Three Local Families Growing Through Adoption

SNOW HILL – Three adoptive families welcomed seven new members this week in Worcester County, including one Snow Hill family who adopted their fourth child in 10 years.

One family took four siblings into their home, while another adopted two siblings.

The Tinker family of Worcester County adopted one child, bringing their total of adopted children to four and their total children to seven. Alison and Terry Tinker, longtime foster parents, adopted 3-year old Zoe this week, making her the youngest in their brood, after their grown children, Danielle, Aislinn and Phillip, and adopted children Jessie, 13, Keri, 11, and Rhiannon, 3. The Tinkers also have two grandchildren, Thomas and Piper.

Danielle, the Tinker’s oldest, said that her parents’ adoption of Zoe just makes it official. Zoe has been with the Tinkers as a foster child since she was a baby.

“It’s no different because she’s been around forever and a day,” Danielle said.

The Tinkers had two daughters and were expecting a son when they decided to become foster parents, Alison said. After seeing a newspaper article on foster parents, the couple began thinking about taking the plunge. Alison, when working in a drugstore, had encountered a foster parent who came into the store to buy diapers for a 6-week-old baby who came into foster care with cigarette burns.

“Putting the two together is how we got where we are today,” said Alison at the reception for the adoptive families on Tuesday.

Twenty-four years ago, the Tinkers welcomed the first foster child into their home in South Carolina.

“Each time we’ve moved we hooked up with the county we were living in and went with the county to do foster care,” Alison said.

The first time the Tinkers adopted children under their care, nine years ago, they brought sisters Jessie, now 13, and Keri, now 11, into their family. Both girls had been placed with the Tinkers at very early ages and know no other family.

“We didn’t go out shopping. If a child in our home became available, we discussed it as a family,” Alison said.

“Our intention was, we were just going to foster them,” said Terry. “I got attached to them. You rock them and you hold them. You gain a relationship with them.”

The paperwork and going before the judge just make things legal, Terry said, because you’ve already adopted the children emotionally.

“We weren’t sure we would ever adopt because we had birth children,” said Alison.

Now, Alison said, after Zoe, she and Terry might be finished adopting children.

Jessie, imitating an old, bent woman, said, “You’ll be like, I’m coming to change your diaper.”

Alison just laughed.

“I think this is the end of the road,” Terry said.

Jessie, who was adopted by the Tinkers when she was four, said it felt good to be adopted. “Like they’re going to be part of us,” she said.

When she is grown, Jessie said, she might adopt children herself. “I want to be like my mom,” she said.

Keri said she feels happy and excited that the Tinkers chose her.

Four generations of Tinkers, including Terry Sr. and Karen Tinker, who drove in from North Carolina, were present for the adoption.

Fostering and adopting children may become a family tradition, according to one family member.

“I plan on being a foster parent. I just need a bigger house,” said Danielle, who said she might consider adopting in the future.