Herbert Godoy and David Hatcher had been thinking for some time about how they were going to start their family. They knew they were going to adopt but didn’t know which of several routes to take. Then they saw a picture of Jaylen.
David is an executive producer for WNBC News in New York, and approves the weekly segments of “Wednesday’s Child,” a feature that helps find adoptive homes for children who are in foster care and cannot reunify with their families. As a result, he has seen the faces of many youth in foster care come across his desk. There was something about Jaylen, now age five, that spoke to him.
“I could see his energy and his vibrance and sense of personality,” said David. “He was just unlike anyone I had ever seen.”
Herbert, who works in human resources for Ogilvy & Mather, an advertising firm, was similarly struck. “I knew he was the one.”
They met Jaylen in October 2014 and quickly started taking the full slate of classes and training that all Children's Aid foster care parents go through. Day visits led to overnight stays. “He really felt comfortable with us and very attached,” said Herbert.
The family lives in Harlem, and Herbert and David are overjoyed by how their life has changed. “He brings this love and energy, and makes our lives so much better,” said David.
Until Jaylen went to live with his new parents, he had spent his entire life in foster care. That fact isn't apparent when you meet him. After just a few months in a new school, he seems to know everyone. “He has a sweetness that is contagious,” said Herbert.
David and Herbert credit the classes and training they took with helping them become good parents. “Having support from an agency is so important,” said Herbert, “just knowing you can call someone and say, 'I don't know how to do this.'”
“If you're looking to becoming a parent through adoption, look into fostering,” said David. “It makes you look inward and think about how well-equipped you are for being a parent.”
Herbert and David appear to be on the right track. They can officially apply for adoption in July and hope to finalize soon thereafter.
A big part of their success might be attributable to the way they've approached raising a son. “Adopting Jaylen was about embracing him, who he is, and not trying to change him,” said Herbert. “We accepted Jaylen for who he is and we encourage him to be who he is.”