By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nikki Jackson of Tomball is used to offering advice. As a life coach for the last 20 years, she has helped people through the hurdles of life. During that time, she has fostered 150 children who later were reunited with their families or placed in adoptive homes.
With a grandchild and her own biological children now grown, Jackson, who lives in Tomball, had no plans to adopt. That changed three years ago when a beautiful little girl of Japanese descent named Thorn came into her care after the child’s mother committed suicide and the father lost parental rights.
“In December 2018, things were changing. I came to one of her court dates when the father’s rights were taken away. The judge asked her where she wanted to go, and she said, ‘I want to stay with my mommy.’ That was it for me,” Jackson said. “Because she had been with my family for so long as a foster child, and a lot of us in my family are foster parents, I asked my family members what they thought of me adopting her. They said, ‘Thorn can’t go anywhere else. She is our family.’”
On Monday, Nov. 18, Thorn officially became Jackson’s daughter during a special ceremony for National Adoption Day at the Liberty Municipal Court in Liberty County. The two came into court wearing matching turquoise-colored dresses with coordinating scarves. With their family standing behind them, Jackson swore to be Thorn’s mother from this day forward.
Looking up lovingly at her mom, Thorn leaned in for hugs and reassurance. Judge John Lockwood, an associate judge for the 2nd Region Child Protective Court No. 1 who presided over the adoption ceremony, remarked that it was clear the two share a mother-daughter bond.
After the ceremony, Jackson called Thorn a “perfect kid” who fits into her family’s diverse culture that includes other adopted children. She said Thorn has been anxiously awaiting Adoption Day.
“For the last week, she has been counting down the days. When people called her yesterday, she told them all, ‘I am getting adopted tomorrow. That’s my big day,’” Jackson said.
The special day for Thorn continued with a proclamation from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and an event at Gallery Furniture in Houston. Jackson, who runs a support group called Beyond Fostering, is graduating from college in January as a therapist.
Fostering was not the path to adoption for Atascocita residents Michael and Heather Abshire, who adopted their son, Graham, on Adoption Day in Liberty on Monday. Graham, as well as his older sister, Sadie, were born to a drug-addicted mother and father who are relatives to the Abshires.
“We adopted Sadie back in 2016. Graham came along in 2018. His biological mother was in prison when she gave birth to him. Once you are an addict, it’s hard to stay out of it. His mom struggled,” said Michael, a native of Dayton. “Sadie knows she is adopted, and Graham will learn that one day. Their biological mom knows this is what’s best for the kids. It’s unfortunate, but she could never fully recover from the abuse she herself was put through as a child.”
With three biological children, Michael said he never considered adoption but couldn’t turn away the children who needed him. For Heather, nurturing and mothering is natural. She considered adoption four years ago but put those thoughts aside because Michael wasn’t interested at the time.
“He wasn’t quite there, so he said, ‘No, I don’t think it’s a good idea.’ I didn’t bring it up again, but about six months later, we got a phone call that Sadie needed some place to go. She was 5 days old. We said yes, and six hours later, she was at home with us,” Heather said.
With their family now numbering at seven people, Heather said it took a while to adjust.
“Some days it doesn’t feel like seven people. It feels like 20. It’s a lot of craziness but it’s a very full life,” she said. “Nothing is easy about this, but everything is worth it. All of it.”
When asked if they have plans to add more children to their family, Heather isn’t ruling it out.
“We are done unless God brings someone else to us. If someone is on our doorstep needing help, Mike and I can’t turn them away, but we aren’t seeking it out at this point,” she said.
The Liberty County Child Welfare Board and Children’s Protective Services helped coordinated the Adoption Day event. Liberty County Judge Jay Knight read a proclamation making Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, Adoption Day in Liberty County.
A third family – the Harringtons of Cleveland – also formalized their adoption during the ceremony. Joseph and Megan Harrington are now the parents of their adopted daughter, Evelyn. The toddler now has two older siblings, Shae and Landon.