Sunday, April 16, 2000

Couple adopting four siblings

BY Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jackie Frye was just headed out the door, but she's never too busy to share good news about her children: The adoption papers have been submitted.

[photo] Jackie Frye and one of her foster children.
(Stephen M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
        Jackie, 38, and her husband, Rodney Frye, 40, of College Hill, plan to adopt the four foster children who were in her mother's care when she died. Finances are a concern, but the Fryes are forging ahead, with the children's wholehearted approval.

        “They told me if they could win the lottery they would give me the money to adopt them today,” Jackie says. “They want it just as much as I do. If they were to be let go, it would hurt me dearly. It would be like losing a part of my mom.”

        The Enquirer first wrote about the Fryes last May 21. Freda “Fre-Fre” Strader, Jackie's mother, was the children's foster mother who had lovingly cared for them since 1995. These were children who used to hoard food in their bedrooms at Fre-Fre's, because they came from a home where there wasn't enough to eat.

        A Beech Acres social worker said the children's mother had severely neglected them. Beech Acres is a child-focused, family service organization.

        Just when their lives were turning around, Fre-Fre died on Memorial Day 1998. Within days, Jackie packed her belongings and moved from Fort Eustis, Va., to continue her mother's work. Rodney joined her later.

        On Thursday, Beech Acres honored the couple with an Excellence Award, , given annually to those who have shared their love, expertise and energy to help Beech Acres' children.

        That's why Jackie was going shopping — for new clothes and shoes for the children to wear to the awards ceremony. She asked Beech Acres if the children could attend, because without them, the couple wouldn't be getting an award.

        The three boys and one girl range in age from 8 to 12. They cannot be named because they are foster children.

        “I'm hoping before the year is out, their last names will finally be Frye,” Jackie says. On second thought, she adds, “If they want to keep their maiden names, that's fine with me.”

        Adoption is something the Fryes, who've been married 12 years, intended and prayed for since they took in the children. At one time, the children were on the open adoption list, which meant there was always a chance someone else could adopt them — together or separately. It was worrisome.

        The Fryes will lose foster care payments when they adopt, but they're confident they can make do. Rodney works full time at Home Depot, and Jackie is looking for a part-time job. She wants to be home for the kids before and after school.

        Once the children are adopted, the Fryes plan to hang onto their foster parents' license. They'll look for a foster child, a girl, close to the 8-year-old's age.

        The other good news in the Fryes' lives is a new granddaughter, Taahirah, who will be a month old Monday. “She looks just like my mother,” Jackie says. Their only child, Dashia, also has a 2-year-old daughter, Ariel.

        That's a lot of excitement in one year. “I am blessed every day,” Jackie says. “As long as I have my family, I have nothing to complain about.”


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