Teenager Adopted By Single Dad After Wife's Death
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WUSA) - Tyler Freeman is a typical teenager. Except for the fact that he's just been adopted.
"I hope I'm doing the right thing," said Artie Bethea, a Fredericksburg minister, and Tyler's new dad.
"He wanted a mother; my wife was that perfect person. My wife loved him right away. And he loved her," Bethea said of Tyler. The Betheas have had five of their own children, all grown now, and 30 foster kids. Last year, they decided to adopt Tyler after having him as a foster child for about two years.
Then, in January, Mrs. Bethea died suddenly.
Eventually, Artie worked through his own grief and depression, and decided what he must do.
"My wife left a legacy. The legacy she left was she wanted him in the family. She said that we will adopt him, and I wanted to carry that out," said Bethea.
In November, 2011, Tyler Freeman, at 17, officially became Artie Bethea's son.
"I could visualize my wife sitting there next to him during the adoption ceremony. And I cried. I know she'd be happy," said Bethea.
And like a good parent, he is giving Tyler the unconditional love and stability he desperately needed.
"It's joyful. To have a dad like him. Who would do anything for a child like me. Despite the bad things I've done wrong. It's touching, touching," said Tyler.
Three years ago, Tyler was in a group home. He was ready to be adopted, and was given a choice of seven families. Instead of reading about them, he just randomly picked one. And struck gold with the Betheas.
" Everybody, needs somebody. I wanted Tyler to feel that he belonged to somebody and somebody belonged to him. Whether you're 17 or 27, everybody needs somebody to love. You know, that's my Dad, that's my family. It's really sad that I see 18 and 20 year old boys and girls walk away from foster care with no family," said Bethea.
Tyler is the second teenager the Betheas have adopted.
"Teenagers are a great, great joy. I've children that have gone on to college. I had one that joined the Army and shook President Obama's hand. The President of the United State," said Bethea.
Minister Bethea doesn't just change lives from the pulpit, but one by one, day by day, at his own kitchen table.
The Betheas have had five of their own children, 30 foster kids, and now two adopted children, all matched by the non-profit Phillips Programs
Written by Peggy Fox