KNOXVILLE, Iowa — It is always busy in the DeJong’s Knoxville home. “It`s crazy. First come, first served,” said Kolton DeJong.
The couple with five biological children recently added to their family through adoption. “It`s crazy most days. But, it`s awesome. I wouldn`t change it for the world,” said Dad Chad DeJong.
Mom Jyl DeJong said, “We are the proud parents of six children. We`ve got Tristan, Luka, Kolton, Brody, Gavin and Adaline are our group.”
Tristan is the oldest sibling. “It`s a handful sometimes with all of them. They all have their way of irritating me,” he said. He is also the newest.
“My phone rang, and it was Tristan. He called and he said, ‘Jyl, would you guys adopt me?'”
That was in March of 2018. “It was shocking. The relatives I was with did not want to adopt me, and I was going to get moved again. And, I really didn`t want to,” he said.
Tristan had been moving around to different homes in different towns since he was ten. “I wanted to be adopted because I was tired of moving around. I just wanted to stay somewhere and not worry about having to leave,” said Tristan.
Luka DeJong said, “We were friends, so it sounded like a blast when the idea came up. It hasn`t really changed much.”
The adoption became official in August of this year. “He`s going to be a wonderful member of society someday. He`s smart, athletic, kind, considerate. He just needed a place to help foster that for him. We`re happy to do that. He`s been good for other kids, too,” said Jyl.
“The reality is there are a lot of kids living in out-of-home care on any given day, and the need for families, it`s a community issue,” said Kaci O’Day Goldstein with Four Oaks Family Connections.
Four Oaks Family Connections serves 15 counties in the Des Moines area. About 650 kids this year needed to live in out-of-home care, including teens. “Trying to prevent those disruptions for kids moving out of school districts, within their network and connections is something we really work hard for and we can`t do that when we don`t have families available in those areas,” said O’Day Goldstein.
The DeJongs are thankful Tristan joined their family. “We`re happy he picked us. We`re the lucky ones,” said Jyl. “He was our missing piece.”
In addition to teens, homes are especially needed for sibling groups, minorities and LGBTQ youth.