It all started with Mac.
Debbie Brown was a single mother raising four children when she met Mac, a boy participating in the equine therapy program she founded to help teens involved with the juvenile court system. Mac was in foster care and living with a family who was not planning to adopt him. Debbie could see that Mac craved a permanent home, so she got certified to foster and adopt.
It did not work out, and Mac ended up aging out of care. But the experience set Debbie on a path that would lead her to becoming a treatment foster care provider and adoptive parent to seven children.
“I always tell people that I backed into adoption. It didn’t start with me looking for these children. In many cases, it felt like they were the ones that found me.” Debbie said.
Embracing the toughest cases
In 2009, Debbie became certified to foster children deemed “level three” by the state of Tennessee—teens, usually, who needed additional supervision and caregivers with advanced training. From 2009–2013, Debbie cared for more than twenty level-three teenage boys. She adopted one boy, who is now twenty-one.
“He was one of the first boys who came into our home. On paper, he looked like a scary kid! But in reality, underneath the challenging behaviors, he was a gentle, kind boy in need of structure, patience, and love,” Debbie said.
Making room for more—and more
In December of 2012, Debbie took in three young children temporarily removed from their parents’ care. The plan was that they would be reunified with their father before summer. She also inquired about a group of three teens in Georgia who she saw photolisted on adoptuskids.org.
By May of 2013 Debbie was chosen as a match for the teens in Georgia, and it now looked as though the young children in her home would not be reunified with their father. Debbie was confronting the possibility of becoming a mother to six children, who ranged in age from three to eighteen, or choosing between the two groups of siblings.
“Thanks to some incredible workers both in Tennessee and Georgia, a lot of support from friends, and my faith, I ended up adopting all six children over the course of the next two years,” Debbie said.
Doing her part
Today Debbie refers to herself as a “walking billboard” for adoption. She is often asked how—and why—she has dedicated her life to being a mother.
“I guess I like having a lot of people around!” Debbie jokes. “But truly, if God has given me the ability to help, and there is a need before me, then it is my responsibility to do something. There are too many children in need of homes out there. We all need to do our part.”