Adopting a child is more than just giving a him or her a home. It's a life changing experience, for everyone involved. "I thought about it, and I prayed about it, and then I heard the voice of God, telling me I could really do this," says Theresa Lathan.
Theresa says God told her, and her husband Glenn, to adopt. "There are a lot of kids out there that need a home that don't have a home. We feel like we got enough love to give 'em," says Glenn. The Lathans already had three children in their home when they decided to double their family adopting five little sisters. Now, they have ten mouths to feed. Not to mention, laundry every day, eight different school schedules, doctor appointments and lots of extra curricular activities. Theresa quit her job just to take care of her growing family. Her day starts at 6 a.m. and usually don't end till close to midnight. Theresa explains, "I absolutely just push myself to the side and tend to their every need you know cause some of them have real special needs and I just want all of them to feel like I'm not treating one better than the other one."
Like many of the children adopted in Possum Trot, these girls came from an abusive home, bringing with them problems of their own. "One of the girls finally admitted that she was sexually active since she was seven years old. Sexually active! So we had to go through that part at school trying to act out," says Theresa. It's a common problem says Ann Hobbs. She's one of the social workers helping these families deal with a wide range of issues involving the children. Many she says, are unbelievable. "It can be a little darling child who comes into your home and absolutely just stops your breath she's so pretty. And then, when bed time comes, she suggests a game that you would never in your life think a child would participate, let alone invite you to participate in. It's really heart breaking," says Hobbs.
The Lathans have spent tireless days making sure their children feel love. While they admit it has been harder than expected, they say it's all been worth it. Theresa says, "I'm very proud, very happy, knowing that I'm able to make them smile."
Something was spreading in the Piney Woods of Possum Trot and it finally hit where the Cartwright sisters live. Debra Cartwright decided to adopt, as did her sister, her other sister and her other sister. "It makes me feel great. I'm enjoying 'em. I love 'em," says Debra. The Cartwright sisters had five children of their own, among them, when they took in 11 more; 16 children in four homes. It's truly a team effort. "Who ever's home they fix the food, and make sure everyone eats," says Sharon Cartwright. Debra adds, "They take care of me and I take care of them." Ten year old Keshia quickly speaks up saying, "When we get home from school she helps us with our homework and stuff." Karion, who's 9 years old, says, "It makes me feel happy because she cares about me." And 9 year old Marsha is confident in her comments, "I feel good about it. I'm so comfortable. I like being adopted."
But the Cartwright sisters soon learned that caring for this many children, with troubled pasts, wouldn't be easy. Especially when you consider they are all single moms. "I just have a time with them. They give me the blues sometimes. I have headaches." says Sharon. Debra describes what it was like when she first got her girls, "They would tear their clothes, cut their clothes and stuff." Besides being destructive, the children were quite unsure if they should except the love they were being given. Ann Hobbs says trust is a big issue for the children these East Texas families are adopting. "Especially for children of neglect with hoarding food, so that one day you walk into their bedroom and it smells like a rotten egg factory because the food has been slid under the bed, between the mattress, in the pillow case, because that child doesn't trust that there will be food for the next meal." Hobbs goes on to say, "In one particular instance, a little five year old girl with two younger siblings goes out looking through trash cans to feed herself and her siblings because mom was gone."
But the Cartwright sisters stress they will always be around meeting the needs of their children. In fact, they've already seen some amazing changes. "They look like entirely different girls from when we first saw them," says Debra. These young girls have all come out of their shell. They're doing cheers, singing and dancing. They now play and laugh like young children should, all because of the Gift of Love. Marsha smiles and says, "Thank you mom for adopting me."
If you would like to help the families of Possum Trot with a donation, just go back to our home page and click on the "Know More on 7" icon. There, you'll find a link on how to donate. Or you can call Rev. W.C. Martin, the man who started it all. His number is 936-598-5509.