Foster-turned-adoptive mother watches her sons walk across stage at graduation

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 3:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (WBAL) – High school graduation is extra sweet for two teens in Maryland as they were supported by the woman who adopted them.

Gordon Burrell and Dennis Parker walked across the stage to collect their diplomas from New Town High School as their adoptive mother, Cecilia McFadden, looked on.

“She brought me in, she made sure we had everything. Made sure we was at school. Without her, there would be no graduation,” Burrell said.

McFadden fostered Parker when he was a week old and Burrell when he was two.

A few years later, she adopted them.

The graduates credit McFadden for pushing them to do their best.

“She got on my butt every day,” Parker said. “I don’t know, she always told me the right things to do.”

McFadden has fostered 15 children, adopted three and has two biological children.

“You get them so young, you get attached to them,” she said. “You don’t want to take them back.”

Burrell also faced the added challenge of having severe hearing loss and he said he was bullied and called names at school.

“Honestly, without a mother, I’d have just gone into foster care and everything,” Burrell said. “My life probably would have been messed up. Probably would have been in the streets, maybe selling drugs, a lot of other stuff. She was there, she was the protector, the caregiver. She made sure no matter what we never looked down on ourselves.”

McFadden said too many young black men are lost to the streets due to the lack of support.

“I said ‘You already have two things going wrong for you right now, you’re black and you’re male,’” she said. “I said ‘You need that education.’ And I said ‘If you get that education, no one can take that away from you. As long as you can read and write and count, you’re going to be okay. You can make it.’”

Burrell and Parker are now off to start their next chapters. Burrell is off to college to study music, while Parker is planning to learn a trade.