The child had been in foster care for half of his life and had issues regulating emotions when he was taken in by the family.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 27, 2022. It has since been updated.
Andrew and Joc have been inseparable from the day they realized they had so much in common. Their lives completely changed for good with a turn of fate. Andrew was in foster care for almost half of his life when he was taken in by Joc's parents. Joc's parents, Dominique and Kevin Gill opened their home to Andrew. His parents' rights were terminated when he was just 6 years old. He was 10 when he arrived in Nashville, Tennessee. Dominique told Today Parents, "Andrew has four siblings and they were all adopted right away. During his first week with us, he sat in his room with the door closed and looked at old pictures. He didn't want to talk."
She observed that, at first, Andrew would "scream and behave badly" in an attempt to push them away. She said, "He'd start shouting, 'Just let me move out!' But I refused to give up on him. I was like, 'We are going to get you together.'" The Gill family did precisely that, with love and persistence. Andrew has improved his emotional regulation and has not had an outburst in over a year.
Andrew was withdrawn, till one day, Joc asked him if he wanted to play video games. Andrew nodded, much to Joc's amazement. Dominique says that they have been "best friends ever since." Andrew told NBC News, "We had a lot of stuff in common." Joc added, "Games, Minecraft."
After seeing the boys get closer with time and develop a strong bond, Joc's parents decided to make a big decision. Dominique and Kevin asked Andrew, 12, whether he wanted to become a permanent member of their family in May 2020. They had a special surprise planned to make this moment special. On that day, Molly Parker, a Youth Villages counselor, approached Andrew and asked if he wanted to go on a walk with her.
Andrew saw the Gills and family friends he had met during his time with them on the walk. He was taken aback at first by the balloons and placards. The family then asked him and Joc even dressed up in a shirt that said, "Will you be my brother?" per GoalCast. When the Gills began fostering, they had no intention of adopting. They wanted to assist as many children as they could as Dominique's parents had done when she was a child.
Dominique said, "Our mindset was we'd help him until he found his forever home. But after the second adoption didn't work out, I realized God put Andrew in our lives for a reason. God made sure the adoption didn't work out so he could come back to us." When the Gills asked Andrew if he wanted to stay with them forever, he burst into tears. Dominique said, "From the beginning, Andrew has always said, 'Thank you for accepting me,’ ‘Thank you for not giving up on me.'"
She added, "People would read his file and get scared away. But I knew he was a good child who had experienced a lot of trauma." Dominique observed that, at first, Andrew would "scream and behave badly" in an attempt to push them away.
However, the family still gets stared at in public. Their mother said, "Because Andrew is white and we're Black, people will stare at us. They're confused." Andrew and his adoptive family have never had a problem with race. When asked about his race choice for his foster parents, he chose the "no preference" option. Dominique said, "Love doesn’t have a color. (Andrew) is our son, just like Joc is our son. He's a part of us."
Kevin told NBC News, "As the years went on, [Andrew and Joc] got pretty close. It's good to see that bond they have grown over the years."