By Intisar Seraaj
Mr. & Mrs. Willie and Emmie Dubose have been foster parents with Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. for about 20 years. In addition to fostering, they’ve adopted two sibling groups. They welcomed the first pair to their forever home in 2009 and the second group in 2017. They’ve given the following a forever home: S. Dubose, L. Dubose, Krystal, C. Dubose, E. Dubose, V. Dubose, and RJ Dubose. The names of their children have been initialed to respect their privacy.
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: My wife and I have been with Seraaj [Family Homes, Inc.] since either 1999 or 2000. We’ve adopted six kids and raised even more. The last time we adopted was two years ago. I do whatever I can, as long as God gives me and my wife the strength.
Q: How’d you come to adopt your kids?
A: The first adoption (in 2009) came because Mrs. Dubose was the only parent L. and S. knew. We knew their mother and father. They didn’t really have any family, so we decided to adopt. The last four, it wasn’t in our minds to adopt them. We went to Opelika, Alabama for their mother and father to get them back, but the amount of time the judge gave them to get their kids back had passed. So, they were put up for adoption. I told my wife that we were too old to raise these kids. That’s when I got on my knees and prayed to the Lord. That’s when V.—the first word the little girl had ever said was “daddy.” That’s when I knew that the Lord had spoken to her.
Q: Were these open adoptions? Are they still communicating with their families?
A: [One] of them communicated with their mother up until the year before last because she never got herself straight. She [passed away] last year. The kids that we have now, they still talk to their mama almost every day. Their parents still haven’t gotten themselves [together].
Q: How has it been raising a blended family and integrating your kids with your community and extended family?
A: I have the greatest community, as far as dealing with adopted kids. A lot of people at our church have adopted kids. We have some people now that are getting ready to get licensed to be foster parents. My wife does a lot of recruiting. Even though the kids are grown, they help me out a lot. They come back and tell people about what they’ve gone through. They come to church and different places and share. They don’t say, “This is my foster sister or my foster brother.” They say, “This is my brother, this is my sister.” And that means a lot. They’ve changed a lot of people’s mind about doing that (fostering and adopting).
Q: It sounds like you have a lot of community support, but do you think foster and adoption agencies need to continue certain services for the kids and families even after they’ve been adopted?
A: Oh, yeah! Everybody ain’t as strong … Some people I’ve talked to wanted to give up because their support (system) wasn’t as strong as it should have been. I think Seraaj does a good job of supporting their foster kids.
Q: Do y’all have a background in dealing with kids in any capacity?
A: I grew up with a mother and father. We didn’t have much but they taught us basic things like how to love people and treat people right. I didn’t always get what I wanted, but I always had that I needed. I could always go to mama and daddy and somehow they’d get it to me. Me and my wife both had children of our own before [we got married], and we [discussed] how there are kids out there that need families. I wish we had more foster parents, but everyone isn’t [capable].
Q: Do you feel you’ve grown as a person and parent from fostering?
A: Absolutely. Ain’t no question about that.
Q: Were there any obstacles you had to overcome raising your kids?
A: There were a lot of things that I thought I had to overcome that I didn’t have to overcome because I realized that this is what the Lord wanted me to do. I don’t have to explain. I can’t live my life on account of what people want me to do. I’ve had my ups and downs in foster care. I’ve had my ups and downs in everything. But through it all, I’m still making it. And I’m going to continue to make it.