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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. 

PEOPLE writes:

 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.

 

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Comments

That was such a truly touching story.  Love transcends all boundaries, including gender or sexual persuasion.  As someone who worked with children like this, my heart goes out to them; for each and every one of them I ever cared for, still to this day. You can never imagine how good you've had it until you meet a child whose been neglected and/or abused, ever.  These kids have had to endure a lot and are some of the bravest people I've come to know and be blessed by.  Thank you to Jed, his story and most of the wonderful parents who never gave up.

These men and their son are an inspiration to all families: about how love and caring trump the world at large!  Hooray for Jed and his parents!

There are a lot of loving and caring glbt folks working in social services, especially child welfare. They are uniquely equipped to connect with children like Jed who are outside of society, and are consider not 'normal'. There are many families just like this one who quietly are changing children's lives one at a time. For anyone at this point in our knowledge of human behavior, attachment, and what a child needs to thrive, to suggest that glbt families are somehow inferior is pure stupidity. Who better to teach a child compassion than a father who wasn't accepted by society just as he was? A child how to love themselves than a father who had been through self loathing for years because he grew up being told that he was wrong, evil, sinful, and sick. The thing that will change our society the most is the child rearing practices of our families. For a glbt person to adopt a special needs to child they have to go through extensive interviews, training, back ground checks, and the agency involved would have known them for months prior to any child placement in their home. If only every child could have parents who have as much training and took as much time and concern as they did to raise their children as these we wouldn't be living where children grow into teens who commit suicide, where bullying is at an all time high, and where they grow into adults who commit heinous crimes against other humans. I was a gestational carrier (surrogate) for a gay couple 5 times. They have a beautiful family with three girls and a boy, all who have every opportunity any child could ever want. If for no other reason, we need to accept that glbt families are normal, healthy and good for children, so that more kids like Jed will be healed and able to contribute positively to our society. A child who has never known love really could care less what the sexual orientation of the person who finally loves and accepts them is. Why should anyone else?

Reading this, I found myself about to burst with tears. If I had to speak as I read this wonderful account, I would be hard pressed to do so. I can relate a bit to how I imagine Jed may have felt. I don't think I ever experienced his loss and dispair, no one should. I did have a relatable youth, never feeling I was wanted. What a beautiful story of some beautiful people. Jed, that includes you! I'm so inspired that you and your family have been united, in your forever home!

Really good story and inspiring one .. Hope that gay couple can adopt everywhere.

Beautiful how two people love a child so much to turn his life around, never giving up and doing what all others did.  Instead, stayed right there until the child could finally have confidence in himself and in love of parents.  What a great story!!  Love is love, no matter the gender of the parents or their sexual choices.  In the end, two parents are helping out this child who needs it a lot.  

Thank you guys for saving one homeless child from the streets and from losing himself.  Congrats! 

A stunning turnaround in five years to being ready to attend college. Write a book on parenting!

Love is always perfect.  No matter who is raising a child, whether they are gay, straight, or a single parent, every child should have the chance to be who they are.  As a Christian, who happens to be Gay, this warms my heart that the couple did not give up on Jed.  I am in the process of adopting one of the kids who used to call me Uncle, and some of what Jed said about those who gave up on him, are some of the same things my son has said about his own "family".  God bless you all and continued healing and Jed, I hope and pray, you have a family of your own, so your dads can be grandfathers.  Love and Hope from Ohio!!!

I am so touched and moved by this wonderful story. How can loving another child be so wrong......Bless you both for giving your child the opportunity to grow in mind and spirit. You are both to be commended....and as a gay man myself, I am hoping to adopt a child before it's too late. So many children out there need to be in a loving and safe environment and you have proved that love knows no boundaries and you are both a gift to the human spirit!!! God Bless you and your family!!!!!

Haha, Jed even looks like their biological kid! Great story, I love seeing love and compassion at work!

A comedian once said it best that when it comes to adoption, gay people are one of the only groups providing a solution to a problem they don't contribute to in the first place.

Religion aside. Thank you to these two remarkable men for giving a child a chance and a reason to live. God doesn't care what you are either straight or gay; He cares that you cared enough to stick it out with this child and gave him love, a home, and a future. You are my kind of people. Thank you again for what you have done. Pay it forward shines through again.

The Catholic church doesn't even have families so who are they to tell people what a family should be?? most gay people come from good so called normal families, 99% of gay people are the same as everyone else but religious freaks would like you to think they are some kind of sexual deviates. What a wonderful story, we need to hear more like this. 

Es que a la iglesia Católica, les conviene que todo el mundo viva infeliz para que nos metan la idea que si dependemos de ellos nos prepararán para ser felices en el Cielo, esos es lo que quieren que pensemos, todo para tenernos esclavizados, como ya tuvieron a la gente siglos atrás, sobretodo en la Edad Media. por culpa del cristianismo el mundo está como está, En países donde hay menos religiosidad y más la gente es laica, viven mejor que en paises donde sus sociedades tienen a ser fanáticos religiosos

Es que a la iglesia Católica, les conviene que todo el mundo viva infeliz para que nos metan la idea que si dependemos de ellos nos prepararán para ser felices en el Cielo, esos es lo que quieren que pensemos, todo para tenernos esclavizados, como ya tuvieron a la gente siglos atrás, sobretodo en la Edad Media. por culpa del cristianismo el mundo está como está, En países donde hay menos religiosidad y más la gente es laica, viven mejor que en paises donde sus sociedades tienen a ser fanáticos religiosos

The Ministry for Children and Families in British Columbia has gay foster and adoptive parents. No problem.

Great story - keeps my faith in humanity. 

There's plenty of churches that do support same sex marriage, just an fyi. Check out metropolitan community churches, all over the world. Sexuality and spirituality can coincide and indeed were always meant to. Beautiful story of a beautiful family.

The church and everyone else who condemns same-sex families areassholic douchebags.  Why anyone listens to their hateful drivel is beyond me.

This just proves that not all our heroes serve in our military! This wonderfully loving and compassionate couple have given this young man his life, not just back, but his whole life ahead of him too! Bless you all, what an amazing family and how incredible is the gift of love? Bravo, Bravo!

What an incredibly inspiring story.  How can the Catholic Church or anybody else condemn same sex families after reading this wonderful account.  This is what parenting is all about.

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