Barry Farmer always knew he wanted to be a father, but he never expected it would happen so early.

The Richmond Schools employee got his foster care license from Virginia at the age of 21, and took in 7-year-old Jaxon shortly after. Farmer told WTVR:

“My oldest has been calling me Dad since the day I got him. And I really didn’t know how to respond to it, I was so young at the time. and I just said, OK, I guess we’re gonna do this. I guess this is the role that I must play now.”

Farmer, a product of the foster care system himself, wasn’t afraid to take in an older child. Instead, his relationship with Jaxon grew beyond their temporary foster relationship until they decided to make it official — and permanent — with adoption. Farmer explained:

“We went through the whole process. In court we went to the judge and sat there at the table and I told the judge that I will be responsible for him.

Knowing that the adoption was very final, that means I’m finally his father, he accepted me as his father. So those moments are unforgettable.”

Four years after the fact, Farmer and Jaxon met Xavier and Jeremiah — two older boys who were also looking for permanent homes. After meeting the pair, Farmer “knew his family had to grow.”

Now, the 30-year-old is a happy father to three older boys, and he couldn’t be happier, saying that fatherhood has brought him “lots of joy.” And for those commenting on the outward differences between Farmer and his sons, he couldn’t care less. He said:

“Skin does not separate us, it does not define our family. It’s just a part of our family. So when it comes to things of, you know, push back, or ignorance, we’re really not paying attention to that, because they don’t know us.”

For those looking into fostering, Farmer wants you to know that “there’s no reason to be afraid.” Like all children, the older ones crave the same “security, [love, and] stability” as babies and toddlers. Farmer said:

“There are a lot of firsts to the experience as well: you can still have your first bike ride, your first trip to the beach, first roller coaster, first day of school. All of that can be experienced through foster care adoptions.

You can look at older children simply as diamonds in the rough. Even a diamond that’s in the dirt is still a diamond.”

He added:

“They just need help, polishing them up, and once you hold them up to the light they’re still the same diamond, they’re just a little more refined now.”

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