On an autumn Sunday in 2013, 15-year-old Davion Only stood in suit and tie at the pulpit of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla. He made a heartrending plea—for someone to adopt him. “I’ll take anyone,” said Davion, a lifelong foster child who had been in and out of more than 20 homes. His speech made worldwide headlines, led to an interview with Barbara Walters and elicited thousands of offers, including one that he and his longtime caseworker Connie Going hoped would be his happily ever after. But as Davion, now 17, and Going, 52, discovered, there were more twists and turns ahead—with an ending no one could have predicted.
CONNIE: The first time I saw Davion, he was 7. I fell in love. He was so sweet and gave the best hugs. As he grew up, I always thought, why don’t we have a family for this kid?
DAVION: I have been through a lot. I lived in one home until I was 7. But then it closed down, and I kept moving around. I started acting out because I was angry. I never unpacked my bags because I knew it wouldn’t be long until I had to leave.
CONNIE: I would give speeches throughout the years to families looking to adopt, and I would always bring up Davion and show his picture.
DAVION: At a group home I was on the top bunk so I could protect myself. But I always told myself to see the big picture or else I would give up.
In 2013 Connie, who is divorced and has two biological daughters, adopted a 13-year-old foster boy, Taylor.
CONNIE: One day when Taylor was home, he saw a picture of Davion. He said, “That’s my best friend [from the group home].” I said, “Really? We all love Davion.” I got permission for Davion to start spending the weekends with us.
Connie wanted a home with a mom and dad for Davion, and ” a good family” was willing to take him in not long after his speech. But the arrangement fell apart a few months later. Davion was back in the system. (Connie and Davion, who says he “loves” the family, declined to discuss specific issues.)
CONNIE: On June 15, 2014, I got a call from him, and he said, “Miss Connie, will you adopt me?” I felt it right in my heart, like an ache that I couldn’t get rid of. I was worried about him. I sat down with my two daughters and said, “Let’s do it. We can make this work.” We knew there would be challenges, but we were not going to fail.
Late last year Davion moved in with Connie’s family and their four dogs. On April 22 Connie finalized the adoption and became Davion’s adoptive mom.
DAVION: I never really got my hopes up until it was finalized. Now I have a place that’s mine. My plants, my room, my bed. It’s mine, and no one can take it away from me. I feel safe here. Connie is a nice and gentle person. She’s one of those people you can talk to about things that are concerning you. She’s willing to listen. There was no magic in Christmas before Connie.
CONNIE: Davion and Taylor are amazing. There are things we will never know that they went through together…. You don’t know when something like this is going to be put on your heart and in your life. People think I have done so much for Davion. But he has been so much for me. I was meant to be his mom. It’s the most rewarding feeling.
DAVION: I can’t rewind my past. It’s in the past. But I am excited about life with Connie, Taylor and my sisters. Connie is my mom, and she means a lot to me. I have finally found my forever family.