Three area foster children received what they are calling “the best Christmas gift ever….” a loving, permanent home of their very own.
By BRITTANY TUTT Special to the C-T
Three area foster children received what they are calling “the best Christmas gift ever….” a loving, permanent home of their very own. Despite icy road conditions, Brent and Rhonda Reeter, of Chillicothe (along with numerous family members and friends), traveled to an area courthouse on Friday to make these three foster siblings a permanent part of their family. As these foster children officially became Reeters on Friday, Brent and Rhonda, their five children (Trevor, 26; Jozie, 20; Gracy, 16; Lucy, 13; and Sam, 12) and their newly-adopted children (Charlie, 10; Benjamin, 5; and MaryAnn, 4) all sported matching shirts that read “I love my family.” The joy on their faces as they left the courthouse that day certainly confirmed the saying on their shirts. “We are ready for them to be Reeters,” Rhonda said on the evening before the adoption was finalized. “They will officially be mine… not the state’s… mine.” Charlie, Ben and MaryAnn (“Annie”) were in the foster system for 665 days (1 year, 9 months, and 26 days). They were under Brent and Rhonda’s care for 174 days before being adopted on Friday. Rhonda explained that about two months into fostering the children, the whole family knew they wanted to make them a permanent part of the family. “We talked to God and told him we wanted to adopt a child and God asked ‘How about three;’ so that’s what we did.” Brent (pastor of Lifepoint Church) said. “Once you have five kids, what’s three more,” he added with a laugh. Brent explained that he and Rhonda knew they wanted to make a difference in these children’s lives, but they didn’t quite know what that looked like at first. They said they just remained open to whatever God asked of them. “We not only wanted to make sure we felt like it was a good fit but that they felt like it was a good fit, too. We wanted whatever God wanted for us, for the kids, for everyone. We just tried to stay out of the way and let God do what needed to be done,” Rhonda said. Brent and Rhonda became involved in fostering, knowing they would one day like to adopt. They began talking about adopting a child from overseas about 15 years ago. “We liked the idea of blessing a child that is less fortunate and not given the same chances as children in America,” Rhonda said. “We prayed off and on about it but the timing never felt right,” Brent added. Around Christmas last year the Reeters started to feel the urge to adopt again. “We didn’t realize that there were so many kids right under our noses, in this community and surrounding communities, that needed a family,” Brent said. “…I didn’t realize there was such a need here. It never really crossed my mind. This experience really opened my eyes,” Rhonda said. Brent and Rhonda said this whole process has been life changing. “We wanted to bless them, but they blessed us so much more,” Brent said. “It has really opened our eyes and taught us how to love on a whole other level. It’s taught us selfless love and it’s taught us a lot about overcoming obstacles in life. These kids have overcome so much.” “For me, being a mom to your own kids is easy, but being a mom to someone else’s kids isn’t always so easy. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to love them as much, and there is something different about it, but it’s something maybe a little more special,” Rhonda said. “It’s amazing how much I love them - they are my kids. They’ve taught me so much about life and struggles.” Rhonda said that when she thinks about Charlie, Ben and Annie’s past, and the struggles and battles they have overcome, she said it would be easy for them to have bad attitudes about life or be negative people. “But they aren’t. They are beautiful people.” When asked to describe their newly-adopted children, they described Charlie as very genuine and sweet. “He’s a bookworm,” Rhonda said. “He never talks back and he’s definitely a pleaser.” They described Benjamin as funny, charming, ornery, and tender-hearted. They nicknamed him “side-track” because he tends to forget what’s he’s doing. They also said he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and laughs all the time. They described Annie as soft-hearted and bossy (her nickname is Queen B because of her bossiness). They said she loves dresses, never wears pants, loves pink, and loves her “lipstick” (which is actually chapstick) and she carries it around everywhere. “She knows she’s a princess,” Brent said. Brent and Rhonda said fostering and adopting these three children has also changed the lives of their children as well. They said this process has taught them a lot about sacrifices and compassion for others’ needs. For example, Sam went from having a room of his own to sharing his room with two brothers, and Gracy and Lucy are now sharing a room with 4-year-old Annie. “We’ve always had good hearted kids but now they really have a soft spot for this (adoption),” Rhonda said. Before getting into fostering, Brent and Rhonda said they had a lot of family meetings about it. They prayed together, made pros and cons lists and had a lot of open conversations. “Our kids decided that even though we don’t have a lot of money, we have a lot of love to go around,” Brent said. “This was definitely a God thing,” Rhonda said. “Everyone just adjusted really well.” The Reeters agreed that the best part of fostering and adopting these children has been introducing them to God. “Even if we hadn’t adopted them, they know Jesus,” Rhonda said, tearfully. In fact, Charlie said his favorite thing about his new family is that they go to church every Sunday and that he gets to study his Bible. Brent said the three kiddos now love to pray and they pray all the time. “It’s inspiring,” he said. Brent and Rhonda said they encourage and even challenge others to think about fostering and adopting, and to just be open to making a difference in a child’s life. Rhonda said there are so many kids, even within her community, that need a family of their own and need some consistency in their lives. In fact, Charlie said one of the things he loves most about his new home is that he doesn’t have to bounce around from house to house anymore. “I don’t have to go around to different houses anymore and I don’t have to feel misplaced. I feel better now that I’m here,” Charlie said. Charlie Robert Reeter, Ben LaVerne Reeter and MaryAnn LaRae Reeter will get to spend their first Christmas with their new family on Sunday. Ben said what excites him most about this Christmas is that his picture is on the Christmas tree along with all his other siblings, and he’s also excited to watch his parents open their gifts he got them. When Annie was asked what she’s most excited for this Christmas, she said, “to stay here forever.” Although the children are excited about the holiday, they made it clear that their adoption day or “gotcha day” was way better than any present they will receive this Christmas.