Bridgett and Matt Holder from Glen Rose are the proud parents of eight children - two of their own and six that were adopted.
After Bridgett had their now 21-year-old son Bailey and soon to be 19-year-old son Cooper, she started thinking about having more kids.
“My husband was like, ‘We’re done. We’re not going to have any more kids.’ Fast forward several years and I was like, ‘I don’t think I am done, but I don’t really want to be pregnant again. I have no desire to have another biological child.’ I kind of got a gut feeling. I say it had to have been God who just placed it to me and that was how we are supposed to grow a family and it was such a strong feeling, I couldn’t get past it,” she said.
Bridgett and Matt had no clue where to start with adopting a child so Bridgett started searching on Google. She found an adoption program in China and that’s where she found Matison who is now 7-years-old.
“We started that adoption in October of 2006. We were actually finished with all of our paperwork on the United States side and logged in. We waited for seven years to get Matison,” Bridgett said. “At this point now, China doesn’t even do non special needs adoption anymore so we were waiting a long time through that process. We started doubting [and thinking] maybe God was not telling us this was what we were supposed to do, but we stayed faithful and we just waited it out. Finally, in May of 2013, we were able to go over there and pick up Matison.”
After they got Matison settled in, they started thinking about adopting another.
“I knew that if we were going to go back to China, that it would have to be a special needs child, so we started looking into special needs and we felt really comfortable with down syndrome. We found a site called Rainbow Kids that advocate for kids with special needs,” Bridgett said.
And that is where they found Reagan.
In January 2015, the couple traveled back to China to pick up now 6-year-old Reagan. At the time of the adoption, Reagan was just shy of her fourth birthday and only weighed 13 pounds.
“She was pretty much on her death bed. We feel very confident, had we not gotten her, she would not have lived much longer,” she said.
Matt and Bridgett took care of her and she slowly started to gain weight.
“She’s doing awesome now. She goes to kindergarten here in Glen Rose. She splits time between regular ed and special ed. She has come so far,” Bridgett said.
Following Reagan’s adoption, Bridgett went on Facebook and joined many adoption and down syndrome groups.
In July 2015, she saw that someone had posted about a baby named Tobyn, who was just born in Houston. Tobyn didn’t have a family and she also had down syndrome. They sent in their information and the following day, Bridgett and Matt received a call that they had been chosen to be the adoptive parents.
“We were completely not ready, cause we were just like, shocked. We joke now that we went from the longest adoption in history with Matison, waiting seven years to absolutely the quickest, like we found out about Tobyn one day and then literally the next day we were chosen,” Bridgett said.
Tobyn needed open heart surgery so Bridgett stayed in Houston at the Ronald McDonald house for a month. Finally, Tobyn was able to come home in August 2015. Tobyn is now 3-years-old and “doing fantastic.”
Up until then, Bridgett was always the one who brought up adopting, but this time, Matt was the one who wanted to adopt another child.
“Matt came to me this time and he said, ‘You know what, I don’t think we’re done. I finally get it. God has finally spoken to me. My calling is to be a father to the fatherless,’” she said.
This time, they went through the foster care system to look for a child. They got involved with a group called Hope out of Fort Worth. Through this, they found some staggering statistics.
Somervell County’s region is called 3B which is comprised of Tarrant, Parker, Palo Pinto, Johnson, Hood and Erath counties.
In that region alone, Bridgett said there are approximately 1,300 children that are waiting to be adopted.
She also said that 74 percent of foster care children who age out of adoption end up in the U.S. prison system.
“Our U.S. prison system yearly, when they are deciding how many beds to add to their prison system, many times, their only deciding factor is how many kids are aging out of the U.S. foster system,” she said.
One in five foster children will also become homeless after age 18 because they don’t have any life skills and less than 3 percent will earn a college degree.
Hearing the statistics, Bridgett and Matt contacted Gladney, which is the oldest adoption agency in the state of Texas.
Through that agency they adopted three siblings; Trento, 7, Ava, 5, and Sam, 3, in November 2018.
Although Matt and Bridgett have their hands full, that’s not all they have accomplished.
“We also have an orphan care closet that we started at Stonewater Church for emergency placements with CPS,” Matt said. “If they pull a child out and have nothing, and they are placed with a family, they can call us and we will meet them out there any time, day or night, and get them whatever they need to get those kids in the house and feeling comfortable.”
As for the future, Bridgett said there have been talks about adopting more children.
“We have actually just kind of started talking about it. We have room in our home. We do have an extra bedroom. I don’t know, but like I said we’re kind of throwing it around, talking about it and seeing what that would look like. We say that we’re never going to close that door, so we’ll see what happens,” she said.