Welcoming brand new ‘Dae’
Custodian Eunice Stevenson’s life has been filled with firsts, especially her last three years.
Her first time flying in a plane.
Her first time taking her daughter to Seattle.
Her first time being called “mom” by the students that she has watched grow up during her custodial career.
But it was after that fateful plane ride into Seattle, Washington that Stevenson would experience a new set of firsts: Her first time holding little Dae Jon, her great nephew.
Her first time being the mother of a strong baby boy, her first time looking into his big, brown eyes and feeling his warmth reverberate against her chest.
Despite these firsts, Stevenson is no stranger to being called mom and feeling the love and compassion for the small fragile life in her hands, which is typical of motherhood.
“I have a son I adopted from Seattle, Washington,” Stevenson said. “I adopted him from Child Protective Services, CPS. I have had him ever since he was two and half, and now he is six.”
For years Stevenson juggled working with Katy ISD in several custodial departments, including Jeanette Hayes Elementary School and Garland McMeans Junior High School, and raising her two daughters. Despite the joys of nurturing her daughters, Stevenson desired to be the mother of her own baby boy.
“Before I could adopt him, we had to get a bond, a relationship as an auntie and a nephew,” Stevenson said. “When I left [from Seattle] I cried, because I didn’t want him to have to be in foster care.”
According to Stevenson, having Dae Jon out of foster care has been incredible, and she is glad to have him surrounded with a loving family.
“[It’s been] wonderful [having him] because I’ve been wanting a son ever since—well I’ve always wanted a son,” Stevenson said. “He is my great nephew, but he doesn’t know his parents, so he calls me mom.”
Due to complications with his biological family, Dae Jon was placed into the foster care system, where he spent several years in a foster home. After Stevenson heard that Dae Jon was in a foster home, she and her daughter boarded a plane and travelled to Seattle to welcome him back into his biological family. Despite the issues with his family, Stevenson still believes that Dae Jon should have some form of a relationship with his biological parents.
“He contacted his dad… called him, but he doesn’t have contacts with his mother,” Stevenson said. “I think every kid should know their parents, I don’t care what situation they’ve been in, kids always need to know their biological family.”
Dae Jon’s effect on the family has been inspiring. Despite the delay in acquaintanceship, the extended family has drawn closer in more ways than were expected.
“[Dae Jon has brought us] closer, much closer,” Stevenson said. “[My daughters] help him when I’m at work, they take him places and they treat him like their own brother. They don’t have [biological] brothers.”
Although faced with daunting responsibilities, Stevenson barely had to weigh her options when given the opportunity to bring young Dae Jon into her home, even though her full schedule would be hectic.
“It was because he is my great nephew that I went the full mile and adopted him,” Stevenson said. “It is our family’s goal to take care of each other and love each other.”
In trying to balance her stressful life, the burdens of motherhood and adoptive motherhood, she has learned more than she expected but wants to warn those looking into adoption of its difficulties.
“Adoption is a big thing; it’s a challenge. You have to really want it. It’s not easy,” Stevenson said. “With most of the [kids] you have to have love, [be] understanding, and be very patient with someone else’s kid.”
Despite these challenges, Stevenson set goals and hopes that Dae Jon will achieve more than his father and mother.
“I want him to go a little farther, a little higher than everyone else,” Stevenson said. “I want him to finish school and go to college be whatever he wants to be because it’s out there for him.”
Stevenson believes the patience that she has acquired can be attributed to her experience with the countless students that she has seen grow and mature in her custodial career. Beginning at Hayes Elementary School, she worked her way through the primary and secondary schools alongside many young students, who are currently seniors.
“Ms. Stevenson is awesome,” senior Varun Bora said. “I’ve been with her since elementary school and she makes my day.”
According to Stevenson, the same way that the students learn from their teachers, she has learned new truths about children, which she uses both at home and at school.
“There are kids that came from the ninth grade that moved to the tenth grade then through eleventh and twelfth so I have had emotional experiences with the kids,” Stevenson said. “Most importantly you have to be patient with them. Treating them like the way you want to be treated and respect are the two most important things. They respect me a whole lot. They call me mom.”
Recently, this mom celebrated her third year with Dae Jon by throwing him his first birthday party, a celebration that left the six-year-old in awe at the expression of love.
The title “mom” has become one that Stevenson proudly wears as a badge of honor as she tirelessly works to create a loving environment for the countless students that she sees pass through the hallways each year.
“I think every kid needs somebody, every kid needs love, a home,” Stevenson said. “They need care.”