"If you get to know them, you just fall in love with them," says Shannon Pinkerton
Every child deserves a family. Shannon Pinkerton learned that truth from her parents, who ran a group home for children with special needs.
So in 2009, when the opportunity arose to foster Joey, a 10-year-old with Down syndrome, the decision was easy. [“My son, Cody,] begged us to adopt him,” she tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. “I’ve always had a heart for these kids."
Nearly 15 years later, Shannon, 52, and her husband, Troy, 56, have adopted not only Joey, now 23, but five other young men with Down syndrome: Devlin, 18, Julian, 20, Cameron, 23, Anthony, 25, and Tracee, 28. Some of the young men also have developmental disabilities like nonverbal autism and dwarfism.
Shannon says there’s never a dull moment, whether they’re riding horses on the 40 acres of land at their home in Glenrock, Wyo., collecting eggs from the chickens they raise, or just heading to Sam’s Club on a grocery run.
“They are happy about being here because they don’t live a boring life,” says Troy, a coal miner. “They are either camping or going to Disneyland or riding horses. If they were maybe in a facility, they’d live day by day and wouldn’t get to do what so-called normal people get to do. But they are definitely on the go, these kids.”
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“I want the boys to have life experiences they didn’t have [in foster care],” adds Shannon, who chronicles the boys’ adventures on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. ”If you get to know them, you just fall in love with them. They don’t judge anybody on anything. They are so kind.”
The boys often spend evenings and weekends with the couple’s four adult biological children — and three grandchildren — and travel to the college wrestling matches of their youngest son, Cody, 22.
“It’s very busy,” Troy shares. “[The boys] make life exciting and bring a lot of joy. We just want to help them and give them a place to call their home.”
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