MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. - A Tennessee family wanted to make their superhero son’s adoption day extra special, so they called on Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Batgirl to make a special appearance in the courtroom.
Casen, a 4-year-old in who lives in West Tennessee, was officially adopted by the Jennings family on Aug. 23. Alongside him on his adoption day was his mother, Candace, father, Ryan, and his siblings — Hayden, 7, Wes, 7 and Keely, 7.
Madison County Chancellor James Butler performed Casen’s adoption. Butler also previously oversaw Wes and Keely’s adoptions in March of 2017, Candace said.
Casen had lived with the Jennings family, in their “hearts and home,” since November of 2018. Candace and Ryan found out the night before that he would be coming, so she quickly got preparations underway.
“The day a Department of Children Services worker brought him to our house she drove through snow to bring him. I found out the night before that he would be coming. I ran to Walmart that night and grabbed some things I knew he would need and some things I hoped he would like. He loved everything I had,” Candace recalled. “It was an amazing day being his first day here. His siblings were excited to have him with us and that it snowed.”
Candace said Hayden was an only child for awhile and loved wearing superhero costumes. She decided to get some out of storage that were now too small for the other children — and they fit Casen perfectly.
“He looked so precious in them,” Candace said. “His smile would light up the dark sky in them.”
The family loves to dress up, so she asked Casen if he wanted to wear one of his costumes for his “dopted” day, as he calls it. Casen and all the children excitedly picked out which costumes they would want and Candace ordered new ones for the big day.
“Casen chose Superman. Wes chose Green Lantern. Hayden chose The Flash. Keely chose Batgirl,” Candace said. “The costumes just made the big day more fun and memorable.”
In addition to getting to wear superhero costumes to court, the older three kids were excited for Casen’s adoption day and to finally be able to make it official, Candace said.
“When we adopted Wes and Keely, we kept telling them that meant they would be officially ours forever. Wes kept telling Casen that he would be ours forever. It was precious,” she said. “From the first moment I met all four of my blessings they were mine in my heart. Adoption days just make it official in the eyes of the court and the system.”
Hayden is Candace’s son from a previous marriage. When she and Ryan tied the knot, they started trying to have more kids but were unsuccessful.
“We then started discussing adopting. We realized that it was quite expensive to adopt. So I did research and realized fostering might be the answer to our prayers,” she said.
Candace said fostering and adoption has always been a dream of hers, having known several foster families growing up and having begged her parents as a child to adopt more siblings. Ryan’s younger cousin was also adopted, she said.
“When we were dating we always talked about adopting,” Candace recalled. “God knew his plan, we just had to trust in it. It’s been the most amazing time in our lives.”
The Jennings family, who lives about 100 miles outside of Memphis, adopted through a national nonprofit called Youth Villages headquartered in Tennessee. Candace said the family has fostered several amazing kids and a few teens, who have all “taught me something different about myself and life.”
“Without adoption we wouldn’t have been able to expand our family. Hayden wouldn’t have his siblings. We wouldn’t have our precious princess Keely. We wouldn’t have our strong and brave Wes. We wouldn’t have our fearless and brave Casen. Adoption has been a blessing to us.”
There are still many kids out there looking for a family, she said.
“If you have room in your hearts or your homes please consider fostering, whether it be respite care, fostering only, or fostering to adopt,” she said. “They don’t expect a perfect family, they expect love, guidance, and more love. Every child deserves the best.”
This story was reported from Cincinnati.