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SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2005
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Mom defined
Dawn Evans and Sam

By Patrice Stewart
DAILY Staff Writer

pstewart@decaturdaily.com 340-2446

Cancer does not respect the wishes of foster mothers, either.

Dawn Evans and her husband, Arthur, decided to share their hearts and home with a foster child nearly four years ago.

Cancer claimed her husband in 2003, and suddenly she was on her own as a single foster mother. She decided to go ahead with their plan to adopt the child they had hoped to rear together.

Today is special for Evans, because it's her son Sam's fourth birthday, as well as her first Mother's Day since his legal adoption became final. She's been his foster mom since he was about 4 months old, but now they're officially a team.

"There have been some major changes in my life," said the Decatur woman, a production technician at Boeing. "It was pretty hard trying to hang onto a job and take care of a sick husband and a baby, too."

Evans, 40, said she was always a very dependent person. "I used to tell Arthur that he couldn't die, because I had no idea how to do it on my own. It's been a tremendous challenge."

In addition to her mother, father and brothers, who live in the area, she has some extra help that is priceless. Because she must be at work at 6 a.m., long before Sam is due at his preschool class, Ken and Kelly Hayes help out. "They are his godparents and help with respite care, since they don't keep foster children now," she said. "At 5:30 every morning I take him to them, and they take him to school later and also keep him a lot on weekends to give me free time."

Evans said she couldn't have children of her own, "so everybody thinks that was why we chose to be foster parents. But it really wasn't like it was to fill my need to have a child — it was because I wanted to take care of children that needed to be taken care of, not because of my own needs."

She and her husband "had space and love to share as foster parents, and we felt that was something we could do and a way to give back to the kids. We never had any intention of adopting; my husband told them he wanted a school-age boy to do things with." But the Department of Human Resources wanted to place a baby boy who would be available for adoption.

The current trend is toward more foster parents adopting their children, she said. She takes Sam to play with his biological brother and to visit other relatives.

Now Evans fills her afternoons and weekends with ice skating and other activities with Sam, whom she says is very bright. He started watching figure skaters on television and wanted to take lessons, so she enrolled him in a class and private lessons at the Point Mallard ice rink, where she gave his birthday party Saturday.

"Now he's asked about karate classes and soccer, so I guess that's next," she said. "And he loves motorcycles and race cars, so I took him to Talladega last week.

"I'm learning a lot about boy things, but I never would have imagined I'd be doing this."

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