Their family is well known in Smith County but their story of adoption is not. They've set an example for our community to give back. One of the most selfless things they have ever done was to help a child. Here's their story in KLTV 7's Gift of Love report.
It was 1968. He was born of a young girl, still in high school. She knew she couldn't take care of him. "She got to see me for a very short time before they took me away," remembers Joel Baker.
This tiny baby was put up for adoption for $900. "It just made sense. So we borrowed the money." CC Baker goes on to say, "I think if people are willing to take a risk based on love it can be beneficial."
CC and Brenda Baker of Tyler named the baby, Joel. "There was always a hidden knowledge that Joel had the attributes to not only be special to us but, to be special in this world and so we gave him everything we could," says CC.
Joel grew up surrounded by love and support. He graduated from Texas A&M and became a lawyer. Earlier this year he was elected Smith County judge.
Joel says, "It is just a real blessing that my parents wanted me and brought me to live here in Tyler."
"Joel brought to us a ray of hope. He was special. As we were struggling with Allison's situation Joel was the balancing point," says CC.
Allison, was the Baker's biological daughter. She was born with an incurable disease and had a limited time to live. "I know that Joel and Allison were very close. I know that a natural born child could not have been closer to Allison than Joel was," says CC remembering fond memories of their childhood.
Because of Allison's disease, it was recommended the Baker's have no more biological children. So they decided to adopt. Joel says, "She brought a lot of joy to my life in many ways and I do owe her for me being given the gift of this family. This wonderful family that I grew up with."
His sister's disease helped instill a life lesson. "Compassion for other people that are less fortunate," says Joel.
Allison lived to be almost 26. Joel missed his sister and treasured the time with his family even more. But as the years went on, Joel felt something was missing. He wanted to find his biological parents.
'I was somewhat shocked," recalls CC. "What if he decides that they're better looking, got more money and they're cool and you're not and they abandon you?"
But soon their shock turned to support. "As Brenda likes to say, 'It is more people to love Joel. It expands our love to them and our thankfulness to them for sharing that precious baby at a critical time in our lives and their lives."
Joel began his search sending out hundreds of letters. "One of the letters I sent out ended up on the desk of my birth mother's best friend and that really started things rolling."
In 1989, Joel met his biological mother, Karen. He discovered a striking resemblance to Brenda his adoptive mother. A short time later, he met his biological father, Rob.
'It felt like I had finally discovered the missing pieces that I wanted to learn about and they're a wonderful family," said Joel.
"They're a part of our family and we'd like to think we're a part of theirs," says CC about his new found relatives.
Joel now has a family of his own; a wife and 3 beautiful children.
CC says, "I think it's through our children that our greatest gifts come back to us."
And it all started with the greatest gift they gave, the Gift of Love. "I love them and I thank them so much for the blessings they have given me in my life."
Joel Baker takes over as the new Smith County judge in January.
If you'd like to know more about adoption call our Gift of Love hotline, toll free, 1-888-kids-275.
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