Bingham’s family expands through foster care, adoption
It’s National Adoption Month, and Youth Villages has more than 100 children that need a forever home in Tennessee. There is a need for more families to open their hearts and homes to adopting children so they can receive care and support. Adoptive families can be single parents, couples with or without children or older singles or couples.
For Jerry and Tonya Bingham, they were on the verge of becoming empty nesters when they moved from Illinois to Tennessee in 2014. When they arrived in East Tennessee, they wanted to become involved immediately in their new community. The Binghams, parents of two sons, saw a story in the local newspaper on foster care and adoption.
“It was a Youth Villages article in the paper,” Tonya said. “It was our first time [fostering], and we’ve stuck with Youth Villages because they’ve been supportive. They’ve always been there for us.”
Reunification first on their minds
Upon their move to Tennessee, the Binghams began taking classes in the fall of 2014 and were certified soon thereafter. While going through training, their first thoughts centered on reunification.
“We weren’t sure what role we’d be able to play,” Tonya said. “We got into foster care hoping to help show mothers how to take better care of their kids. We thought we’d be reuniting these kids back with their parents.”
However, their plan took a detour and made the Binghams look more toward adoption, which was their true desire.
“It wasn’t going the way we thought,” Tonya said. “These kids have had a lot of heartache in their lives. Then, nine times out of 10, they don’t get to go back home because their parents relapse, or they don’t do what they need to do, or they don’t want to participate in their schooling.”
Binghams grow their family
After certification, Jerry and Tonya had the first placement in their home in March 2015. Two boys were placed with the Binghams because of neglect and drugs in their home. Their mother was never stable — in and out of jail — and never did what she needed to get her children back home. More than a year later, Jerry and Tonya adopted the boys, then ages 7 and 10.
They become part of our lives… We start bonding with them, start making a family with them. If the kids we foster come up for adoption, then my husband and I say, ‘yes, we’re for this.’
The Binghams, though, weren’t done. A month after the boys’ adoption, they welcomed three girls, ages 5 months, 12 and 14, into the home in December 2016. Much like the boys, the girls were exposed to drug use in their home. A year later, Jerry and Tonya’s family grew with the adoption of the three girls in November 2017.
“[The Binghams] have a desire to build their family, but they also get it,” said Amber Newman, Youth Villages treatment foster care clinical supervisor. “They understand why there is a need for foster care. The family is trauma informed and understands when kids are having a tough time. They do everything to get through that tough time and find permanency.”
Now, seven years later, Jerry and Tonya are ready to add more children to their family. The Binghams are fostering four children from ages 7 months to 9 years old with plans to adopt in early 2024. The four children entered the Bingham’s home with a lot of behavioral challenges and are receiving therapy for their trauma.
In addition, one of the Binghams’ sons and his wife are looking into foster care and adoption.
On any given day in Tennessee, approximately 8,000 children and youth are in foster care. Many are looking for a safe place to live, permanency, their forever home. If interested in foster care/adoption through Youth Villages, call 1-888-MY-YV-KID or go online at youthvillages.org/foster.