In 2011, Barry Farmer was only 22 years old and became a father to Jaxon. Soon, his family came to include Xavier and Jeremiah as well.
Taking on the responsibility of being a parent is a big deal. While most people are figuring life out in their 20s, Barry Farmer was stepping into the role of a caretaker and becoming a single father of three. Having grown up in the foster care system himself, he knew the important role foster parents played in the life of children. When he turned 20, he saw an ad about how to become a foster parent and decided to get licensed. A year later, he got his first placement. He admitted that his own childhood experience in kinship foster care and being raised by his grandmother inspired him to get into fostering and adopting as well, according to TODAY.
The first child he fostered was a 16-year-old boy who stayed with him for six months. Then came the call that would change his life forever. “They asked if I want to try another teenager or do I want to go with a 7-year-old,” Farmer recalled. “(I thought) ‘Why don’t we go with the 7-year-old and see how it is going to go?' It seemed like I could be a little more active and take him places.” He assumed the kid would be Black but was surprised to find "the whitest white child that I ever worked with." The child, Jaxon, had to be placed immediately and thus began Farmer's adventure.
“He was so loving and caring,” Farmer said of the boy. “He just wanted some hugs and to call me dad.” After his stint with Farmer, Jaxon was taken to the family he would be adopted by. “I didn’t realize how close he was to me until he left,” he said. “I was sad and he was sad. He did end up coming back and that’s when we both decided that I would adopt him.” In 2011, Farmer, who was only 22 years old, became a father of one. When Jaxon asked him one day if he was going to get a brother, Farmer who had previously no intention of adopting at all, even considered expanding his family.
Then came Xavier. He stayed with Farmer and Jaxon for a few years and after he turned 11, he was adopted too. Followed by Jeremiah, who was adopted when he was five. "They welcomed him with open arms, as did I, so we adopted him as well," Farmer told CBS News. "It's not like I planned it." Jaxon is now 19, Xavier is 17, and Jeremiah is 11. "Foster care itself is so unpredictable, you don't know what to expect once you signed up," Farmer, who is now 30, said. "This is not what I signed up for but I embraced it." He hopes other parents considering fostering and adopting know it is difficult.
Speaking to PEOPLE, Farmer said, “Fatherhood has been everything I imagine it to be because I’m the father I wish I had growing up. I’m involved, I’m there when my boys go to sleep and when they wake up. I’m their biggest cheerleader when helping them achieve their goals. I try not to miss a beat in their lives. I take the responsibility of being their father very seriously and never for granted.” His time as a father of three boys has been rewarding, he says. “They are loving, strong-willed, and, at times, extremely thoughtful,” he said of his sons fondly. “My sons have a lot of potential to make a positive impact on this world, I just hope they realize it and act on it.”
“Becoming a foster parent was like a tribute to my grandmother because I could never pay her back, but I was definitely able to pay it forward,” Farmer stated. “It was touching that this child of a different race felt comfortable enough to call me Dad, he was a child searching for belonging in a not so typical situation.” He documents his adventures with his family on social media now.