The McLarty Family's Story
"Getting into a routine has been the most challenging but we know that takes time for any family. We still have good days and bad days, but I wouldn't change it for the world. It's the hardest and most beautiful thing I have ever done."
The McLarty’s have been married for over 27 years. They were “sweethearts” at their church youth group. Bill is a freelance graphic designer and also drives a school bus for Ocean Springs School District. Evie is a program director for Feeding the Gulf Coast in Gulfport. They have raised four biological children ages 26, 23, 22 and 17, and from early on, they both had an interest in fostering therapeutic children; however, early in their marriage, they felt as if they were too young and inexperienced as parents. Bill states, “This is something we both felt we were led to do. We found it very challenging and knew that therapeutic children would have behavioral problems more than a typical child.”
Six years ago, Evie completed an Americorp Vista service year and was offered a full-time position at the local Food Bank office in Gulfport, so they decided to move to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This is where they first met Tana Walker, with Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth. Tana and Evie started talking about fostering therapeutic children.
Within about six months, Evie and Bill completed the SCSCY Foster care training program. On the same day that Bill turned in the last document to complete their licensing, Tana showed him a file for a little girl needing a foster care family. The McLarty’s looked over the paperwork that night, prayed about it, decided to take a leap of faith. A few weeks later they and their two youngest biological children drove to Jackson, Mississippi for the Annual Adoption Celebration. This is where they first met the little girl, she looked directly into their eyes and said, “Are y'all going to adopt me or what?” Bill responded, “I guess we are!” A few weeks later, the little girl, Carmen, came to Ocean Springs during Thanksgiving break and was introduced to the rest of the family and visited for the entire weekend. Carmen moved into her new home a few weeks later, and about a year or so afterwards, Carmen (12 years old) was adopted by the McLarty family on October 20, 2016.
In the months leading up to Carmen’s adoption, the McLarty’s decided to foster a second child. McKailey (9 years old) moved in August 5, 2016 and was adopted on October 5, 2017. Over the next several years, they continued to help the foster care system and provide assistance with therapeutic children. Eventually, the McLarty’s realized that God wasn’t done with their family yet, so they met with Tana Walker at Southern Christian Services about adopting more children.
After a couple of months of waiting, the McLarty’s were told about a sibling group of two boys. One would be an immediate, emergency placement, the brother would be placed after finishing a treatment program in North Mississippi. A little boy named Chris needed a foster care family. They both only knew how to raise girls, so at first, they were not sure two boys would fit into their lifestyle. After a good bit of prayer and discernment that night, they decided they needed to proceed. Chris moved in that weekend (November 21, 2018) and was the most polite and charismatic child the McLarty’s had ever met. Chris was extremely polite and ended all sentences with "yes sir" and "yes ma'am". He was very nurturing and kindhearted. Soon after, the McLarty family got to meet Chris’ older brother Michael. Chris and Michael had a strong bond that was undeniable. Chris was always eager to talk to his brother regularly either on the phone or Facetime. Bill states, “We were able to set up a day visit with Michael in Magee, MS, on December 8, 2018 and I’ve never seen such joy on a kids face.”
Unlike Chris, Michael at age 9, needed more therapeutic attention. Bill and Evie met with Michael’s therapist and had daily conversations and decided to have Michael visit for a long weekend. Michael and Chris were able to hang out during the Christmas break, and that is when the McLarty family knew this was a right fit for their family. Michael finally got to move in, March 5, 2019. Soon after the visit, A little less than a year later, both boys were adopted on February 19, 2020.
Since the adoption was finalized, life has changed a lot, especially with the addition of the quarantine related to Covid-19. The first few weeks were very challenging for the McLarty family. Covid-19 made the transition very hard juggling both school and work. Bill states, “Getting into a routine has been the most challenging but we know that takes time for any family. We still have good days and bad days, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s the hardest and most beautiful thing I have ever done.”