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‘I’ll take anyone’

"‘I’ll take anyone’" Continued...

When he saw them, Prince exclaimed, “Why are you here?” 

“You’ll see,” Only replied.

As they sat together during the service, Prince helped Only locate the Scripture verses in the Bible and urgently prayed for whatever was about to happen. He whispered to Only: “God has called you to do this. Just be who you are. … Everything you have been through is a testament to how strong you are. This is nothing. Pray before you go up and God will give you the words.”

Despite media reports that the sermon was on-topic for Only’s upcoming plea, Prince said St. Mark’s pastor was not aware that the boy was going to speak until after the sermon, when someone handed him a small note during the announcements.

With the comfort of his mentor nearby, the familiarity of St. Mark, and the hope of God flowing through him, Only went off script and gave his now-famous address.

Prince was as shocked as everyone else when Only passionately disclosed he was an orphan looking for a family. “‘Wait—he feels that way?’ I thought. I’d never looked at him as an orphan before,” Prince recalled. After his talk, Prince shook the teen’s hand and for the first time ever, told Only that he loved him.

Like many of the reporters who interviewed Only, Prince was shocked to learn that there are thousands of foster children in America who are truly orphans—children with no legal parents, living in limbo as “wards of the state,” and needing new parents to commit to them. Almost 102,000 foster children currently are waiting to be adopted, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau.

Godly Daniel, executive director for 4Kids West Central Florida, worries about what the press has dubbed the “Davion Effect”—the thousands of people who have heard his story and now want to take in an American orphan.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of it was an emotional response,” he said, pointing to the response people had to the hundreds of children orphaned during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. At first, families seemed desperate to adopt a Haitian child. “After awhile, they start really thinking, ‘Can I do this?’ Their heartstrings are pulled, but then when that child kicks a wall in, they will ask themselves, ‘Did I do the right thing?’ Yes, they did, but the [real question] is will they commit to that child even if he does that?”

Only might even have a difficult time adjusting to living in a family, and he could test their commitment by acting out, Daniel said. Families who adopt older children need ongoing therapeutic support, a “Christian therapist [who can help children] deal with past rejection and come to a place of forgiveness,” he said.

Prince hopes Only’s new family, whomever they are, will not only love him, but challenge his character and further his ability to grow as a Christian: “He knows it’s going to happen. His faith is unbreakable. He behaves like God has already selected him a family. He behaves like he’s already adopted.”

Sarah Padbury
Sarah Padbury

Sarah is a writer, editor, and adoption advocate. She is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute's mid-career course. Sarah and her husband live with their six teenagers in Castle Rock, Colo.


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