WACO, Texas – Fostering and adopting children is no easy task, but one Central Texas woman is doing just that.
Tracy Hendricks Mills has adopted not one, but seven children, and is fostering an eighth. She didn’t just decide one day to adopt and foster – it happened through the twists and turns of life.
“We had family who, through life and circumstances, chose to go different directions. And CPS got involved. And then we were already connected to children who were fixing to leave. And once I’m connected in your family, I’m not ready for that. So when they come and say, ‘Hey, we are losing them. Can you take them?,’ then my immediate response is, ‘As long as I have the room and the opportunity, then yes,'” says Mills.
Saying yes has changed the lives of two boys and six girls – the youngest is just one-year-old.
“Blessed that I was given the ability to give them any kind of change or chance to make a difference in their lives, so that they can make a difference in someone’s life later. But also blessed that they’ve made a difference in our lives. Like, it wasn’t just me saving them. It was them saving us, too,” says Mills.
Tracy was nominated as a FOX44 Remarkable Woman by her good friend Linda Harper, who calls her a super woman.
“For me and my family, Ricky and Tracy means feeling safe. Feeling at home. Feeling love unconditionally,” she says.
Those words leave Tracy emotional.
“A lot of it has to do with growing up with not a lot, and then seeing other people having not a lot. Once you have a little, so if you share your little, then everyone has a little kind of thing. I guess that’s kind of where we are at in our life,” says Mills.
She says the need for adoptive and foster parents is huge in McLennan County, and most people don’t jump in because they are scared.
“There are kids there who are living out of bags, you know, that are moved from family to family because they may be with one foster family who doesn’t adopt, that they are there just to have foster kids. And then a greater need comes, and they get moved around,” she says.
Tracy says the one piece of advice she would give to someone interested in adoption or fostering is to go into it with an open mind and heart.
“Because every situation is different, and you have to go in knowing that you’re making a commitment. It’s not a used car when it starts breaking down. You just take it back to the car lot. You have to commit 100 percent, devoted and ready. And know that anything that they do or say, that they act out when they first come, it has nothing to do with you and it’s not personal. But once you get past that point, that little hump in the beginning, you are in the most amazing journey that you’ll ever take,” says Mills.
Because bringing a child into your home can make all the difference in the world.
“But they, they keep us going and give us a reason to keep fighting in this world [laughs],” says Mills.