What started as a "cousin sleepover" the night before Thanksgiving in 2015, quickly evolved into a life-changing journey my wife, Katie, and I never imagined being a part of. In November 2015 our immediate family consisted of myself, Katie, Emme (3), and Easton (2). When five-year-old Everly arrived at our house on November 25th, 2015 for the "cousin sleepover" some concerns surrounding her bio Mom's health and behavior arose. We soon learned Everly's bio Mom and Dad were struggling with seemingly insurmountable drug addictions that were effecting Everly's current quality of life and would undoubtedly affect her future. After six months of learning more about their addiction issues, us offering to help with rehabilitation efforts, and being lied to repeatedly, Katie and I (with help from my Mom and other family members) made the life-changing decision to legally fight for Everly's "forever future". On June 21st, 2016 Katie and I appeared in the Fort Bend County Courthouse for the first time. This initial court appearance began our custody-to-adopt case for Everly. This same day also happened to be Katie's 31st birthday and a couple days prior we learned Katie was pregnant with our 3rd (now 4 year old Ellis). Approximately TWO YEARS later, after numerous court appearances, mediation, court ordered rehab, weekly visitations, and thousands of dollars spent, Katie and I won the custody battle. At this point the court granted us the right to move forward with the legal adoption process. On November 16, 2018 (National Adoption Day), almost THREE YEARS after the "sleepover", Katie and I formally adopted Everly Frances into our family!
Everly turned 11 on June 23, 2021. She is our oldest child and thriving socially and academically. She is on swim team and takes art lessons. Our journey together has not been without its struggles. Life is a balance and we try our best to consistently and equally provide for all of our children. But one thing is certain; Everly will always be our oldest daughter and a big sister to Emme, Easton, and Ellis. #HappilyEverlyAfter - Matthew Martin 6/28/2021
By October of 2016, almost a year after the "cousin sleepover," our eyes were wide open to the money, time, and emotional stress required to fight for a child's best interest. Most importantly, we learned how many children are in similar situations as Everly was in. Fortunately for Everly she has a huge support system that will do anything to make sure she is ok, but for many children the circumstances are different. While at a family gathering on this October day in 2016 we decided to organize a fundraiser, the Pecan Grove Turkey Trot, in an effort to raise money for child adoption causes. In our efforts to organize the fundraising event The Thankful Ones non profit and now 501 (C)(3) was formed. The rest is history and the best is yet to come!
The Thankful Ones is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization (Tax ID# 81-4247715) that will ultimately provide financial support to the families in the process of adopting a child of addictive parents, and bring awareness to the topic of adoption and addiction and how children are affected by both. The adoption process is a grueling one that requires a lot of time, patience, money, support, faith and prayer. Until one gets involved in something like this, one cannot imagine how complex, time consuming and expensive the legal system is regarding adoption.