15-Year Old Orphan’s Plea Draws Over 10,000 Adoption Inquiries
“I’ll take anyone. Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be…” So pleaded fifteen-year-old Davio Navar Henry Only in front of the congregation one Sunday morning at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Davion was born while his mother was in prison and he has been in the foster care system since. Last June 2013, he made inquiries about his mother. With his birth certificate on hand, Davion made an online search for her using a public library computer. There he discovered her obituary – she had died just a few weeks before.
Davion realized that his chances of finding a family who would love and care for him would decrease every year. That was when the shy teenager resolved to do something about it and talked to his caseworker. And thus, on October of this year, wearing a dark suit and a borrowed tie, Davion made his plea. He stood up and told the congregation, “I know God hasn’t given up on me, so I’m not giving up either.”
The “Davion Effect”
His story quickly went viral, garnering subsequent appearances on national television, such as an interview in Barbara Walters’ “The View”. Dubbed the “Davion effect”, his story drew more than 10,000 inquiries about adoption through his welfare agency, Eckerd. With the flood of inquiries received, Davion now sees the light at the end of the tunnel, with a family waiting to receive him as their own.
In an interview, Davion describes the perfect family as “anyone who will love me.” In another interview, he believes having a family “will make me have more courage and it will make me look brighter and feel better in general. It’s not really cool not to have anybody. He further adds, “I’m pretty happy and excited that people are calling and asking to talk to me and possibly be my family.” Davion is determined to finish college, making use of scholarships available to foster children and earn a bachelor’s degree.
Highlighting the Plight of Foster Children
Davion’s story is, more often than not, echoed among the 14 to 17-year olds in the foster system who are forced to leave the system without ever finding a permanent family. Every year, some 23,000 youths reach the age of 18 without being adopted.
Based on recent statistics by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are close to 400,000 children in the foster care system, with over 100,000 waiting to be adopted. Less than 10 percent of foster care children aged 14 to 17 are integrated into a loving home through adoption. Children aged 16 to 17 comprise an even smaller percentage of finalized adoptions – just a little over 3 percent. Statistics show that children who “age out” of foster care without finding a family have higher risks of juvenile delinquency, homelessness and unemployment.
Davion hopes that there will be an increased awareness about foster children and the fact that many of them are in need of a family. As Davion puts it, “But all my friends, all the other guys at the group home, all these other kids need families too.’ I just hope they don’t give up. And that someone gives them a chance.”