Texas dad says he adopted to make a difference


He remained silent while his adoptive father Robert Ewing continued talking, but he wrapped his arms around the man's neck and burrowed his head into his chest as his four older brothers wandered into the house.

Less than a year ago, Daeshawn and his biological siblings, 6-year-old Dante and 7-year-old Darrios, were living in a foster home in Dallas. They were removed from his mother's care shortly after birth and later taken from the custody of their grandfather after suffering abuse.

His new brothers, 26-year-old Domonic and 21-year-old Damon, were adopted about 15 years ago and now work to help keep the Ewing household running after the addition of three little ones. They too were adopted from foster care after enduring abuse.

"It's amazing what people will do," Robert Ewing said, shaking his head. "It's amazing what people are capable of."

The first time he adopted, Robert Ewing said he wanted to be a father.

The role was one he had not imagined longing for as a single young adult who spent most of his time working. But after his nephew came to live with him at age 16, his views began to shift. To broaden his nephew's horizons, Ewing said he hosted foreign exchange students and in the process realized he liked having a family around.

When the teens were in his home, Ewing said he had rearranged his life around sports games, school activities and homework with the boys. Each time he became attached to the exchange students, though, it was time for them to go back to their own country.

So he looked into adoption.

"It was kind of boring just working," Ewing said.

He adopted Damon and Domonic while living in Killeen less than a year after he had started the process of taking courses and being evaluated by Child Protective Services. At the time, single men only were permitted to adopt boys.

Not more than a year after that, Child Protective Services mentioned there was another boy in need of a home, and Ewing welcomed a third son.

As the three entered high school, Ewing said they talked as a family about bringing in additional children and together agreed it was time to grow.

This time, the adoption for him was less about being a father and more about making a difference.

"There are so many children in the system; it breaks my heart," Ewing said.

In total, there are around 6,000 children in Texas waiting for adoptive parents, according to Jenny Pope at Buckner International. In Midland and Ector counties, 40 children were left waiting for permanent homes in 2009, she said.

November is National Adoption Month, and as part of that, Buckner and other organizations work to raise awareness of the need for parents statewide.

Knowing those numbers and having read through the thick case files of his older boys, Ewing said he felt like his work wasn't done.

Then in 2007, his middle son Devon was killed during a fight at Lee High School.

As Ewing and the boys grieved, the adoption process was put on hold.

Eventually, though, the nagging crept back into their home and they began looking into their options, knowing it was what the one they'd lost would have wanted.

"It grows on you having a big household, it does; when it's gone, you miss it," Ewing said.

Working with Buckner International, Ewing eventually was paired with Daeshawn, Dante and Darrios.

Along with Domonic and Damon, he went to meet the boys in Dallas, spending a day with them and getting to know the kids he was hoping to call his own.

"It's always awkward at the beginning. They know about you, but they don't really understand," Ewing said. "Once they see that everything is OK, that goes away pretty quick."

Damon, who takes the younger boys to the bus each morning and helps out in the evenings once he's done working at Choice Barns, said even when you're too young to grasp the situation, having a permanent home is a big deal.

"I was excited getting adopted. You may not understand it, but it puts a smile on your face," he said.

As was the case when the older boys entered his life, Robert Ewing said their schedules have all changed.

The family gets up at 5:30 a.m. and gets ready for school. Robert starts work early, and his older sons get the little boys ready, walking them to the bus before going about their own days.

At 3:30 p.m., Robert Ewing heads home to meet the trio, and together they grab a snack, finish any homework, eat dinner and head to bed. When there's time, they squeeze in a little "SpongeBob Squarepants" watching -- an area Ewing said he's not quite an expert in yet. "I don't know all the cartoon stuff," he said.

Domonic and Damon said the house has gotten a lot louder and they've lost the mornings they used to sleep late. But it's fun having younger kids around, and having been in foster care, they know it's a situation that's beneficial to their new brothers, they said.

As a single parent, Ewing said they have to do everything together to get things done. The younger boys still are going to therapy once a month to work through what they've experienced but are backing off of their medications and becoming more at ease in their new surroundings.

On a recent evening, the three plopped down on the couch together to catch the end of a cartoon and after a trip outside followed dad back in to make corn dogs for supper.

"When they get older and you see them take something that you've taught them, a value, and they say, 'You taught me that,' that's pretty cool," Ewing said, putting down his youngest son before heading inside. "My goal was to make a difference."

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