The Couch Family: Open Mind, Open Heart
Dewayne Couch, a single father, recently adopted teenagers Evan and Jacob. In this Family Spotlight, Dewayne shares his journey to adoption from foster care and why he chose to adopt teenagers.
Beginning the Journey
When Dewayne decided to start a family, adoption was already on his mind. He was adopted by his stepdad when he was just 2 years old, and his adoptive dad was always a guiding force in his life. At first, he felt hesitation about adopting as a single parent, but he realized that families come in all shapes and sizes. Children need loving families, and he knew he could provide that. In March 2020, he had been considering adoption for a while and felt like the time was right to go to an Arms Wide Information Meeting to start the process of adopting through foster care.
Open mind, open heart
At first, Dewayne thought he wanted to adopt one older child. As he put it, he wanted to “skip the diapers and go straight to football and hiking!” Becoming licensed was a whirlwind process of training and home study. “You get through—and then you wait.”
Throughout the journey, Dewayne learned to keep an open mind. “You will go into this with your brain in a box, and it will get all shaken around, Dewayne said.
“You have to be open to expanding your mind from what you initially thought to the right fit you didn’t think about.”
There is a severe shortage of families willing to foster and adopt sibling groups in Texas. So when Dewayne’s coordinator at Arms Wide asked if he could be open to adopting two siblings, he agreed. “Something in me said this was the right move.”
The time is now
Dewayne met teenage siblings Evan and Jacob in the spring of 2021. They were living in a group home at the time, so Dewayne visited them regularly as they got to know each other. After a few weeks of visits, Dewayne received a devastating phone call from his dad: he had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
He considered pausing the adoption process to focus on his father’s health issues, but his dad encouraged him to “go start your family.” It was both a season of loss and a season of growth, because while his dad’s health declined, his relationship with the boys grew.
“It was God’s way of putting his two angels there when I needed them.”
Siblings Belong Together
Dewayne was motivated to adopt teenagers who are siblings because he believes siblings belong together. He didn’t want to break the brothers up, and that’s often what happens in foster care.
“It felt like the right thing to keep them together.”
He also learned that keeping siblings together through adoption makes the transition easier for everyone. The boys have someone they can relate to, someone they have a connection to already. “It seemed like it was easier for them because they had each other to help ease the transition,” Dewayne said.“If you’re considering adopting one child and wonder if you can handle two: yeah, you can, and it may actually be easier.”
Leading up to their adoption day, Dewayne gave the brothers consistent reassurance. They needed this because they had been let down so many times in their lives already. “A teenager’s guard will be up, but you have to not take it personally,” he recalled. “You have to take a step back and let them get close on their own.” Dewayne noticed a change after they finalized the adoption: they were guarded, now they are more open. They know that they don’t have to move to another temporary family again.
What is life like now? They like to eat out, go to movies, watch wrestling, play video games—and just enjoy normal teenage activities! They also enjoy having a divided household where football is concerned: Jacob is a Texas Tech fan, Evan roots for TCU, and Dewayne is a diehard USC fan.
Advice for Others: Adopt Teenagers
Dewayne encourages other potential adoptive parents to adopt teenagers. “Everybody shies away from teenagers,” Dewayne says. “Itcan be tough because they are going through normal teenage emotions that we all went through, plus trauma. But there is also this rewarding feeling of giving hope that they aren’t going to age out of the system.” Now, he’s able to be a father and a mentor. He is there for them to show money management, life skills and how to operate in a family unit. “There’s a lot of reward in knowing you’re doing something for teenagers.”