Gay Couple Gives Troubled Teen 'Forever Family' After 29 Different Foster Homes
PEOPLE Magazine featured the heartwarming (and harrowing) story of Jed, a teen who cycled through 29 different foster families and was scheduled to be sent to live in a mental institution, who was given a new lease on life when he was formally adopted by a gay couple.
Jed, a child of mentally ill parents, was initially found by Child Protective Services at age 3--tied to a bed and eating out of a dog bowl.
At age 14, Jed was about to be sent to a mental institution until Alexander Youth Network treatment center volunteers, Billy Maddalon and Brooks Shelley intervened.
When AYN volunteers Billy Maddalon, 46, a businessman who had himself spent two years at the facility during his own troubled youth , and his partner, Brooks Shelley, 46, heard Jed was being sent away, they knew they had to try to help him.
"It just felt like somebody had to save him," says Maddalon. "I said, 'We're the right people.' Even if 29 families thought the same thing, we're naive and optimistic. We believe in happy endings."
In October of 2008, after they were certified as foster parents, Jed came to live with Maddalon and Shelley.
"That first night we made spaghetti," Maddalon recalls. "He sat underneath the table and ate with his fingers. He didn't know how to bathe, couldn't write his name."
Not surprisingly, Jed was still insecure and he ran away multiple times. "I was nervous. I didn't trust anyone," he says. "I didn’t think anyone would ever want me. Everybody had been saying I was a lost cause and I believed it."
Still, Jed's parents never gave up. They formally adopted him two years after he arrived in their home. Shelley says, "One time he jumped on a train and we tracked him on the computer using the GPS on his phone. But when he ran away he would call around dinnertime and ask to come home."
Jed, now 19 and a junior in high school, has plans to attend college in North Carolina.
Jed says, "No matter how much I acted up, they said I wasn’t going anywhere. They gave me my first birthday party. It’s pretty straightforward. They care about me. I’m not going anywhere. This is my forever home."
We LOVE this story and these men are heroes!
Now, tell us again how gays can't be good parents? How our families aren't real?
We doubt Jed would agree.