The Time to Step Up
A young, single father opens his home to a cousin in-need and builds a unique family.
Sometimes in life you are confronted with the challenge of deciding how you will stand for your family. Trestan was only 24 years old when he found out his 11-year-old cousin Tyreal was living in a group home. Tyreal’s father had recently passed away and his mother was struggling and unable to care for him. At the time, Trestan and his girlfriend were raising their 6-month-old daughter and living what he describes as a “pretty normal life.” They were living in an apartment, going to work, and spending time with friends. But when Trestan found out about the situation facing Tyreal, he asked himself what he would want someone to do if he were in Tyreal’s shoes. He felt compelled to step up and take action, so he began putting the pieces in place to begin the adoption process. He traveled every other weekend to visit his cousin in the group home and began a journey that would forever change his life.
Not long after going through with the adoption, Trestan unexpectedly became a single parent and he noticed the challenges facing Tyreal as he adjusted to the new situation. The trust between them was not immediate. Trestan remembers struggling to find food that Tyreal would eat and tried preparing anything he could to make Tyreal comfortable. For the first three months, all Tyreal would eat was milk and cereal. “I started going through milk jugs every single week! And giant bags of cereal!” Trestan recalled. “But that settled him and made him feel wanted.”
“I knew I was the person who had to step up. Tyreal needed to be with family. If I didn’t do it, who else would?”
As long as he knew Tyreal felt wanted, Trestan felt he was succeeding as a parent. The two began to bond over common interests like video games, but for Trestan, the most important thing was having open communication.
“I would just sit down and talk to him. I was very honest with him and I wanted him to know that he could trust me.” It took time, but once Tyreal began to trust Trestan, the two formed a special bond.
“My life isn’t that drastically different since the adoption,” Trestan casually admits. “I’m still working, we moved into a house, and I don’t hang out with friends as often, but that is just a normal part of getting older.”
Trestan is now 29 years old and a single dad to 17-year-old Tyreal and his five-year-old and one-year-old daughters. Trestan values having open communication and the time he spends with his children is very intentional. While Tyreal is with him full time, Trestan has his daughters every other week. When they are all together, they love to go to places like trampoline parks and aquariums and they frequently go roller skating and drive go carts.
“They’re good kids. I can take them anywhere and we have fun. They all have their own personalities and things they like, but we always have fun together.” Over the years, Tyreal and Trestan have become “stuck together like glue.” They travel together frequently, often visiting Trestan’s father in Washington D.C.
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For Tyreal’s upcoming birthday, they are planning to embark on an adventure that will be a first for both of them. “We’re going to get on a plane for the first time,” Trestan admits, his voice simultaneously excited and nervous. “I told Tyreal to pick anywhere he wants to go, but he hasn’t decided yet. If he doesn’t tell me soon, I’m just going to pick. He loves the beach, so maybe Miami.”
As Tyreal continues to overcome the challenges he’s faced in the wake of his childhood, Trestan is quick to boast about his accomplishments. Despite battling challenges in school, Tyreal is now succeeding and loves to educate others about the things he is passionate about.
When Trestan decided to adopt Tyreal, he had no experience caring for an older child, but he did not let that stop him. “I knew I was the person who had to step up. Tyreal needed to be with family. If I didn’t do it, who else would?”
Providing support and stability for his children motivates Trestan to create a strong foundation for them. He has never had any second thoughts about his decision to adopt Tyreal and is proud of the life they have made together. “No matter your age, if you know that you can do something for a family member or another person, do it. It puts a smile on their face and they will know that they are wanted.”