A bouncing baby boy arrived at the hospital in November 2000 to a young mom who quickly abandoned him. The name portrayed on his birth certificate only said “infant.”
The baby’s life didn’t get much easier. He remained in the hospital for a week with no attention shown to him except for routine care provided by the nursing staff.
A biological grandmother eventually arrived and claimed him. But when she had a stroke and became wheelchair-bound, a now 12-year-old Randall’s world changed again.
For four years, Randall bounced between relatives’ homes where he was neglected and the only attention paid to him was in the form of abuse.
He was exposed to drugs, developed explosive anger tendencies and became difficult to raise. He hated his life and the world he had been abandoned in.
Randall called child protective services himself and told them he was homeless and needed help.
His life plan was to emancipate himself from his birth mother and get a job somewhere like Walmart, living off of Ramen noodles.
But when Randall was 16, he had a chance encounter with Peter and Casey Douglas. The young couple had just earned their foster care and adoption licenses and, unlike many interested in fostering, they were seeking a teenager to care for.
Someone whose life they could hopefully have a positive and loving impact on.
The first teenager they asked about was ready to age out of the system and wasn’t interested in the love and attention they couldn’t wait to lavish on someone. But when their social worker asked if they would embrace an emergency foster situation ASAP, Casey said yes.
“‘I don’t need to pray again about the prayer God has already answered…”
However, Peter hesitated.
He suggested they pray first instead. His prayer began with ‘Lord?’ Then he looked up and said…
“She’s right, bring him.”
Three hours later, a straggly boy named Randall walked through their door lugging two small bags and a little fishing pole. He was dressed in threadbare, dirty clothes.
“He was ours and we knew it.”
It wasn’t an easy adjustment though.
“When we met him he was very closed off and angry at the world, which is to be expected from what he went through. We started to notice a change when he came home and threw himself on his bed in a puddle of tears. I sat by him and pat his back. He looked at me and said, ‘I have waited my entire life to be treated the way y’all treat me. I have never had real parents before.’ Now, he’s secure and confident and knows where he belongs in the world, and he feels like he has the ability to be the person he wants to be. He is friendly, he is outgoing, he is insanely athletic, talented beyond measure.”
But 10 weeks after Randall arrived at their home, he was taken away from them. A volunteer supposedly lied about an incident and a judge ordered that the teen be taken to a residential treatment center.
The couple went to court and fought “tooth and nail” with the help of volunteers. Randall’s own biological mom begged the judge in court to let her son stay with the Douglases.
Not only were they granted permanent guardianship of the 16-year-old boy, but when he turned 18, they made him an official member of the family.
“So many times he would beg for us to keep him, and so many times he tried to push us away to protect his heart. One day we got home and he burst into tears and asked me to make a promise he was sure was selfish. He said, ‘Mom, can I stay even after I’m 18, and will you promise to tuck me in even if it’s awkward?’ That was the easiest promise I could ever make to my son. He would always be ours.”
On Jan. 10, Randall became a Douglas, surrounded by family and a blanket of prayer. Casey shared their beautiful story and long journey on Facebook where people embraced what they had done.
But the Douglases are quick to point out that they didn’t share their story on social media for the attention but rather to help others see just how much of an amazing impact someone can have on a child through fostering and adoption.
Randall shared in a video he posted on YouTube how ecstatic he was to finally have the family he had longed for as a child.
“I have a name now, instead of ‘infant,’ and I have parents on my birth certificate.”
Peter confessed to Randall that he has been and always will be an important part of his life.
“From this moment forward, from today till the end of time, I will be your father and you will be my son. This means that your needs, now and forever, come before mine. It also means I get to tell you what to do, whether you like it or not.”
Some naysayers have chastized Casey for not wanting biological children.
“I would never adopt a child I didn’t raise, they have so much baggage.”
But she knew in her heart what she had been called to do.
“From before the time I met my husband, I knew I was not the kind of person that would bear children. I knew it in my soul like I knew how to breathe. The weight of that didn’t hit me until a man showed up that wanted me for a wife. Being a pastor’s daughter with a Christian background meant marrying a nice man and bearing enough children to fill out the pew on Sunday morning, but God’s plan for me was different.”
The young couple worked with students in a low-income area and saw firsthand how these children were lost souls full of hurt, pain and suffering. They dedicated themselves to helping these children, going so far as to prevent pregnancy between the two of them. Again, the comments were so hurtful.
“‘You won’t even give your husband children; how could you raise someone else’s kids?’ … ‘You’re a waste of a good uterus.'”
Randall has been and always will be Casey and Peter’s son. A beloved child that they had pined for, who brightens their day. And they know what a difference they’ve made in his life, too.
“Parenthood came to us in a really unconventional way, but it has been more than I could have ever hoped for. In two years Randall has come so far and continues to grow every day. The boy whose dream was to smoke pot and get by on his own is now a new person. He will tell you, ‘I never dreamed of things like going to college or having a family, but now I have support and I am living a life I never even thought I could have.’”
To help Randall cling to his roots, Peter and Casey maintain ties with some of his family members. They continue to foster and adopt teenagers and Randall just might become a big brother to a couple of other siblings.
God bless the Douglas family for opening their hearts to fostering and adoption, and may Randall continue to have a bright and promising future.
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