SAN DIEGO — When I arrived at the park to meet the family we were profiling for this Fostering Hope adoption success story, I was a little confused. As I walked up to the picnic table where some of the social workers and family members were gathered, I didn't spot anyone who looked like a parent.
Then, a social worker introduced me to the family, and two of the people standing before me were the parents! They look incredibly young! They made me feel less embarrassed by telling me they often get mistaken for the boys' siblings.
Will, who is 10 years old, told me when he first met his dad two years ago, he was kind of scared.
"I was nervous," Will explained, "I was shy and everything because I thought he looked 19!"
He wasn't sure how a teenager was going to take care of him! Will quickly asked another adult how old the man was. Will was told "29," and that made him feel better.
Parents Dominique and Ebony are now in their early 30s, which is still very young to have two sons, ages 15 and 10. They say it allows them to keep up with their boys, especially on the basketball court. They enjoy their family time playing hoops, and there's a friendly family feud over who is the better player -- 15-year-old Elijah or his dad.
A few years ago, when Dominique and Ebony weren't successful trying to start a family the traditional way, they turned to San Diego County's Foster and Adoptive Resource Family Services.
They were matched with Elijah and Will two years ago, and the boys' adoptions were finalized in March 2019.
Elijah says he is so grateful to have his parents.
"They've been really, really supportive," he said, calling them "inspiring and encouraging."
"My dad teaches me about financial literacy and how to manage money," Elijah said. "My mom teaches me how to cook and talks to me about important things that are going on."
Ebony loves being a mom, she says she has "two funny kids" who make her laugh. She described Will as a "character," adding, "He's so animated and he's very friendly."
She described Elijah as "very caring and very thoughtful." She said he's very helpful with the foster kids in their home and helps a lot with the baby they're currently fostering.
The family has adopted two children, and have fostered nine kids in total.
"It's been a blessing," Dominique said.
The couple's goal is to help foster children reunify with their birth parents whenever possible.
"A lot of times they may think, 'oh, you're trying to take my kids,'" Ebony explained. "But that's not what we're trying to do. We're just trying to give them a good home."
The couple wants to provide a safe place for the foster children to stay while those children's parents focus on getting their own lives back on track.
Dominique said all of the foster children's biological families end up thanking them for their support.
"It's a purpose," Dominique reflected, "You know, everybody has a purpose in life, and I believe that God has you down here for a reason, so you might as well make the best of it.
"I feel like there's a lot of kids out there that need homes," Ebony said, adding that she feels her heart can expand to include even more kids.
Elijah says he wants to follow in his parents' footsteps one day.
"I feel like I should be taking in kids like how they took me in and my brother," he said.
For the foster children who aren't able to reunify, Will says he has one wish:
"Hopefully all the other kids out there get a family, too, and [can] be as happy as I am."
If you'd like to learn more about becoming a Foster or Adoptive Resource Family with the County of San Diego, click here.