Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
Here to stay: Longtime foster mothers adopt 6 children
Chris Beattie/Staff photo - Nina (second from left) and Tina Bourland (right) serve dinner Monday night at their McKinney home. The couple adopted six former foster care children several years ago in Oklahoma, where they were leaders of the state's foster care association.
One by one, they stake their spot at the stove, empty plates in hand. Excitement's abuzz as Mommy piles on pasta, Mom drizzles on marinara.
All six children sit down for supper, satisfied before their first bite. Permanence, stability, love abound.
Albeit unconventional, they're a family. And that's what matters.
"We can make palettes on the floor and all of us can lay on it," says Nina Bourland, who, with Tina Bourland, adopted the former foster children. "When they were in the system, we couldn't do that. Now we can do what we want as a family and not have to worry about anything else."
"We get to actually be parents," Tina adds.
Parenting is their forte. Before they moved to McKinney four years ago, the women were presidents of a foster care association in Oklahoma. The state's former governor had a tree planted and a plaque mounted in their honor, Nina said.
Together, they've fostered close to 40 children, as many as eight at one time.
Their latest bunch just happens to be their own, legally solidified. Victoria, Lipzy and Josie, their three eldest, are biological sisters, 15, 12 and 11 years old, respectively. Kolby, 8, Jesiah, 6, and Tessa, 6, are their adopted siblings.
Foster care is ever dear to Nina's and Tina's hearts, yet a step below their still fairly new finality.
"We were kind of put on the spot in court; their parents' rights were terminated and they asked us if we'd be interested in adoption," Nina said of the March day in 2005 when they adopted the sisters.
The longtime foster mothers sat down with Victoria, the only one old enough to speak her mind. Their lives changed in a way out of reach for countless others.
"She said she wanted to stay because she was tired of moving around all the time," Tina said of the oldest sister. "So we adopted them."
At the time, it was a heavy choice, the couple admits, but several years catering to the system had taught them as much. Stable homes are a rarity for too many children, they said.
Payment to foster parents isn't as high in Oklahoma as it is in Texas, they stressed, saying many who sign up for the role still do so for the money - for the wrong reasons. They often don't realize what they're getting into, the extra work and care needed for kids who've known little less than abuse and neglect, switching from home to home.
That - and their presence as two of Oklahoma's foster care leaders - is what kept their home full. "The most we had at once was eight, but the consistent number was seven, never less than six," said Tina, who met Nina about a year after she began fostering children.
"I started because I watched Rosie O'Donnell a long time ago, and she did an episode on foster care...talking about all these children who needed help," Tina said. "I can't have children, and I come from a background where my family doesn't want anything to do with me, so I can associate with family and not having someone to call your own."
Three years from the day they adopted the sisters, the couple permanently took in Tessa, who they said was born addicted to drugs and spent most of her early days screaming. She was moved between eight foster homes in her first few months.
They parented Kolby for four years before adopting him, too attached to let go, his future hanging in a fragile balance. Jesiah, born prematurely, spent his first month in a hospital, deathly ill. They adopted him, and his birth mother - who'd struggled off and on - moved to McKinney and lived with the growing family until she again fell on hard times.
"We had to stop that association, but he still knows she's Mama," Tina said. "We keep an open adoption, so anytime the biological family wants to have something to do with the kids, they know how to get a hold of us."
Tina manages a local AT&T store, and Nina works as a diesel technician with Schneider. She'll soon be done with extra schooling at Universal Technical Institute in Irving.
"With the amount of things she has to do as far as work and her family and school, I don't think she neglects any of them; it seems like they all get a full part," said Brendon Carlile, a UTI instructor who's taught Nina in three courses. "It's pretty impressive to me, because she has a really full schedule from what I've gathered."
Carlile, like many of the Bourlands' Craig Ranch neighbors, may assume chaos - that it's inevitable for a six-children, working-parent household - but the mothers emphasize it is "organized chaos." Each day starts at 6 a.m. with Lipzy's alarm clock; she wakes up her upstairs siblings, and the day is on - completed homework, packed bags and chores.
The five youngest together walk to and from Frisco ISD's Ogle Elementary, and Victoria babysits them until Mom or Mommy gets home. The shy teenager of the bunch, it's hard for Victoria to express gratitude. But she wrote all about it in a book when she was younger, a steady presence for oft-shifted siblings.
"I can't really say much about it because it's not fair for us to say anything about it," Victoria manages. "Some kids don't get this."
Her sister understands. "If we weren't with Mommy and Mom, we would be separated and we wouldn't be able to see each other again, and that's not good," Lipzy adds.
Before, in Oklahoma, Nina's parents were their constant support, treating them as the grandkids they are, Nina said. Now, routine is the busy crew's best friend.
"We're very structured," Nina says. "I'm the mean mom who makes sure they're not out of control."
Tina counters, "As long as they're laughing and playing, I'm happy."
That's usually on nights and weekends, family time spent playing games, watching movies and taking trips. Nina and Tina no longer worry about what's next - court dates, birth parents "going through the motions" to bring their children back into abuse. They're anxious about first days driving, future boyfriends and girlfriends, typical parent stuff.
And it's all out of love - the permanent kind.
"I did foster care because If I could just make a difference in one child who came to our house for the rest of that child's life, I felt like I'd done what I was supposed to do," Nina said. "But these children are ours."