Two years ago, Dominique and Kevin Gill opened their Nashville, Tennessee, home to a withdrawn foster child named Andrew.
Andrew, who was 10 at the time, had been in state custody since the age of 6, when his parents' parental rights were terminated.
“Andrew has four siblings and they were all adopted right away,” Dominique, 27, told TODAY Parents. “During his first week with us, he sat in his room with the door closed and looked at old pictures. He didn't want to talk."
Then one day, Dominique’s son Joc asked Andrew if he wanted to play video games. To Joc’s surprise, Andrew nodded his head.
“They’ve been best friends ever since,” Dominique revealed of the boys, who are now finally brothers.
In May, Dominique and Kevin asked Andrew, 12, if he wanted to become a permanent part of their family.
The Gills never planned to adopt when they began fostering, they just wanted to help as many kids as they could like Dominique's parents had done when she was growing up. But after a second adoption fell through for Andrew, Dominique knew the shy seventh grader was meant to be their child.
"Our mindset was we'd help him until he found his forever home," Dominique explained. "But after the second adoption didn't work out, I realized God put Andrew in our lives for a reason. God made sure the adoption didn't work out so he could come back to us."
Andrew broke down in tears when the Gills asked him if he wanted to stay with them forever.
“From the beginning, Andrew has always said, ‘Thank you for accepting me,’ ‘Thank you you for not giving up on me,’” Dominique shared. “People would read his file and get scared away. But I knew he was a good child who had experienced a lot of trauma.”
Dominique noted that in the beginning, Andrew would “scream and behave badly” to try to push them away.
“He’d start shouting, ‘Just let me move out!’ But I refused to give up on him,” Dominique said. “I was like, ‘We are going to get you together.’”
With love and consistency, the Gill family did just that. Andrew has learned to control his emotions and has not had an outburst in over a year. But the Gills still get a lot of looks when they're out in public.
"Because Andrew is white and we're Black, people will stare at us," Dominique said. "They're confused."
Race has never been an issue for Andrew or his adoptive family. He checked the "no preference" box when he was asked about his race preference for his foster parents.
"Love doesn’t have a color. (Andrew) is our son just like Joc is our son," Dominique told TODAY Parents. "He’s a part of us.”