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Family Made Whole on Father’s Day

“I've never had a thought of-of – before all this happened, never had a thought of uh raising young kids at 50-plus years old. I mean, you know, that never had crossed my mind,” says Barry Abernathy.  

He and his wife Beverly had already raised two daughters into their teen years when their older daughter Chassady came home from work at a daycare center excited about two foster children.

Barry remembers, “She came in one day talking about these children and she said, 'Daddy, the little boy,' she said, "You're just not going to believe it.'  She said, 'He's got a hand exactly like your hand.' And she said, 'It's exactly like yours.'"

Barry was born missing most of his fingers on his left hand, still he is a two-time Grammy nominated banjo player and singer with the group Appalachian Road Show

Chassady knew the kids were struggling and pleaded with her parents to help, “I called my mom first and I sent her a picture of Tyler. And she uh said, 'Chassady, you're crazy.' Cause I mean, I had the tendency to call her about kids before, but I was like, 'Mama, this time's different. You got to – you got to come meet him at least.' And she just let it go. And I told my daddy and he said, 'You are crazy.'"

Barry told her, “Well, honey, there's no way. I mean, we-we're not fosters. It-it takes, you know, months of classes and-and you've got to – got to get educated on how to handle foster kids. And-and we're not even prepared.”  

The siblings, Tyler and Zoey had already been through eight different foster homes in the last two years.

Beverly was reluctant to get emotionally involved, “I work in the court system and I see these kind of things happen, like kids placed foster homes and everything. And I was like, 'I will never get that attached.' I tried to like stay away from it, keep it separate from our life.”

“I was really crying cause I felt so strongly about it,” said Chassady. “Because I had met 'em and I knew if they had met 'em, that they'd feel the same feeling I did. It was just a drawing towards them, both of them.”

A few weeks later Barry was leaving town for a concert, before driving off he felt prompted to stop by the daycare center and meet the kids.

With a slight glisten Barry recalls, “The little boy Tyler was the first one I seen. He was in-in a-a class. And they were – kids were out playing. He was sitting at a little bench table-like thing with one of his friends. And my daughter Chassady had shown him me playing uh, I-I – the "Dance, Dance, Dance" video of uh Appalachian Road Show where I was playing the banjo with no fingers. Well, he had never seen – he had never known a dad, hadn't had a dad. And uh he had never seen anybody with a hand like his. So he immediately, to my dismay, he immediately thought I was his dad. So he looks up and he did his eyes like that. And he reaches over and gets a little buddy and pats him on top of the head and he said, 'Hey, wook, that's my dad.' And he jumps up out of his chair and he starts running to me and he just runs and just, I was standing there, and he just jumps up and grabs a hold of me. So I pulled him on up and he grabbed me, and he grabbed my face and he looked back like this and he said, 'Are you my dad?' And I said, I just kinda froze. You know, I didn't know what to say. And he said, 'You my dad.' And he reached up and kissed me on the cheek. And he patted me, and it was touching. I mean, it was very, very touching.”

Barry then found out Beverly had also felt drawn to the kids, “He called me and he's like, 'I went and saw the kids.' And I said, 'Well, I did too.' And he's like, 'Whew.' He's like, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'I really don't know what to think.'" 

Barry recalls, "She said, 'Do you think we're going to – we're going to need to do something?' I said, 'Well, what can we do? We're not foster parents.There's nothing we can do.'" 

Things weren’t working out with the current foster family, so the Abernathy's arranged to take the kids over Father’s Day weekend. 

After a great time together, they got word Zoey and Tyler would soon be sent to an orphanage.

In a more serious tone Barry states, “The state had called and said, 'We're going to come get them.' So immediately everybody went to jumping and saying, 'Hey, can y'all – can y'all keep these kids a little while, while we're working something out?' And we were like, 'Yeah, we'll – we will.' It's amazing how something-something like that could happen and in a couple of days, it come to fruition. And nobody, nobody knew but God. Nobody did.”

The Abernathy’s went through the steps to become foster parents, then they made a big decision - 10 months after that Father's Day weekend visit – through a zoom court date, Tyler and Zoey were adopted and officially became part of the Abernathy family.

Barry smiles, “It was a blast. Yeah, it was – it was a – and I think the kids, they-they recognized it, you know, even, they – I don't know that they knew what – Tyler says, 'Doption.' He didn't know what 'doption' was, but – exactly, but he knew that he was an Abernathy.”

“I can't like remember my life before them," says Chassady. “Like there's no other way to describe it other than like they belong to us.”  

Her sister Emma feels the same way, “I'm thankful that God brought 'em into our lives because, I don't know, it's just, you know that they're here for a reason. Like when we adopted them, that morning, you could just like feel it, like the Lord was with us and you just knew it was right for sure.”

“The correlation between us and these children and God and all of His children,” says Barry, “you know, I thought of that a lot, we're all adopted in the family. And not just adopted, but we're-we're made partakers. I mean, we're-we're – we're partakers of-of-of life through Him."  

Beverly smiles as she says, “Tyler, all the time says, 'Thank you, mommy. I appreciate you.' He lo – he thanks-thanks us for the house, everything. And it's just like to see the world through their eyes, the simple life, that's what it means. Nothing else matters.”

Barry reflects, “Father's Day will take on a different meaning. The fact that we-we took these children in on Father's Day, uh the family came to-together as a whole on Father's Day last year. And it'll always be special to me. The uh, you know, where it might not have been as special before, uh just to know that the way God dealt with us and what He – what He gave us and what He uh, what He required of us, you know, all that coming together on Father's Day. Uh, it-it'll be a special day from now on, as long as I live, for sure.”

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