Anthony and Christina Charles long talked about adoption, but until two years ago, the Sacramento couple hadn’t taken the first step.
“We got busy with life, and that got away from us,” says Anthony, who’s 57 and a technician for heating and air conditioning systems. Christina, 46, is a teacher.
Circumstances changed when they learned that two young twins who are related to Anthony needed a permanent home. He and Christina didn’t know the children well, and the thought of becoming middle-age parents of toddlers gave them pause.
Just briefly, though.
“We believe in the Lord,” Anthony says, “and he always works 19 miles upstream. He’s always in front, shaping and arranging things through people and situations, and this was a perfect testimony to that. We had no clue this was coming down the pipe, but once it was brought to our attention, it didn’t take us long to decide.”
The twins, Justin and Janessa, initially stayed over with the couple, off and on, and then lived with them for the remainder of the foster-to-adoption process, which took almost a year. The Court finalized their adoption in July 2014.
Parenthood wasn’t a shock to Anthony, who previously helped raise Titus, the son of a former girlfriend. Titus is now 28, with two kids of his own. But it was brand new to Christina, who credits classes and support from the nonprofit organization Better Life Children’s Services – along with her husband – with helping her learn to care for two youngsters in an even greater state of flux. But despite the challenges, Anthony says Christina was simply elated at the opportunity to have children.
“There was pretty much an immediate bonding,’ Anthony says. “She has really stepped up to the plate, persevered and weathered some pretty tough storms.”
Also having it tough was Justin and Janessa, who turned 5 in September. They had witnessed violence and experienced poverty, to the extent that when they first come to the Charles home, they’d devour every meal as if it were their last. They had been bounced from house to house, as their parents got repeatedly evicted, so the twins also needed regular reassurance that this would be their last stop.
“Now we’re really attached – we’re all a family,” Christina says. “Janessa goes around singing about her family all the time, and Justin draws pictures of our family all the time, so it’s nice to see the dynamics and how they’ve really changed.”
Adds Anthony, “The journey started two years ago, and the journey will continue for years longer. We wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been an eye-opening experience for sure, a humbling experience, but it is well worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone.”
The Heart Gallery of Sacramento Gala, on November 15 at 6 p.m., will feature photos of children in California who are currently looking for a forever family. The gala will take place at the Citizen Hotel, 926 J St. Sacramento, CA.
Read about Sacramento County’s Adoption Services.
Writer: Evan Tuckinsly