By BRAD KELLAR
GREENVILLE — Elijah Walker has done a lot of running during his few years, but he finally found a home.
Walker fled with relatives from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He wound up in foster homes in North Texas; along with his two brothers, ages 13 and 6 and his sister, 10.
During the intervening years, his three siblings were adopted, but Elijah, 16, chose to wait until after they all were secure.
“I didn’t want to make my brothers and sister felt I was leaving them,” Elijah said. “I just felt better in my mind that they were in a safe place first.”
In July 2008, Elijah was placed by Child Protective Services (CPS) in the home of Alma Walker of Greenville.
“I told him he had a home as long as CPS allowed him to stay,” Alma said, adding that when Elijah was ready, he could decide where to be adopted. “He finally got ready to choose me.”
Elijah was one of eight children adopted into seven families during the local observance of National Adoption Day at the Hunt County Courthouse. The Nov. 5 event was sponsored by Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Hunt County.
Elijah played freshman football for the Greenville Lions this season, as a running back. He also runs track and returned to New Orleans for the Junior Olympics earlier this year, where he placed 15th in the nation in the 100-meter dash, seventh in the nation in the 4-by-100-meter relay and 20th in the four-by-400-meter relay.
“My main goal is on football right now,” Elijah explained.
Sarah Neans, Eljah’s case worker since 2008, said the idea that he would wait until his brothers and sisters were adopted came as no surprise.
“He’s very protective,” Neans said. “Eveyone who has gotten to know him is impressed by his character.”
“He’s very insightful,” added CPS program director Brenda Tucker.
While Elijah said running will continue to be a part of his life, he intends to stay in Greenville. He occasionally makes it back to New Orleans, to visit family.
“Now, I’m not too fond about it,” he said. “I wouldn’t go back.”
During the interview, Elijah is generally quiet, although he obviously has a playful side.
During the Adoption Day proceedings 196th District Court Judge Steve Tittle, after proclaiming each adoption final, posed for photos with the families, having the children sitting on his lap.
Elijah was quite a bit larger than the other adoptees, instead opting to give the judge a “high five.”
Although Elijah has been with her for a few years now, Alma said the holidays will take on a whole new meaning at their home this year.
“It does make a difference, knowing he decided to make me a part of his life,” she said.
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges in district courts who are hearing cases regarding allegations of child abuse and neglect. The appointees are assigned to meet and visit with the children and to act on their behalf when it comes time for the cases to go to court.
CASA was established in Hunt County in 2000 and is one of more than 900 such agencies across the United States. The agency is currently seeking new volunteers and also anyone interested in helping make Christmas a little brighter for the approximately 160 Hunt County children currently in foster care.
Those seeking additional information can contact CASA at 903-450-4410.