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Family’s step of faith leads to unexpected joy

November 6, 2014

November is National Adoption Month


Melissa and Richard Douglass of Bartlett, Tennessee, are among the wonderful people who have chosen to help children in need by becoming foster parents for Youth Villages in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.

Melissa took the time to write the story of her family’s experience in hopes of encouraging others to help. Please take a few minutes to read her inspiring account.

Adopting Bryson, by Melissa Douglass

The adoption process for us began with foster care. Foster care was a way for us to be obedient to the scriptural mandate to minister to orphans in their time of need. We learned that there were approximately 1,200 children in the foster care system in Shelby County alone. Our 21-year-old daughter had moved out and we were now empty nesters.

We felt that God was leading us to step up and do our part. It was totally a step of faith, as we had no opinion as to what type of child we would foster other than we wanted a child 6 years of age or younger. We had no gender or racial preferences. We had no intentions to adopt at the time we signed up for classes with Youth Villages to gain approval to be foster parents. As a matter of fact we had made the statement several times that we were not going to adopt. How ironic!

We completed the training and received approval. Approximately two months later, we received a call to provide respite care for our first child, a young man named Bryson. The weekend of respite with Bryson was certainly challenging, but provided us with no clue as to what we would ultimately be getting ourselves into. We were told that our weekend of respite care with Bryson would be somewhat of a test case for a possible long-term situation.

After spending the weekend with Bryson, we were excited about the possibility of having him on a longer-term basis. But, to our dismay, Youth Villages informed us that Bryson would be moved to Nashville for placement. It was a real letdown. We prayed that if it were God’s will for us to have him, things would not work out in Nashville. Within the week, we received a call asking if we were still open to foster Bryson. A placement could not be found for him in Nashville!

We knew then that Bryson was meant to be in our home. And the journey began. The journey was nothing like what we had expected. We had no idea what we would experience in the coming months. It was hard to believe that a 5-year-old, 40-pound little boy could have so much anger, hurt, and rage inside. He was very aggressive and destructive. We really struggled and prayed that God would give us the wisdom and strength needed to deal with Bryson.

Youth Villages was great! They were always there when we needed them. And this was often. We made many calls for counselors to come out to the house. The counselors were sympathetic to our struggles and provided us with great support. They became almost like family to us.

To learn more about adoption through Youth Villages in Tennessee, visit our website at For information about adopting through foster care no matter where you live, visit

Although this was the most difficult thing we had ever done in our lives, we decided that we could not give up on Bryson. We were his 10th foster home. We could not let him go back to the system. He already had attachment issues, and we felt this would be very destructive for him. Throughout the 20 months of fostering Bryson, we grew to love him deeply. Our total reticence to adopt had been turned on its head. We had now become Mom and Dad to Bryson. A detached, angry, sad little boy had now become a very attached happy, loving child.

On Aug. 25, Bryson became our son forever. On Sept. 1, approximately 25 members of the Douglass family and a couple of close friends held a “Welcome to the Douglass Family” party for Bryson.

A big sister, uncles, aunts, and cousins all let Bryson know that he is now family — FOREVER!

It is such a blessing to hear him pray every night, “Thank you God for my family, and thank you for my mom and dad, and thank you that I am now a Douglass.”

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