Davion Only is a 15-year-old orphan who desperately wants something many people take for granted: A family.
“I’ll take anyone,” Davion said as he stood in the pulpit of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida on a recent Sunday morning. “Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.”
The emotional plea from Davion — a teenager who has lived in foster care his entire life — has gone viral.
Eckerd Community Alternatives, the adoption agency handling Davion’s case, has received about 10,000 requests from people asking to adopt him. The requests have come from across the country and far corners of the world, including Mexico, Iran, Canada, Australia, Great Britain and India – and the traffic nearly crashed Eckerd’s website.
“If you can, reach out and get me and love me until I die,” Davion told ABC News. “I’m praying and still hoping. I know God hasn’t given up and I’m not either.”
Now, nearly 15 years later, Davion’s biological family wants to adopt him. Davion has a grandmother, two sisters, and a brother who live in St. Petersburg and they are fighting for custody of Davion.
Davion only discovered the identity of his mother earlier this year, weeks after she died from a heart attack. Davion’s mother, La Dwina ‘Big Dusty’ McCloud, was a crack addict who gave birth to Davion while she was in a drug rehabilitation facility, according to Mailonline.
McCloud got her nickname “Big Dusty” because she was 6 feet tall and weighed more than 260 pounds, Mailonline reported. She lost her legs and eyesight to diabetes and Davion also has the disease. Davion was also overweight but worked hard to lose 40 pounds.
Davion’s sister, Demetrius, said Davion’s mother was once “in a dark place” because of her addiction to crack. McCloud became a criminal and a repeat offender because of her drug dependency, according to Mailonline. She was arrested and convicted for crimes including robbery, theft, assault, battery and cocaine procession. She was sent to jail at least 15 times.
“Mama battled with drugs most of her life,” Demetrius told Mailonline. “Everything that went wrong for her was down to the drugs. It was an illness that she had to try to live with. Towards the end, she had turned things around and was trying to make amends, but by that point she was very sick with the diabetes.”
“The fact she couldn’t raise him doesn’t mean she didn’t love him,” Demetrius said. “She talked about him every single day. Her dying wish was that we would be able to get him back into our family, somehow.”
Davion’s caseworker will have to decide whether Davion’s biological family can offer Davion a well-balanced home and the financial, emotional and spiritual support he needs.
Meanwhile, Eckerd released this statement on their website:
“Thank you so much for your interest in helping Davion. His courage and faith have inspired the world. We are so touched and humbled by the international response to his desire to have a forever family.”
“Due to the overwhelming response, please be patient as we sort through the enormous volume of calls, emails and letters that have poured in from around the world. We promise that we will respond to each and every request.”
“In addition to Davion, please know that there are hundreds of children just like him that are in need of a forever family in Eckerd’s system of care.”
No kid should have to make a public appeal as a last resort to find a family. Davion deserves to be adopted by a family who loves him, but unfortunately he has waited much longer for a formal adoption, in part, because he’s black.
Nationwide, black children are 2.7 times more likely to be places into care than white children, according to studies. And black kids wait in the foster care system 30 percent longer than other children.
More than 400,000 children across the country are in foster care, many of them black. A report by the Center for the Study of Social Policy shows that African-American youngsters are more likely to be steered into foster care at disproportionate rates than whites, and are often “negatively characterized and labeled” by child welfare workers.
Davion has been waiting to be adopted for 15 years and it’s unclear how much longer he’ll have to wait. But Connie Going, Davion’s caseworker, said the 10,000 requests to adopt Davion is a good indication that he will be placed with a loving family very soon.