Being a single father of five with a family that’s still growing, Dwayne Herbert relies on his agency’s post-adoption services to balance responsibilities between being a father and his fulltime job.
He has two biological daughters, three sons adopted from foster care, and a fourth adoption underway.
Finding the right time to adopt
Inspired by the father-figure role model his uncle played for him, adoption was something Herbert always knew he wanted to pursue.
“My uncle was a great inspiration in my life as a male role model. My biological father was never there, and living with my aunt and uncle opened doors for me. I just wanted to do that for someone else,” Herbert said.
That time came in 2004 after Herbert finished his Masters of Business Administration degree and landed an exciting job in accounting with the Charlotte Bobcats. He was driving to work one day when he saw a big building with children on the front and the word “adoption” spelled across it. The building was the adoption agency Another Choice for Black Children .
“I went in to check it out, and before I knew it I was filling out paperwork and undergoing the necessary training and background checks,” he said.
From there he decided to get a feel for the kids he’d be adopting by participating in some of Another Choice’s family activities , many of which are respite care programs for adopted children and their families.
“What I didn't know when I first adopted is that post-adoption services are very important. They help sustain your family in times of need. You don't want to be with an agency that will throw you away after the adoption is final,” Herbert said.
Fatherhood after finalization
It was roughly a year from the time when Herbert started the adoption process to when his two eldest sons were placed with him. He found birth siblings Tommy, 17, and Jaquan, 15, through photolistings on AdoptUsKids.
“When the boys moved in there was a brief honeymoon period, but I soon began to see effects of all the hurt, pain, numerous placements, and broken promises. There was anger, anxiety, mistrust, and mischief that began to overwhelm me as a single father,” Herbert said.
In order to meet the needs of his children while balancing the demands of his fulltime job, Herbert turned to the post-adoption services offered through Another Choice. One program in particular that helped was Another Choice’s OUTS Program (Outstanding Youth for Children’s Hands) designed to provide discipline and supervision for children suspended from school.
“The program takes kids when they're out of school and assigns them chores at Another Choice’s offices such as washing floors and cleaning windows. It creates an opportunity for adults to ask them why they're out of school and have a conversation about how to make better choices and not to get suspended again,” Herbert said.
Eventually Herbert needed more than what the OUTS Program offered when Timothy got expelled from school. So he turned to New Life Christian Academy , a parochial school operated by his place of worship.
“These kids aren't always able to navigate through the public high school system. It was at New Life Christian Academy that my son learned how to conduct himself in a learning environment and began to excel in the areas of academics, maturity, integrity, and learning to take responsibility for his work and behavior,” Herbert said.
Herbert is now going through a similar situation with his other adopted son Keyshawn, 12.
“When my youngest son began having similar problems in school, I sent him to New Life Christian Academy as well. He is in the process of making outstanding progress in some of the same areas,” Herbert said.
Growing together as a family
Now that a lot of the past challenges have decreased in magnitude, the Herbert family is growing stronger everyday. There’s even a sixth sibling whose adoption is in the process of being finalized.
“Our summers, holidays, and vacations are interesting when my two birth daughters Jassimine and Jamekia come to visit. All the children get along very well with each other and have shown appropriate sibling behavior from day one—arguing, playing, taking up for one another, etc.” Herbert said.
Inspired by the changes he saw within his kids, Herbert left the corporate world to pursue a career in the field of child mental health.
“Being able to run a business and parent five children is a testament to how well our family has gelled and the strength of my network, which includes my family, church, and adoption agency who is still there for us five years after the first adoptions,” he said.
AdoptUSKids is a service of the U.S. Children’s Bureau and has been in operation since 2002 by the Adoption Exchange Association under a cooperative agreement (grant #90CQ0003). The mission of AdoptUSKids is two-fold: to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public child welfare system; and to assist U.S. States, Territories, and Tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families and connect them with children.