Friszell family: Bits and pieces make a whole
The Friszell family came together in bits and pieces, from different places.
When Charmion and Todd Friszell got married, they knew they wanted kids. Charmion had always worked with children -- she's now the principal at Gamewell Elementary.
But the years passed, and it wasn't happening.
Then one day, Charmion was reading the newspaper over coffee. She came across a story about a family that had fostered to adopt, and she knew.
Todd took a little more convincing. But the signs kept coming. By the time he spent his workday (he works for the Hickory Fire Department) with a charity for foster children, he knew, too.
"I said, 'God, you've given me three signs now. I can't ignore that,'" he said.
They fostered, and later adopted, Emma and Elijah, now 13. They hadn't planned to adopt twins, but they're not the type to turn down a child who needs a home.
For the Friszells, more is merrier. They've proved it more than once.
A few years after the twins, they adopted another pair of siblings: Alyts, now 8, and Donovyn, now 6.
And not quite a year after that, they were on their way to Vacation Bible School when they got another phone call. Ella, who is Alyta and Donovyn's biological sister, was being out up for adoption. Could they come pick her up?
Charmion is the quintessential mom, even to kids who aren't hers yet. She said she didn't even hesitate when she got the first call about Ella, or any of her other children.
"I don't even think twice," she said. "I just throw the junk out if the van and make some room."
Today, all five siblings look alike, even though they're from two different biological families. It's not their physical appearance so much as their mannerisms and personalities.
They're all bright, fun, polite. The twins talk with adults like they're two times their age.
That's probably because Charmion has that habit of all the best moms: She talks to her kids like grown-ups.
In an interview, Charmion and Todd brought up the concept of reunification in the adoption world. Alyta asked what that was.
And calmly, lovingly, Charmion explained to her daughter that in foster situations, the first priority is always to reunite kids with their birth families when it's possible.
"But even in families where that doesn't happen," she told her, "that doesn't mean they don't love them. It doesn't mean they don't think about them every day."
That was all the answer Alyta needed.
It's always been the Friszells' policy to be honest with their kids. They've always known they were adopted -- their parents didn't even consider doing it another way, Todd said.
And the Friszells have become advocates for adoption, too. They tell everyone they know they can change a child's life, that all try have to do is call the Department of Social Services.
This wasn't the way the couple expected to build their family. Charmion had never considered adoption, she said.
But one look at her five kids and you can see it was meant to be the whole time.
The kids orbit around their mom. When Todd works nights, they'll all pile into her bed. When any of them has a question, you can see their eyes dart toward Charmion immediately.
All five kids have the confidence and calm of children with two excellent parents.
Adoption wasn't the plan when Charmion and Todd started their lives together. But this family, which came together in bits and pieces, makes up one very whole thing: Love.