Ebony and Raychelle Smith hadn’t planned on such a large family in the beginning. The twins were enough. But circumstances, as they often do, began to change rapidly. In a matter of twelve months, they had welcomed the rest of the siblings into their home.
From Foster Care to Foster to Adopt
Now, nearly five years later, this full-house foster home has become a forever home for three brothers and their sister. And the Smiths have been named Adoptive Parents of the Year by Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS).
“While we had been open to the possibility of adoptions from the beginning, it was simply just being open to the foster situation unfolding as it went,” explains Ebony.
The couple’s earliest priority, however, was helping the children begin to heal from the trauma and neglect they had suffered. The children had also been separated when they first entered foster care and so had not lived together under one roof until Ebony and Raychelle took them in.
“We had committed ourselves,” recalls Raychelle “that if we can do something to make them adopt-able that’s what we would do. We were very solution-focused. We knew it would not be easy, but we led with that.”
Helping the siblings learn to trust again, coming into their own person and ensuring they felt like a family again was part of their focus.
Omni Visions Provides Specialized Foster Parent Training
Omni resource coordinator Melanie McAdam had a front seat to the Smith’s all-in approach to making a difference. Omni Visions provides specialized training for foster parents, trauma-informed care for children and 24/7 family support — often just “being there” as a sounding board — among many other services.
“Ebony and Rachelle brought such a trauma-informed perspective to helping their kids. They were incredible, always willing to do whatever it took, try individual approaches with each child,” says Melanie.
By the time it was determined that the birth family could not meet the needs of their children — that returning the siblings to the original home was not possible — Ebony and Raychelle knew where their journey was headed.
“We all felt like we were family already, that we were heart-connected,” says Ebony.
The couple, who have been married for 18 years, never felt being Black and gay was a hurdle to creating a family. They had always strived to educate “the naysayers” with their actions, leading with their love. Now they are Mommy (Raychelle) and Mom (Ebony) and that’s all that matters to their children. At the school bus stop once, some kids commented about their mom being Black.
Raychelle was there to greet her children and remembers the day well. “Our kids answered them with ‘Mommies don’t have a color because their hearts are the same.’”
Omni Visions is always part of the foster family experience. We provide specialized training for foster parents, trauma-informed care for children and 24/7 family support. Interested in starting your own fostering story? Or making the same journey to becoming a forever home? Get more information on becoming a foster parent today.