Tragedy leads a local family to grow through adoption - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Tragedy leads a local family to grow through adoption

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(KYTX) – An East Texas man is serving a life sentence for the beating death of his two-year old daughter. The murder happened in August, 2011 when 22-year-old Dramon Green killed one of his twin daughters. After problems with the mother too, the surviving twin ended up in foster care.

"We got a phone call that said, 'We don't know if you saw the news the night before about a story about a surviving twin of just this traumatic thing that happened.' And we said, 'We did actually see that story,'" recalled Kevin East.

That phone call changed the lives of the East family. They were given just five minutes to decide if they would take in, and adopt, a 2-year-old girl who's twin sister had just been murdered.

"We prayed about it as a family sitting on this ottoman and our kids were like, 'We have to do it dad, we have to do it!'"

At the time, Stephanie and Kevin East were fostering a baby boy whom they planned to adopt.

Stephanie said, "When we got him, he was a whopping six pounds." Kevin added, "Part of it was we have a child of a different ethnicity in our home already and we were kind of saying we don't want him to feel like he's being raised on the moon and then we thought what if we adopted another child so that one things not like the other type thing."

And in the blink of an eye, their family grew to five children after Levi and Hannah became a permanent part of their family.

"I thought it was exciting and that it would be fun to have more people in our family and especially Levi and Hannah because she is so fun and joyful and Levi's laugh is so cool," said 8-year-old Walker of his new siblings.

His four-year-old sister, Maddry, said, "They are nice and cute."

Looking at her new family Hannah said, "I love to play with them on the trampoline and I like to play with them inside my room and have tea parties."

After a traumatic start to life, Hannah, now 4years-old, couldn't be happier. I asked her what she thought of her new mom and dad. She replied sweetly, "I love them."

Stephanie and Kevin acknowledge the dark side of Hannah's past. "Her dad is obviously in prison for life and her mom is back in jail for things," said Kevin.

But they want Hannah to embrace the good memories and understand her story. They do that by pictures hanging on her bedroom wall. Pointing at one of them Kevin said, "This is a birthday party they were having for the twins about a month before A'yanna's death."

Adoption changed this East Texas family in many ways. "I had always wanted to adopt, even as a child," said Stephanie. "But that was definitely not on his radar when we first met."

"I wasn't big on adoption. I thought, why would you do that," said Kevin.

The more this couple learned about the needs of children and prayed for answers, Kevin's heart and mind were changed. He said, "Somebody's got to do something. Families have got to start doing something about this.

The affect on their biological children has been nothing but positive. "For our kids, they are having to think about someone other than themselves and you could say the cliche' they have to share their toys, but it's also to love the other when they are hurting or choosing to put the other first before themselves," said Stephanie.

A wall of pictures in their home tells a story. A story of hope, faith, family and a lot of love.

"It is being who God has called us to be," said Kevin.

Stephanie added, "I know some people may think we are doing something extraordinary, but I couldn't imagine not doing this. This is real life for us!"

To learn more about the East family, join Gillian Sheridan for her "Children are a Gift" report, Tuesday night on CBS 19 Ten @ 10. You can also find information on www.cbs19.tv. To inquire about an East Texas child waiting to be adopted call 903-533-4242.

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