SALEM, Va. – 5-year-old Ray has a bright smile, but two years ago he was a much different little boy coming into foster care.
“When Ray came to us he was two-and-a-half years old, nonverbal. He would point and make noises to communicate with us and so it was very difficult,” said Virginia Vann, Ray’s foster mom.
More than 1,000 days after meeting the Vanns, he’s walking with them into the courthouse becoming an official part of the family.
On Wednesday, he’s getting adopted.
“It’s really exciting because I get to have another brother to play with and to have fun with,” said Alyssa Vann, who is officially becoming Ray’s older sister.
“We all agree it’s made our lives better caring for Ray and giving our family to him,” said Virginia Vann.
Dozens of people came to witness this day. Roanoke County caseworkers, family and even the person who first reported this case and led to Ray getting out of an abusive home.
Before the judge signed the paperwork, Virginia and Bobby Vann made sure Ray knew he is loved.
“Our family has absolutely thrived and we are better with Ray in it. He’s brought life, love and laughter to our home,” said Virginia Vann.
“The reason we’ve been so excited is because it lets everyone know that no matter what we’ll always love you, you’ll always be in our home, you’ll always be part of our family. We belong to each other. I’m so lucky that you call me ‘dad’ and we’re so happy you’re part of our family. You make our family better,” said Bobby Vann, who is excited to officially give Ray his family name.
The judge makes it official and Ray becomes a Vann.
“We’ve seen this little guy come so far. There’s been a lot of healing. There’s a lot of happiness, there’s a lot of joy,” said Virginia Vann.
“For us, it’s kind of making our family complete, just that realization that we got to know him and then he along the way he chose to call us Mom and Dad. We love him as our son,” said Bobby Vann. “It’s incredible. It’s a pretty big responsibility knowing what that means but it’s one that we’ve been looking forward to, praying for, excited about to be his parents and have him as our son.”
The Vanns say they’re raising the next generation of foster and adoptive parents because their children are interested in helping other children like Ray when they grow up.
There are more than 700 children who are ready for foster to adoption in Virginia. They are ready to find a permanent and loving forever family. 10 News is profiling one child who needs a home every day at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in 30 Days of Hope. The children are all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own. 2019 marks the third year 10 News is doing this series.