- This story originally appeared in the February 2024 relationship issue of COMO Magazine.
Making memories is a priority for this Columbia foster family.
Clint Sinclair vividly remembers Wednesday, July 8, 2020. That was the day he and Davon Argo welcomed two children — a brother and a sister — into their home as their first placement after becoming licensed foster parents.
“Our first placement was suggested to us by our advocate at the time, who said they thought it would be a good fit,” Sinclair says. “We had actually done respite care the week before for five boys, and we decided that if we could survive that, we could survive anything. I was very nervous. I didn’t know what to expect; we didn’t have any background on the kids and bringing them into our home was a little scary for me.”
On October 23, 2023, Sinclair and Argo officially finalized their adoption of those siblings who stole their hearts more than three years prior — Darryl Reese, now 16, and Naeema Reese, now 6.
It was a whirlwind experience for the couple, who decided to get their foster care license after running into barriers with adoption agencies.
“We had looked into local agencies around Columbia and none of them did adoptions for same-sex couples,” Argo says. “One agency recommended another that did do adoptions for same-sex couples, but it was a terrible process. It felt like a waste of time and money, and it didn’t ever materialize into anything.”
Once Sinclair and Argo found Coyote Hill Foster Care Services in Columbia, the process moved fast. The first step was becoming licensed to care for children in the foster care system. Because it was during the height of COVID, the couple completed an online course via Zoom.
“It was several weeks of two to three-hour sessions,” Argo says. “You go through the process and learn about the foster care system, kids in foster care, what to expect. You get an idea of what it will be like to be a foster parent.”
After a home visit, the couple was put on the list to start taking placements.
“To me, it’s been shocking to learn how many homes are needed for kids, and we get notifications multiple times a week about kids needing placement,” Sinclair says. “Sometimes our home is full and we can’t; sometimes it is just not right for the family dynamic.”
When they brought Darryl and Naeema into their home, Sinclair says he and Argo “dove off the deep end into parenthood.” While their parenting journey was and continues to be challenging in a variety of ways, the couple says there are many resources available for foster parents and children, and those resources have made a world of difference for their family.
“When you get a foster placement you get a laundry basket for the kids full of bedding, hair care products, socks,” Sinclair says. “Every kid placed in Boone County gets this basket so they have something of their own. There are also so many resources out there to help foster parents deal with things like trauma and therapy.”
While therapy has proven helpful for their children, Argo says it has been especially helpful as he and Sinclair parent a teen.
“It’s extremely different to know what is him being a teen and pushing boundaries versus he has a need that isn’t being met from trauma in the past,” Argo says. “These kids come to your home and the only thing they know is what their past experiences are. Maybe it wasn’t well-received if they opened up to someone before. Maybe they’re private kids. That’s why therapy has been great. We keep a constant communication with the therapist, which has made it easier for us to navigate.”
Making an Impact
Throughout their foster parenting journey, Sinclair and Argo have cared for emergency placements for a night or two and welcomed two long-term placements. No matter how long the children stay, Argo says the kids stay in their hearts forever.
“Even if you don’t have them for a long time, you become invested in them,” Argo says. “You can’t help but learn to care about them and want to know what happens to them, even if it was only a short-term placement.”
While the calls seeking homes for foster placements come almost daily, Sinclair says the family has learned through trial and error how new placements can affect the family dynamic. At this point in their journey, and based on the age of their children, the couple agrees that teen boys are their focus.
“Unfortunately teens are not popular” for foster families, Argo says. “Very few people want to take on teens who come with trauma, are not always easy to get along with, who have a sense of identity from their past life. We’ve really focused on trying to help teens. They get forgotten and pushed aside because they aren’t the cute cuddly kids that people want.”
They learned through the training process that foster parents are encouraged to take pictures and make a memory book for each child, even if they are only in their care for a short time. Making memories with their children is high on their list of priorities, especially as Darryl is 16.
“We don’t have a lot of time with Darryl before he turns 18, and we are trying to build memories and set any kids who come into our home up for success regardless of the goals of their case,” Sinclair says. “In the first year we had Darryl and Naeema, we took them to Disney and we took Darryl to an NBA game for his birthday.”
While it hasn’t been an easy road, Argo says that watching both of his kids grow and find success is extremely rewarding.
“Naeema is learning to read, and watching Darryl succeed at basketball is amazing,” Argo says. “I remember when he showed up. He looked terrified. To go from that little scared boy to a kid that is becoming a man over the next couple years, to see how much progress he’s made mentally, physically, emotionally, how much he can cope with — I don’t think a lot of adults could go through what he’s been through with his outlook. I’m really proud of him.”
Though they take each day as it comes, the couple does agree that there is room in their hearts to care for more children.
“Davon and I agree that more placements are absolutely in our future,” Sinclair says.