The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 24, 2012

Room in her heart

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

HUNTER, Okla. — Weslie White has found room in her heart and her home for 19 children since she became a foster parent in 2009.

Three of those children have a permanent home with her because she has adopted them. Two other children, ages 3 and 7, currently are fostered in her care until it is determined whether they will return to their families or be placed for adoption.

Being a foster mother satisfies a lifelong desire for White.

“My mom says from the time I was really young, I said when I grow up I’m going to be a doctor and run an orphanage,” White said. “I think I always want to do it. It was not one specific incident in my life.”

Tyler, 5, is the first child Weslie and her now-former husband, Corey White, adopted. Weslie White adopted Ricky, 17, and his younger sister, Alona, 9, together after she and Corey separated.

Corey White maintains an active role in parenting the children — all of them, Weslie White pointed out.

On days when Weslie White works late at her nursing job, Corey comes to the home she shares with the children and spends the evening, feeding them dinner and seeing to the bedtime routine.

Corey and Weslie both focus on the importance of his role as a father, for the good of everyone.

“I think the most important thing people need to know is, you can ruin people’s lives by being selfish or not thinking of anyone but yourself,” Weslie White said.

As for the two foster children in her home, whose ages are 3 and 7, Weslie White said she would be happy to adopt them as well. One has lived with her for three years.

After Weslie White became a foster parent, her two sisters and a brother became foster parents, too. One other brother has yet to become a foster parent.

Her oldest sister, Shannon Cavazos, is a missionary in Mexico. She has three biological and two adopted children.

Her younger sister, Sarah Cobb, of Enid, has two biological and two foster children — one of which might become an adopted child.

Her younger brother, Zack Babcock and his wife, Effie Babcock, of Enid, have one biological and one foster daughter.

Weslie White’s father, Rodney Babcock, is proud of the family and the large flock of grandchildren he now has — even though it means borrowing extra tables and chairs so everyone has a place to sit during holiday meals.

At times schedules become hectic, what with getting everyone where they need to be at the times they need to be there, but the kids are worth the effort, he said.

“I believe it’s all going to work out,” Babcock said. “I believe the kids are all doing well.”

As for Weslie White, her choice to become a foster and adoptive mother does not surprise her father.

“She’s always kind of reached out to people, especially those who needed her,” Babcock said.

Ricky was nearing the end of his freshman year when he came to live with Weslie White, and the life changes have meant two changes of schools, to Chisholm and Pond Creek-Hunter, where he is a starter on the football team. He really likes Chisholm High School and Pond Creek-Hunter High School. More important, he really likes the home he’s found.

“I think it’s a way better environment,” Ricky said. “It’s way better parenting. I feel loved. I feel like I can be myself around real family.”

Weslie White said she believes people looking at becoming foster parents often wonder if they will be “good enough” at parenting.

“I had a great growing-up,” White said. “I had great examples.”

Foster parents do not need to be perfect, White said. The most important thing is to love the children and provide a safe home.

“There’s such a gap between how some of these kids grew up and how I grew up,” White said. “Of course, I make mistakes in my parenting. Everybody does. But what I can offer is worth having.”

White said she believes people wonder if they are not prepared to deal with the challenges of a particular foster child whose demands are extraordinary, or they simply don’t get along in the family.

“You can say no,” White said.

As to having the children on a short-term basis at times, that also is something White has become comfortable with.

“I’ve never had to send a kid back to a place I thought was dangerous, or the parent hadn’t made a good effort,” White said.