Last Friday, a 9-year-old boy stood outside his house selling lemonade. But unlike most third-graders, he wasn’t trying to buy a new toy. He was raising money for his own adoption.
For just one dollar, passersby could help Tristan Jacobson achieve his dream of having a permanent, legal family.
Donnie Davis, his adoptive mother, was given custody of him when he was 5, though she'd known him since birth. He often spent weekends and holidays with Davis and her husband, Jimmy, when his birth mother allowed it.
While Jacobson lived with his birth mother for the majority of his early childhood, she did allow the Davises to have temporary custody of Jacobson from age 3 to 4 and a half. But, according to Davis, it wasn't "legal in any way."
Eventually, the Davises say, Jacobson's birth mother took him back before abandoning him at Rare Breed Youth Services, a homeless children's center, at age 5.
When Tristan needed the Davises the most, they were ready.
Child Services placed Jacobson with the Davises as his kinship guardians. While living in a stable and loving two-parent home immediately benefitted Jacobson, the transition hasn't been easy.
"Even knowing me all his life, it was hard for him to have that trust and reassurance," Davis told A Plus. "[If he'd had] to go into a home with people he didn't know, that would've been a lot of harder for him."
Diagnosed with ADHD and PTSD, Jacobson was put in therapy six months after moving in with the Davises and has been going ever since. Davis added that "just knowing me and my husband are there" also helped Jacobson adjust to his new life. "Whenever something happens, we talk to him about it," she said. "I think that knowing that and trusting us has helped him work through it."
Though Davis is not biologically related to Jacobson and was unable to raise him from birth, she has always considered him an important and irreplaceable part of her family. "Tristan is not a foster child," she said. "We're not his foster family."
Make no mistake: Jacobson is already the Davises’ son. He just wants to make it official.
Jacobson has been involved in every step of the adoption process from the beginning, so he knew his family's biggest obstacle was getting the $5,000 needed for all the legal and adoption fees. "He always asked me, 'Do we have the money yet? Do we have the money yet?'" Davis told A Plus. Even when she was about to leave for work, he'd say, "Make sure you make a lot of money for the adoption!"
And that's exactly why he wanted to chip in and do his part.
This past weekend, the Davis family decided to host a yard sale to raise money for the adoption. "Just in every aspect of our life we've been downsizing — anything we could do to get money for the attorney, for the adoption," she said. For example, the Davises have decreased their car insurance and switched from contract phones to prepaid ones. "So I said, "OK, we're gonna start downsizing our stuff."
Davis helped her mother with a yard sale two years ago, where they had a lemonade stand. Davis suggested the idea to Jacobson as a way for him to take a part of the adoption process into his own hands. "He was all for it," she told A Plus. Altogether, the yard sale and lemonade stand raised $7,100.
Along with the yard sale and lemonade stand, Davis created a YouCaring page after Googling different ideas on how to raise money for adoption. Through her YouCaring page, Davis raised another $12,145. The leftover funds will go towards Jacobson's education.
Though, hopefully, his next teacher will call him by a different name.
While meeting with an attorney, Davis learned children often change their middle names when they're adopted. She immediately told Jacobson, who decided that he wanted to change his first name.
Together, they went through a list of popular names, but he wasn't interested in any of them. So Davis asked Tristan, "What's your favorite movie right now?" He said Guardians of the Galaxy and asked if he could name himself after Starlord, the main character.
Davis suggested Peter Quill, Starlord's real name, instead. Peter didn't seem to fit Tristan, but they both agreed Quill felt just right. "I said to him, 'You know how special you are? There's no other kid in the world who has picked his own name," Davis recalled.
Now that the Davis family has raised enough money, they're hoping Quill Tristan Davis will be legally theirs in about six months.
"We already filed before we started this, but nothing had really moved," Davis told A Plus. Now that they have enough money, however, the process should go much faster. Davis was already planning on meeting with the necessary people while waiting for a court date.
"Just waking up every day and having him in our family is the most amazing thing we have," she told A Plus. "We couldn't imagine life without him."