ST. PETERSBURG — A orphaned boy who has been in foster care all of his life recently made a desperate plea before a local church for anyone in the congregation to adopt him as their son.
15-year-old Davion Navar Henry Only was born while his mother, La-Dwina Ilene ‘Big Dust’ McCloud, was in prison on theft and cocaine charges. When he visited the local library this summer to learn about McCloud, he discovered that she had passed away just a few weeks prior.
“When I found out she died, I was kind of angry,” he told ABC News. “This is ridiculous. How did I not know?”
Therefore, Only contacted his social worker and requested that she take him to church, where he could make a plea to be adopted by a forever family. He dressed in a donated suit and tie, and clasped a Bible that someone had given him at the foster home.
Prior to introducing Only, Pastor Brian Brown of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church spoke of the “alarming numbers of African-American children who need us.” Approximately 300 people had their eyes fixed on Only as he walked up to the pulpit.
“My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born,” he began. “I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”
Brown said that the congregation “burst into tears” upon hearing Only’s story.
“I’ll take anyone,” Only pleaded, explaining his life circumstances. “Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple—I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.”
“It just ripped at me,” Brown told reporters. “I had a number of [members] saying, ‘Pastor, if I just had room I would take him tomorrow.'”
A reporter with the Tampa Bay Times followed Only to the service and wrote a news article to share the boy’s story with readers. As a result, hundreds of calls began pouring into the church, asking how they could adopt Only. The article, Amid Churchgoers, Orphan Davion Only Pleads for a Family, went viral, being shared over 19 thousand times.
“It has just been an awesome outpouring,” church spokesperson Cynthia Coney told the outlet. “We’ve been getting calls as far as Utah and forwarding them to his adoption agency.”
But Eckert Youth Services says that inquiries have also been pouring in from around the world, until literally thousands have requested information about adopting the teen.
“Australia, Canada, Iran,” director Ron Zychowski told reporters. “There was a little boy from Florida [who] was willing to give up his bed so that Davion would have a bed, and he would sleep on the floor.”
Only said that he understands that he is older than most children who are adopted, and acknowledges that he struggles with anger due to his difficult childhood, but desires to overcome the obstacles of life. He wants to become a police officer someday, and recently brought his grades up to nearly straight A’s.
‘‘He’s come a long way,” Floyd Watkins, the program manager at Only’s group home, told Naples News. “He’s starting to put himself out there, which is hard when you’ve been rejected so many times.”
However, the flood of calls from around the world has made Only feel hopeful that he will soon have a family to call his own.
“If you can,” he stated, “reach out and get me and love me until I die.”