“We’re not superheroes. We like being parents!”
Amy and Richard Gill were newlyweds in 2006 when they began fostering children, but with a difference. It was a second marriage for both of them, a new beginning.
They also were veteran parents. Between the two of them, they had raised five children from birth to adulthood.
“Parenting seemed like a natural thing to do together,” Richard says.
In March of 2007, Amy and Richard received a call from their agency about six-year-old twin boys who were legally free for adoption.
They met Michael and Tony that night at an ice cream shop in Bakersfield, California, where the couple lived at the time. “By the time we finished our ice cream, we knew we wanted them to be our sons,” Amy remembers.
The twins’ adoption was legalized in October 2007. Michael, now a young teen, remembers the positive change that happened through his new family life. “I went from not doing so well in school to being an all-A student today.”
Changes and two new brothers
In 2010, Richard accepted a job opportunity in Toledo, Ohio, and the family transitioned through a cross-country move.
Once they were settled, Richard and Amy began thinking about adoption again, as they became aware of the great numbers of teens and siblings awaiting adoption.
While reading profiles on the AdoptUSKids site, Amy saw a description of two teen brothers in Alabama. The family’s agency worked quickly to submit paperwork and to begin scheduling visits with Oved (age 14) and Omar (16).
Omar recalls that time. “We had been in foster care for a couple of years, waiting for the right family. And then we found a family—our family that loves us.”
Loss and healing
As the Gills began to get to know the brothers and anticipate their adoption, the family experienced tragedy. Amy’s youngest son by birth, Andrew, was killed in a fall in September 2011. While grieving, Amy and Richard continued with the adoption process. “It was the most life-affirming thing I could do, and what my son would have wanted me to do,” Amy remembers.
In January of the following year, 2012, Oved (Obie) and Omar came to live with the Gills, and their adoption was legalized by September. Michael and Tony bonded quickly with their new older brothers.
A thriving family
When asked about how each of their kids was doing, the Gills shared the following:
Omar, 21, has a great disposition and has never met a stranger. He and his girlfriend recently became parents of a baby girl—Amy and Richard’s first grandchild, Madisella. He has completed Certified Medical Assistant training and is working toward a nursing degree.
Focused and hard-working, Obie (19) graduated early from school in January and plans to go into the navy.
Tony, 14, is funny and outgoing, and busy with wrestling, soccer and football. He is the family “puppy-whisperer,” wonderful with the dogs that the Gills foster.
Michael, 14, participates in sports too, is a great helper around the house, and will be taking honors classes this year.
At a time when many of their peers are retiring, Richard and Amy thrive on being the parents of teens. Their days are filled with sports, sleepovers, camping, museums, and visits to their favorite amusement park, Cedar Point.
“What we lack in energy (we both power-nap), we make up with experience, a certain amount of wisdom, and confidence in our abilities,” Richard says.
“We love our life, and our sons bring us great joy,” Amy adds.