A TV appearance leads to an adoption
Samanthia Jordan-Hill first saw her son, Christian, on Wednesday’s Child, a television show that spotlights children in foster care who are waiting for a permanent family. He was 16 years old and living in a group home.
“I am not usually home from work then, but this time I was,” Samanthia said. “Christian just resonated with me immediately.”
She and her husband, Norman Hill, had only raised girls (now adults) and they felt they had room for another child in their lives.
From fostering to adoption
Samanthia contacted the social worker in charge of Christian’s case. While they waited to be licensed and meet Christian, Samanthia packed monthly care boxes to send Christian containing books, cards, candy, gum, and toiletries. She wanted Christian to know that she and Norman were thinking of him.
After Samanthia and Norman completed their impact training and home study, they were able to have Christian over for the first time on Christmas Day 2017. Soon after, Christian began weekend visits. Samanthia would wash his clothes, bake him treats, and prepare meals he could eat during the following school week.
Samanthia and Norman adopted Christian on July 18, 2018, five days before his 18th birthday.
Samanthia set the household tone early on: “No drugs, no drinking, no tearing the house up or doing things that get you in trouble,” and slowly incorporated new habits—including chores—into his life.
“We would say, ‘You’ll help me cook dinner today,’ and then ask him to load the dishwasher during that time,” she explains.
Samanthia also worked on getting Christian to open up, to come to her with problems, and to write her a letter if he needed to. With encouragement, he began to talk to her.
“I tried to always listen. My advice is to always listen to what they’re saying whether you agree with it or not. Every conversation is an opportunity,” she said.
Over time, Samanthia learned great things about Christian’s personality.
“He is gentle, very nurturing, and very protective,” she said. “He loves to be hugged.”
Giving runs in the family
Samanthia’s mother was a big influence on her desire to foster.
“I never initially thought about fostering, but my mother fostered my cousin and has always been a huge advocate of fostering and caring for children who are less fortunate,” Samanthia said.
Samanthia says she gets genuinely excited by being able to bring hope to the life of another person.
“I made a promise to him that I was going to protect him and would make sure he has a good life,” she said. “And that he will understand that he has purpose and value.”
Samanthia and Norman worked with Christian to improve his grades so that he can graduate from high school next year, and helped him with other life skills, such as money management.
Never refuse help
Like every family, theirs has faced some challenges and disagreements. Samanthia says they tackled many issues by reaching out to their community.
“The main thing I would share with people is to never refuse help,” Samanthia said. “The one time you do, you might be missing the one thing you need to be able to connect the dots of what this child is feeling or going through.”
The family worked with counselors at school and with an Atlanta nonprofit that supports children, youth, and families. They also gleaned ideas and support from other families who had fostered or adopted.
“They helped us understand that he came from different circumstances and that he’s reacting or acting a certain way because of where he came from,” Samanthia said.
Any struggles have been outweighed by the good times, like the evenings when Norman and Christian bond watching football games and playing video games. Or when Samanthia, Norman, and Christian baked and delivered Christmas cookies to friends and family—a tradition they’ll continue, in the spirit of Samanthia’s mom.
And Christian has taken up Samanthia on her suggestion that he write her a letter.
“My birthday was August third, and he wrote me the most precious card and he said he is so thankful,” she said.
Samanthia and Norman feel the same way.
August 2021 update: Hear from Samanthia and Christian in our podcast, Navigating Adoption: Presented by AdoptUSKids.