"Whatever is in the past lives in the past," Davion Only tells PEOPLE

By Caitlin Keating
Updated April 29, 2015 04:10 PM
Advertisement
Credit: Bob Croslin

Davion Only Going wants people to know that his first name means “beloved.”

“That’s special to me,” the 17-year-old tells PEOPLE in the living room of his St. Petersburg, Florida, home on a recent Friday. “I am loved and I love.”

Davion – who made national headlines in 2013 with his public plea for someone to adopt him after being in 20 different foster homes – is finally in one he can call his own forever.

On April 22, his case worker, Connie Going, who has known him since he was just 7 years old, officially adopted him as her son.

“He always felt like my child, but we finally made it official,” Connie, 52, tells PEOPLE. “We’re so excited.”

At the court hearing where their mother and son relationship was formalized, Connie looked at Davion and glanced at the few words he wrote in his journal – the date and “Today I was finally adopted.”

Never Giving Up

Davion paces around the living room never letting go of his cell phone – a possession that means more to him than it does for most young adults.

“I never had anything of my own,” he says.

“I was born to a mother in jail and I then lived with one family for seven years,” he says. “After that I kept on moving around to different foster and group homes. I just wanted a loving home. I wanted guidance. I wanted to be happy.”

That deep desire kept him going.

“Many of the homes were abusive,” says Connie, shaking her head. “But he never gave up. I could never figure out why we couldn’t get him adopted. It didn’t make any sense. He was so loving and special.”

Throughout Davion’s life, Connie would speak about him and show his picture to people looking to adopt. They then came up with an idea – one that would put Davion in the spotlight and make him headline news.

In September of 2013, he begged for a loving home during a church service in St. Petersburg.

“My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born,” he told the congregation. “I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

More than 10,000 people responded to the emotional plea, and one family in Ohio (who declined to be interviewed for this story) took him in.

“They’re a great family, but it didn’t work out,” he says. “I wasn’t meant to be their child.”

Davion, who Connie says is the most forgiving and positive person she knows, even texted the family on the way to the finalization of his adoption to say hello, ask how they were doing and remind them that he loved him.

His New Family

Around 2 p.m., two of Davion’s new siblings, Carley and Taylor, get home from school. The oldest, Sydney, wasn’t home.

Their four dogs run around the house, jump on everyone and give endless kisses. Davion’s face lights up.

Carley, 17, is one of Connie’s two biological daughters, but Taylor, who was adopted by Connie in 2013, is no stranger to Davion.

In December of 2012, Taylor was at home with Connie and saw a picture of Davion on the table.

“He told me that was his best friend,” Connie says. “I said,’ We all love Davion.’ ”

“We lived in a group home together,” Taylor, 14, tells PEOPLE. “It’s super cool that he’s now my brother.”

Davion couldn’t agree more.

“We went through stuff together as a team,” he says. “I think it was a blessing that he went with Connie and that he was able to recognize the picture. I think that was God’s work that he brought us together.”

Connie, who is divorced, knew in the bottom of her heart she wanted to adopt Davion, but she ideally wanted him to have not just a mom, but a dad.

She immediately requested that Davion get to leave the group home on the weekends and spend time with her family.

“The boys could be together and we could do things like laser tag,” she says. “But most importantly he could be around a family and learn what being in a family was like.”

Carley, who is a junior in high school, said it didn’t take long to warm up to the idea that Davion would be his brother.

“We get along so well. It made so much sense for him to join our family,” she says. “I sat down with my mom, sister, and brother and we all agreed to be fully on board.”

It was a natural fit, but although Davion felt comfortable with them, he prepared himself for the worst.

“I never unpacked my bags throughout my life because I always knew I would have to leave,” he says. “But after I was finalized, I had a lot of relief. I now know that this bed and room is mine. No one can take it away from me.”

He is taking his time to decorate his room, which for now just has one poster on the wall. They spent that night as a family swimming in their pool.

The Big Picture

Davion thinks that everything he has experienced in life so far was meant to happen.

“I know that one day I will be a great father because I will make sure my children never experience any of the bad things I did,” he says

“I will be so protective and love them so much,” he says. “Children need love in their lives.”

And he has a message for the thousands of other foster children still hoping for a forever home.

“I want to let kids who were in my position know that they shouldn’t give up because if they do then everything you have been working for isn’t going to work out,” he says.

“I always looked at the bright side of things, even when things were really bad,” he says.

He now knows that he’s finally where he’s meant to be.

“Connie is my mom and now I have two sisters and a brother,” says Davion. “I couldn’t be happier.”