Love Concours All
Rebecca and Lance Harris had come to the realization that their blended family was growing up. The last of their four children were 14 years old, and the house was getting quieter with less bustle. Empty nest syndrome was setting in for the couple as they realized the overwhelming calm in their home.
That calm didn’t last long, and the couple couldn’t be happier about it.
“Our extended family had some issues with abuse and neglect, and I couldn’t help but step in,” Rebecca said of their first adoption.
The couple saw a child, their niece, Cora Mann, in an unstable and traumatic environment when she was only three years old and felt the need to act. So, they did. “I picked her up to keep her for the weekend, and she really never went back. We fought for custody and were able to raise her. She’s now 18 years old and doing great,” said Rebecca.
Their generosity and need to help their nephew’s children did not stop there. Cora had a younger brother, Gabe, who also seemed to be the target of abuse. He was only two months old. “I had suspicions of his well-being and then witnessed him being thrown against a wall to get him to stop crying. Once again, we took him out of that environment and ended up adopting him,” Rebecca recalled.
At that time, there was a baby on the way in that same family. The Harris’s had decided that baby girl would come home from the hospital with them and never be exposed to the horrific abuse that had happened to her older siblings.
“I was there for that birth, cut the cord, and brought her home. Her name is Donna,” Rebecca said lovingly about the experience.
Rebecca gushed about the three kids that she and Lance were raising and talked about this second family with so much love and pride. You would have never known that the kids came with obvious challenges after a rough start of sexual and physical abuse. Cora is mildly autistic, and Gabe is still nonverbal with an autism diagnosis, violent seizures, and a traumatic brain injury.
Gabe is 15 now, and Donna is 14.
The Harris family does recall instances where life was stressful. Still, it really was never because of the three additional mouths to feed, the diagnoses, or the mental trauma of their early years. Instead, it was a result of the home they were saved from.
“We could never stay in one spot for long. We had to move often to keep the kids protected,” Rebecca said. That has finally subsided. The family feels some true stability and comfort for the first time since their adoptions 15 years ago. They are now enjoying each other and love to be together. Favorite pastimes include watching NASCAR, swimming, and being outside.
“Gabe loves the trampoline,” Lance said.
The family seems to have found the perfect recipe for happiness. It’s each other.
Rebecca admits that there were some painful times over the years. “We pretty much had to give up our extended family to create a safe and loving environment for the kids. It’s hard when you adopt within your family, so we just had to let them go,” she said.
Rebecca worries every day about Gabe and his future. Still, they do all they can to provide him with opportunities to be as independent as possible. “Getting Gabe through school has been difficult,” she acknowledges. They switched to a lot of different schools, trying to find a good fit. They feel good about his progress with River Valley.
The family also receives support navigating the system through a Service and Support Administrator or SSA from the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD). The family knows that Gabe will likely receive supports from MCBDD throughout the rest of his life and are grateful to have opportunities for him after school. The County Board is happy to guide Gabe and his family for as long as he needs support.
Some people were just born to parent. Repeatedly. The Harris’s appear to be those people.