The West Family:
Parents Aundre and Connie with Adopted Children Freddie and Keenen
Aundre and Connie West had six grown children when they met teenage brothers Freddie and Keenen, who were being fostered by a neighbor. When Keenen was sent away, Aundre and Connie made it their personal mission to keep the brothers together. The boys' adoptions were finalized May 18, 2009.
When Keenen was suddenly sent away to live in a group home, "We knew it wasn't a good thing for the boys," Connie says. "They were all each other had." The devoted couple took action, completing the required courses to become licensed foster parents.
"We knew we could really do something about it," says Aundre, "and we did whatever was necessary to make it happen." Keenen began staying with the Wests on the weekends and once he was placed in their home, Freddie's weekend visits began. Keenen lived with the Wests for a month when his older brother was able to join him.
"Once we got them into our home one of the things we were instructed was to not let the boys see their mother," says Aundre, who along with his wife makes sure that Freddie and Keenen see their biological mother at least once a month. "The boys recognized we were trustworthy," says Aundre, "and I think the turnaround was a lot quicker because we were so open about everything."
Within a few months, Freddie and Keenen began to change. Problems that persisted throughout years in foster care didn't exist after a few months with the Wests. "Anything they threw at us, we dealt with it together," says Aundre, a strong believer in active parenting. "We're on top of them daily - how they're doing in school, how they conduct themselves. It's about leading them on the right path."
The adoption was finalized on May 18, 2009. "Since they've been with us they attend church regularly," says Connie. When they aren't throwing around the football with Aundre, Freddie and Keenen play an active role in both youth group and sports ministry.
If you ask Aundre and Connie West what they've learned from the experience with their sons, there is a lot of talk about love. "The biggest lesson I believe is that love has no boundaries," says Connie. "Having the ability to give someone something they lost - family and home - that's the greatest gift."