The teenage orphan whose heart-wrenching plea for a family made headlines last year is still waiting for his happy ending.
The story of Davion Only, 16, of Florida, went viral after he stood in front of the congregation at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg and made a plea for an adoptive family in September. Born in prison and shuffled through the foster care system his whole life, Only had recently begun work with specialists at foster agency Eckerd Community Alternatives to improve his grades, address his emotional issues and get him on track to a healthier lifestyle.
After first being reported by the Daily Mail, Only's story went viral. Eckerd received thousands of calls and emails from people interested in Only's case. By the time December came, it was reported by various media outlets that he would be spending Christmas with a prospective family.
Alas, the good news proved false. The Tampa Bay Times reports that claims regarding the "prospective family" were exaggerated and that the foster family did not have any plans to adopt him. Only is still up for adoption.
"Something doesn't seem right. I pray about it," Only's mentor, Richard Prince, 22, told the Times. "He's changed schools and foster homes, and he's not allowed to tell me certain things. People want to hear a happy ending, but it's not too clear what's going on."
Eckerd spokesperson Terri Durdaller told the Times that 10,000 calls that came in for Only, and 2,500 were returned. Hundreds of people apparently reached out to the Times saying they could not get in touch with anyone at Eckerd and that their messages were going unanswered. Only is no longer allowed to speak to the media and does not have a phone or email. His Facebook page is private.
Durdaller told The Huffington Post in an emailed statement that most of those 10,000 calls were "well-wishes, offers of support or general questions." She claims Eckerd followed up with families legitimately interested in adoption. The Eckerd website states the adoption process takes between nine and 12 months.
"This is a step by step progression that takes time and our first priority is ensuring that Davion builds a strong relationship and has a successful adoption with his forever family," wrote Durdaller. "Eckerd is bound by strict confidentiality requirements that don’t allow us to share specific information about children in foster care or their case plans."
She did say Eckerd considers important factors like whether or not the youth has bonded with the family and if the family is fully capable to care for the child. "Rushing this process for the sake of expediency is the single most important factor that causes adoptions to fail," she added.
Only spent time with a relative between December and January to determine if long-term placement was possible. It was later determined the match-up was "not the right fit for the two of them." Recently, Only has been meeting with another prospective family, and the visits are "progressively expanding," Durdaller said.
According to Davion's profile on the Heart Gallery Kids site, he is listed as "currently matched with a family."
For more information on Davion Only or the other foster children of Eckerd call 1-866-233-0790 or go to Eckerd.org/Davion.