- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Benton boys arrive home from school in a jumble through the front door of their Waldorf house, clambering to shrug off book bags and coats. Their older sister, Abby, quickly shoots up the stairs and out of the way while another sister, Theresa, who is home-schooled, ignores the boys who finally trudge up the stairs, except for Sam, 4, who heads downstairs to start a video game.
Their parents, Bill and Toni Benton, find themselves parents of a brood of eight lively children.
Toni’s biological son, Johnny Butler, 25, an Air Force Academy graduate, lives in Nebraska with his wife, Tamra.
But in Waldorf, the Bentons are looking after a group ranging from 18 to 2 all adopted.
“We saw the empty nest coming, and I’m not ready for that,” Toni said. “We went through the whole infertility thing.”
In June 2000, the couple started paperwork to adopt a child from Xianyang, Shaanxi Province in China. Theresa Lin, now 11, was the first child the Bentons adopted.
She came home to Maryland in 2002. Abby was adopted in 2004, and on a mission trip to Abby’s orphanage, Toni met 10-year-old Faith, who was deaf.
Faith signed “me love you” in Toni’s hand.
Faith was adopted in 2006.
Now 18, she’s a student at Gallaudet University’s high school program in Washington, D.C.
She is thinking of continuing there for college.
Because of China’s one-child policy and the importance boys have in the culture, orphanages are filled with girls, Toni said.
But Bill wanted another son.
Boys who are put up for adoption usually have health issues or disabilities.
Alex, adopted in 2007, had a cleft lip and cleft palate, both repaired. Sam, 4, adopted in 2010, has a congenital heart defect, and David, 4, and A.J., 2, both adopted in 2012 from the same orphanage, have hypospadias, a urological issue.
None of the health concerns are that bad, Toni said.
The boys are regular kids, playing sports, bombing toward the swing set, roughhousing and playing with the family dog.
“This started out with me wanting a kid,” Toni said. “But every kid should have a family.”
Bill and Toni will hold an Adopted by Design seminar Nov. 10 at the First Baptist Church of Waldorf, their home church, which has helped the family tremendously through their adoption journeys.
The Bentons considered domestic adoption, but when that didn’t work out, they started working with America World Adoption, a Christian-based program that arranges adoptions in the U.S. as well as Brazil, China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya and Russia.
The seminar is open to any individual or family who is considering adoption or has ever thought about it.
“Anyone who is thinking about it or who have any questions about adoption,” said Bill on who would benefit from the program.
“Not everyone is called to adopt,” Toni said, but they could be perfect to help families who are. “It’s not as scary as it sounds. Do we struggle? Yep. Would I do it all again? Yep. God is at work. I’ve never seen a match that was wrong. We trust that God knows what he’s doing.”