November Baptisms Mark Adoption Month
By Amanda Hudson
November 23, 2017
EAST DUBUQUE—On Nov. 3 at St. Mary Church, here, Tony and Abby Ball officially adopted and baptized four new family members.
 
Kior, 7; Makenna, 6; Omari, 4; and baby Calvin joined their parents, brother Vincent, 8, and sisters Cecelia, 10, and Estelle, 4, in wearing t-shirts proclaiming “Ball” as their last name. 
 
Their new grandfather, Deacon Tony Keppler, baptized them.
 
The Balls have been fostering children since July 2014.
 
“All the other ones have gone back to their parents,” Abby says, explaining that Kior, Makenna and Omari came to the Ball household in November of 2015 for several months. 
 
They were returned to their mother for a couple of months, then came back to the Ball household, along with baby Calvin, in November of last year.
 
When children are pulled out of their original homes a second time, Abby says, foster parents are asked if they would be willing to adopt those children if the courts terminate the original parents’ rights.
 
When she asked her husband about the call that might come, she says, “He said ‘Yes, and we will say yes!’”
 
Even so, it was “a long road,” Abby says, “through all the court hearings, all the meetings we had to get through. It seemed every month we were waiting for a different decision.”
 
It was almost a year before the adoptions were finalized.
 
“Adoption was something we were always open to, if it came,” Abby says. “Our first priority was that our other kids were doing well with it. If they wanted it and were doing okay, we knew that would be a possibility.”
 
She says their new four “match very very well” with their three biological children — in age and in meshing well with the family. “We feel they’re ours, and they feel we’re their mom and dad, brothers and sisters,” Abby says. “It seemingly came out pretty amazing; we couldn’t be happier with (how it) turned out.”
 
The couple has been married 11 years. Abby works for an education agency as a special education teacher for youngsters aged birth to three years. Tony is a physical education teacher in the Dubuque schools. Abby has two brothers and two sisters; Tony comes from a family with three children.
 
Both families have been very supportive, Abby notes. “They have taken them in as nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, and godchildren. We honestly couldn’t have done it without them and their unconditional love and support.”
 
There was, she says, “Lots of praying when we were making the decisions. Lots of praying for the children, the family that they came from (and) a lot of talking to each other, at church, with people in the parish community.
 
“I’ve always wanted a large family (but) I don’t know how large ‘large’ is. We were teetering on a four-to-five-children mark. Obviously it took us a while to get into this, (and it’s been) a good transition into the seven.”
 
When asked about fostering additional children, Abby notes that, “We probably will (but) at this point, I think we could only have one more. Our thought is maybe (to do) respite” fostering, where foster families need a week or so off and foster children spend that time with another family.
 
It’s such a great need,” she says. “There are many more children than families. I hope the (idea) does get spread.”
 
Whether or not they are approved to continue to foster, Abby and Tony appreciate the support of their faith, of their families and of their faith family. 
 
“It takes many people to raise a village,” she says, “and we have the village and the many supportive people, which is why we are able to do what we did. We are truly blessed.”