On a spring afternoon in a small East Texas town called Possum Trot, two young boys head outside to run off some energy. Their names are Randy and Neon; typical boys. But just four years ago, they were anything but typical. They had no home, no family.
In fact, Randy thought children were supposed to eat off the floor, like animals. Diane Sparks heard their story, and decided to give them a loving home. "I love my mom," says Randy with a shy grin. Diane gives him a hug as she says, "It changed my whole life, it really did. I didn't realize there were so many children out there that didn't have a home and my heart just went out to them. It was just an honor for me to do this. I'm not going to say it was easy."
Diane works long hours, six days a week to provide for them. On top of that, she has the job of keeping up with two small children, never knowing what problem might come up next. "I have been in the hospital because I was stressed out, but I pray and ask God to give me strength cause I can't do it without Him. I really can't," says Diane.
Strength also came from the bond that grew between Diane and her boys. "Just to have someone to say, 'Mama I love you. Mama I'm going to pray for you. Mama it'll be all right.' Those are words they say to me and I feel that that is love. That's caring love, giving love, sharing love," Diane sincerely expresses.
And that love, began to grow throughout Possum Trot. This tiny town embraced dozens of children. Kids nobody else wanted. They were some of the toughest cases in Texas; abused, abandoned and neglected. Children who had never been loved.
"To see where they come from to now is a great reward," says Johnnie Brown. Johnnie and her husband Fred had three grown boys and were already grandparents when they decided to adopt.
Fred put his retirement on hold so they could raise four more; a set of triplets and their younger sister. "I was a nervous wreck at one point," shouts Johnnie. When the children first came to the Brown's house, Johnnie describes them as out of control; a result of neglect and sexual abuse. "It was a surprise every day. I never knew what came next, sexual acting out, fighting or screaming. They would just stand in the middle of the floor and scream, and I would wonder what can I do to help them. Keep in mind we're going through all these things while everybody was in diapers. I was about to pull my hair out," explains Johnnie in an exhaustive tone.
Meal time was a nightmare. Johnnie goes on to say, "They did not know how to sit at the table they would take their foot and put it on the table and beat it or take the fork and beat their head, they were just doing everything. And immediately afterward, within 5 minutes, everybody was throwing up." Johnnie says her house wreaked of vomit for about a year and a half. Then, the children started school. Teachers would call daily complaining about their behavior. "Everyday three to four times a day," Johnnie says exasperated. At that point, Johnnie admits, she couldn't take it anymore. "I cry myself to sleep at night. I cry, Lord help me with these children because we want to help them so bad and He answered my prayer." As time went on, they began to feel safe in their new home, and calmed down. The boys are now "A" students. The little girls, who never smiled and had no confidence, now have a constant glow on their face.
While the Browns dealt with one extreme, another family had the opposite problem. "He was just basically left to his self," says Candel Cloudy. Candel and her husband Michael had two biological children. They had already adopted one boy, when they decided to take in another, named Daniel. "It was almost like a nightmare to me really," says Michael with a sad voice. Daniel got along with his new siblings, but wanted nothing to do with his new parents, especially his new dad. He wouldn't even get near him. Candel says it wasn't much better for her, "He trusted me enough to go with me, to feed him and bath him, but not to love him." Daniel had spent the first two years of life closed in a dark room, the windows covered. This sad little boy lived with a mentally ill mother. His father was never around. Michael says he didn't have much to offer Daniel, but what he did have was valuable. "Some rich person maybe can give money, somebody else maybe buy them a car, but you can't buy love, you can't do anything but love a child a much as you can," says Michael compassionately. And as much as it hurt, the Cloudy's were determined to give this child a chance. Then after several months, something happened in Daniel. He began to open up and called Michael, Daddy. "To me that's where it all began right there. I said, 'well I've opened the door now,'" says Michael with a smile. Candel adds, "I knew then, that it was all worth it and we were finally a family." A family that held together when it seemed impossible. A family that knows, when there is nothing else, there is love. "My Mommy and Daddy are loving and caring parents. I'm thankful for that." The Cloudy's 10 year old biological son goes on to say, "I wouldn't give my two brothers back cause I love them and I don't want to lose them." Michael sums it up like this, "Once it gets in you to love children, it's there. It don't matter what hurt you feel you'll do it over, and over and over again." Before these children came to the piney woods of Possum Trot, their future was about as bright as a cloudy afternoon. Now, they are beaming, looking forward to each day with new hope, grateful for the most precious gift of all, love!
If you would like to help the families of Possum Trot with a donation of clothing, furniture or money, just go back to our home page and click on the "Know more on 7" icon. There, you'll find a link explaining how to donate. Or you can call Reverend W.C. Martin, the man who started it all. His number is 936-598-5509.