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Meet The Douglas Family from Tennessee

Our kids have overcome incredible odds and persevere daily!

Eleven years ago, Allison and Jonathan Douglas began to transform their calm, sedate lifestyle into one centered on the activities, needs, challenges, and joys that children bring to a home. They signed up to become foster parents, and they ended up adopting four of the children they had cared for.

Asked what motivated them, Allison replies, “Children in need of families.” Then she further explains that an encounter with a foster family in their community inspired them to become foster parents themselves through their local DCS.

On their application, the Douglas’s indicated their openness to children of different ethnicities, children with disabilities, and sibling groups. Shortly after they completed the licensing process, Tee, age 5, entered their home. Several months later, 2-year-old Michael, Tee’s biological brother, joined the Douglas household. The family was able to adopt the pair within a couple of years.

The Douglas’s continued to provide foster care, which led them to adopt two more times. Son Jakim arrived at age 2 and was adopted at age 3. A couple of years later another 2-year-old, daughter JaRaye, came, and she also was adopted at age 3.

Once settled into their new home, the children began to heal, and they have continued to make steady progress over the years. Allison writes, “Our kids have struggled with emotional and behavioral issues due to prenatal drug exposure and early childhood traumas.” As an example, she recalls that Jakim, when placed with them as a frightened, non-verbal 2-year-old, would flinch at her approach. Allison and Jonathan agree, “ALL our kids have overcome incredible odds and they continue to persevere daily!”

Each youngster has developed unique talents and interests. Tee, now age 16, is a fabulous writer who enjoys playing computer games and drawing. Michael, age 12, likes listening to audio books, learning about history, and helping those in need. Jakim, age 9, runs cross country and enjoys working out, playing basketball and doing yoga. Like many 7-year-old girls, JaRaye enjoys playing with her Barbie dolls, getting her nails painted, and playing dress up.

Adopting through foster care has taught the Douglas’s much about pervasive developmental delays, learning disabilities, and mental health challenges. They have used post adoption supports including Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and mental health services. Allison and Jonathan have found EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy “integral to one of our son’s healing.” The therapist understood the impact of early trauma and was able to treat the underlying issues instead of focusing solely on behaviors.

Allison and Jonathan Douglas wish to thank members of Congress for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit, which they have used to build a special sensory room in their home. They respectfully ask lawmakers to understand the insidious and long-lasting impact of childhood neglect, trauma and prenatal drug and alcohol exposure. They write, “These issues don't disappear when the adoption decree is signed. Families need a robust and trauma-informed training curriculum and access to adoption and trauma-competent professionals. Services must be available for these kids and families to succeed.”