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Meet The Willoughby Family from Missouri

We believe God compels us to adopt and to love kids who don't always love back.

Stacy and Tom Willoughby always wanted to adopt. Their awareness of the needs of older foster children led them to blend in five adopted children with the two born to them, thus creating a large, diverse, and joyful family.

Two of the children are “grown and gone.” These are their adopted daughter Kristy, now age 30 and raising children of her own, and birth daughter Nikki, age 23 and recently married.  The Willoughbys adopted Kristy and her younger brother Joshawa at ages 20 and 16, after the pair had resided with the family for five years on a foster care basis. Sadly, Joshawa passed away in an auto accident at age 23.

After the three older children left home, the Willoughby household became quieter than usual with only one child, teenaged birth son Joshua. That situation changed quickly when the family agreed to once again accept foster children.

The first to arrive were brothers Devon and Dyjuan, at ages 14 and 12. Shortly afterwards came 15-year-old Brad. All three young men lived with the family for about a year before becoming permanent Willoughbys through adoption.

Now age 21, Joshua appreciates being able to live at home while working part time and attending college. The younger boys, now ages 17, 16, and 14, keep busy with their shared enthusiasm for football, basketball, swimming, shopping, and video games.

Prior to joining their new family, the youngest three sons lived in residential treatment centers due to attention difficulties and behavioral challenges. All of the boys had been diagnosed with PTSD due to early life traumas. Stacy and Tom have advocated for appropriate services to help the boys continue their progress. One still receive mental health therapy, two have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), and one has been paired with a mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Asked about the obstacles they have faced as adoptive parents, the Willoughbys cite two: respite care and relationship. First, they explain the difficulty in locating respite care providers who are competent to care for the boys and also accept the low state reimbursement rate.

Next, they refer to the challenge of “learning to love kids who don't always appreciate it, and who often times are not able to show love in return.” Stacy and Tom consistently demonstrate their unconditional commitment to the boys, knowing that over time their attachments will strengthen.

Stacy and Tom thank members of Congress for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit, which they found more beneficial when it was refundable in the form of a check.

The couple expresses concern over the way their state designates foster homes as “traditional, behavioral, or career/therapeutic.” They implore policymakers: Please stop labeling and just pay one rate. This will prevent much of the bouncing around that is damaging kids and landing them in facilities.”

Their faith has played a key role in the Willoughbys’ adoption decisions. “We believe God compels us to adopt, and to love kids who don't always love back. Foster care and adoption has been our calling for 20 years.”