these kids turn around and progress into different children once they have a real stable family."
Their four biological children have welcomed their new brothers and sisters with open arms, never losing sight of how lucky they are to have a permanent, loving family. Expanding the family has been a humbling experience for the Mathis', teaching them the importance of permanency and family.
"It's influenced us in a great way. We feel good about being able to love these children, watch them blossom and share in their transformation," said Pam. "We would do it again and again. There is a great reward. It feels like they've been part of the family forever."