Adopted in adulthood


POSTED: Sunday, February 01, 2009

Even though he is 32 years old, David Louis, who grew up in foster care since he was 2, always wanted parents.

This summer, Louis, who has a wife and three children, will gain a new mother and father.

Aiea residents Joe and Sharon De Moor are adopting Louis, executive director of Heart Gallery of America, a nonprofit group that helps foster kids find families.

“;It seems like the natural thing to do,”; De Moor, 66, said. “;Think of all the children he's helped, and yet he's never actually had his own family.”;

An adult civil adoption is similar to adoption of a minor, except that the legal process is easier for adults. Through the adoption, Louis will change his legal name, share inheritance rights with new family members, and give his new mother legal rights to care for his children.

Adult adoptions may be uncommon because people are unaware of it and assume adults have less desire to be adopted, Louis said.

“;I think the exact opposite is true. Every year that goes by it becomes more and more a yearning for youths. Even though I built my own family, I was still looking to add to it. It never ends.”;

Louis said he's never met his biological father and his mother, a drug addict, was unable to take care of him. He was placed in foster care, growing up in about 30 placements and attending 19 schools.

In some of those foster homes, Louis said he was hit with a bullwhip, sexually abused and separated from his younger brother, the only family he knew at the time.

Louis came to Hawaii in the 1990s, met his wife, Dove, and had two biological children, Adina, 8, and Louis, 5. In November, he adopted a 17-year-old son, Luke De Moor, who took his adoptive grandparents' name.

While working as a youth counselor in Hawaii, he wrote a book about his traumatic childhood, “;Scars That Can Heal.”;

In 2005, he started Heart Gallery Hawaii, a nonprofit group that helps orphans find new parents. He became the national executive director last year.

As an adult, Louis turned down previous offers to be adopted.

“;It's been kind of a long search,”; he said. “;It means a lot. Means that I have a connection. There's always been such an emptiness there when I think of my own children (who didn't have grandparents).”;

Sharon De Moor met Louis at a meeting at the Aiea Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses and after reading his book, felt a connection with him because she also was abused as a child.

“;I understood the deep pain,”; she said. “;You don't just forget that.”;

The next time she saw him, she told him, “;You need a big hug.”;

“;It just kind of progressed,”; said De Moor, who retired from the mortgage industry. “;What he's always wanted and never had was his own family and we're just happy to fill in that gap for him. You can't fill in all those years, but you can start somewhere.”;

Luke De Moor, an orphan for five years, said he's happy to see his father get the same chance he did at adoption.

“;I can't explain how happy I am for him,”; he said. “;Every kid who doesn't have a family wants a family, but not every family is willing to take a kid in.”;