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Teacher Answers Student’s Prayer with a Forever Home

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Robert Hull - 700 Club Producer

“Some days I felt upset, angry, lost, they’ve taken me from my safe place and placed me in a home with strangers that, I mean I didn’t have any help or anyone to turn to or anything like that.”

Anthony was placed in foster care when he was six years old due to his birth mom’s drug use while pregnant with his baby sister. He knew about God’s love through his grandmother and tried to stay hopeful in a tough situation.

Anthony remembers, “I prayed sometimes when I was feeling down. And then other days I questioned Him. ‘Why did You put me here? Why am I here? Why –why can’t I find anyone to love me? Why can’t I go back home?’”

He lived in group homes for nine years, hoping to be adopted yet afraid of being let down, “I was raised being disappointed,” he says. “I didn’t get my hopes up for anything basically. Because I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high and it not happen. Deep down I wanted it to work. I wanted to get out of the system; I didn’t want to deal with the bonds of being a ward of the state anymore. I just wanted; you know, to have a loving family, a forever home.”

At fifteen years old and after a failed adoption, he began losing hope. He got in trouble at his high school and was sent to Pathways Alternative School where he met Dr. Bennie Berry, a teacher at the school. She says, “And he came there and he volunteered to say the Pledge at the beginning of the day. He volunteered. He was in ROTC at his home campus. He volunteered to hang the flags. I was impressed. I felt like oh this kid is a leader. This kid is a leader. He’s different from the rest. He has initiative.”

Bennie was single and had no children of her own. In class students joked that they loved Dr. Berry and wished she was their mom. Anthony jumped in, and wasn’t joking. Dr. Berry says, “The discussion went to families. And some of the kids was saying well, I’ve been trying to get Miss Berry to take me home. And so Anthony said, ‘Oh you can take me home for real.’ And I said, ‘Well no, you have—you know, your parents are doing the best; respect your parents the way you respect me. And you’ll be okay.’ And he’s like, ‘No, really, I’m in foster care.’ And so a couple of students and myself, we didn’t know. And we kind of gasped, like really, you’re in foster care?”

Anthony says, “I actually was like, ‘yeah, you can adopt me. I mean, will you? Have you thought about adoption or, you know.’ Then we got deeper into the conversation.”

“And I said, ‘well, if you’re going to be my kid, you know, if you was ever my kid, you have to be good.’ And he said, ‘for how long?’ And I said ‘forever. What are you talking about?’ So, he said, ‘well, you can, you know, look me up. I could be adopted, you know, you could take me home.’”

Anthony gave Bennie his information and the adoption website. Dr. Berry says, “I had never planned on adopting because I didn’t know. I didn’t know the process for adopting. All I think I knew about adoption is what I’ve seen on like a Lifetime movie. I never really believed, I’ll say, in the first few days that it was something that I could do.”

Anthony says, “It came time for me to leave Pathways. And I was like don’t you forget about me. She didn’t forget.”

"When it became more real, I had to –I had to pray about everything," Bennie says. "I asked God to order my steps, everything that I wanted to do… I was like okay, Lord, show me that what I’m doing is not just raw emotion. It is what I really should do… So I felt like God was showing me yes, this is what you need to do, step by step, ordering it. Ordained."

To Bennie’s amazement, there were no roadblocks to the application process and soon they began a trial adoption period. Later that year, on national adoption day 2017 Bennie officially adopted Anthony. Anthony remembers, “I was very nervous. It was, you know, all that anxiety and tension. Like this is really happening. Today’s the day. I actually, we both couldn’t sleep the night before. We spent most of the time talking to each other. That was a very good bonding period.”

“National Adoption Day was an emotional day,” says Bennie. “My name was put on his birth certificate, his name was officially changed. It became real on that day. Everything we had prayed for, every step that I had asked God to order, we were now at the end of the road. It’s over. It is official. We are a family. Nobody can change it.”

The trait that best defines this new family of two is gratitude; for one another, and to God who opened the door and their hearts. Anthony says, “He’s bringing us all the way. He’s carrying us. Like He carried the cross; He’s carrying us on His back. I’m thankful for her just loving me and taking a 16-year-old, well, 15, going on 16-year-old boy into her home, a troubled boy at that. I love it. I love it. It’s something that I never thought I would have. I’m happy. For someone my age to get adopted, it, you know, it’s very rare.

Bennie says, “I didn't know that I could love somebody so much besides my parents. I needed him probably as much or more than he needed me.  I don’t tell him a lot, because I don’t want him to think he has the upper hand. But I am more than proud of him. I thank God for the opportunity to help mold somebody who I know is going to do wonderful things.”

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