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Redefining Family: The Adams’s Story


If you think your house is bustling, you should meet the Adams Family. No, not that Adams family – Brian and Tonya Adams and their five to eight children. It really just depends on the day. Tonya has two daughters from a previous marriage, Hailey (20) and Kailey (18). Brian and Tonya have three children together: Isaiah (12), Kiana (11), and Olivia (5). And a year ago they received their first foster care placement of Ericka (17), Zoe (13), and Kayden (9).

Where It All Began

It all started at Mayland Community College when Brian had been checking out Tonya without her knowledge. He finally gave her his number and asked her when she was going to call. In her head, she thought, “Ha! Never,” but fate had a different plan. Tonya decided to give him a chance. They dated for five years, and just celebrated ten years of marriage.

Tonya has wanted to foster since she was a little girl. Even at ten years old, she was bringing children in her home who needed some extra TLC. When she was old enough to work, she’d use her salary to buy toys and clothes for children in need. Brian’s connection to fostering started at Crossnore. While in college, he was a cottage parent in one of our Avery cottages. The couple had always talked about fostering, but didn’t even know where to start.

Finding Crossnore

Two years ago Brian and Tonya found out about Crossnore’s Cottage Sponsor program, and they were all in. They were highly involved with their cottage until COVID hit, and everything shut down. Then, about a year and a half ago, they were lying in bed talking about fostering. Again. And it hit them both. The time to do something was now. “I just thought, we need to look into this,” Tonya says, “We have to figure out how to help these kids.” Brian nods. “There were just signs that kept telling us it was time. And when God’s telling you something, you gotta listen.”

Tonya looked up information about licensing through Crossnore. They were able to quickly sign up for a training class, and the Adams’ fostering journey began. For weeks they drove an hour each way for training. “There were days in the process,” Tonya says, “that I would get so scared and overwhelmed, and I’d think, ‘We can’t do this.’ So I would just pray and ask God to lead and promised that we’d follow his plan for us.”

Following God’s Lead

three siblings together on the beachSoon they were licensed. Originally, they went into the process planning to foster only, although they weren’t opposed to adoption. At the appointment for their very first placement, adoption was mentioned. “I didn’t even know what to say,” says Tonya. “But God reminded me, ‘I will lead. You will follow.’” And in June of 2020, Ericka, Zoe, and Kayden came into their home.

Zoe, who is now 13, had already formed a bond with a teacher at Williams Academy. She moved in with her in March and will be adopted by her soon. She still remains close with her siblings and with the Adamses. Brian and Tonya became Ericka’s legal guardians in April, as Ericka preferred this over adoption. Kayden’s plan is still not certain, but the Adams are open to wherever God leads.

Changed Lives

Although Brian and Tonya went into fostering thinking they would change the children’s lives, it turns out the kids have changed them just as much. “I love that each one is different,” says Tonya, “and you learn to support, guide, and love them for exactly who they are.”

And the three siblings are certainly unique. Ericka is sneaky, loving to joke and play around. The Adams nicknamed Zoe “Grandma” because she loves to interact with older people and she loves to sleep in her “granny gowns.” She loves listening to music and singing. Both girls love traveling, kayaking, and going on adventures. Kayden loves to play outside, getting dirty, bugs, go carts, motorcycles, and gaming.

This big, busy family is constantly on the go. They thrive off of action and adventure. “They keep us busy. Literally every day, we’re either going here or there or we’re outside,” says Brian. “Little kids are fun because they’re so little and cute, but with bigger kids you can really have fun with them.” The family loves to hike, kayak, play card games, go to the movies, and travel. Sometimes Brian and Tonya surprise the kids. They’ll tell them they’re going somewhere, have them pack their suitcases, and then hop in the car, keeping their destination a surprise.


Different Needs

five of the siblings at a beach store under the teeth of a fake alligator's giant mouth

But it’s certainly not all fun and games. Each child is different and has different needs. Brian and Tonya say the key is to keep a positive attitude and build honest and open communication. “Many times, kids with previous traumas create walls or barriers. It can be hard to break those down and build trust.” But the Adamses are doing it every day. Ericka says she came into their home with a chip on her shoulder. “I didn’t really want to get fostered. I just t

hought they were going to pay attention to my younger siblings. But then I came here and thought, ‘Hey, somebody actually cares about me.’”

If you spend any time at the Adams’ house, you can feel it, the caring. Whether they’re doing chores, playing a board game, jumping on the trampoline, skating at the park, or working through a conflict, they’re a team. Biological. Half. Foster. White. Black. Brown. When this family is together, those labels mean nothing. Love. Communication. Grace. Forgiveness. These are the labels stamped all over this family – the ones building their foundation.

It is obvious to anyone who knows them that God had a plan in bringing them together. And it’s a pretty magnificent plan to behold.

To meet the Adams family, watch our video at https://vimeo.com/564620965.