Childless local becomes parent to parent-less child
Donna Torres Bourgeois had never been a mother, and the 5-year-old she calls “Little Kevin” or “Love Bug” never really had a mother. But the two of them are forging a life together as mother and son.
Bourgeois was 53 years old the first time a child, Kevin, said the word “Mommy” to her a few months ago. “When it happened, I was speechless for a minute,” she said. “And then I cried and cried with happiness.”
She’s raising Kevin after hearing about him through family friends and obtaining custody a year ago when his birth father was incarcerated on drug charges. She spent months traveling to Hammond, where Kevin is from, meeting with social workers and others involved in deciding the boy’s future, and even going to see his father in jail.
Kevin’s birth mother lost custody of him after she and her boyfriend were arrested and later convicted of abusing him when he was a toddler. Bourgeois said that, as a result of the abuse, Kevin went into acute kidney failure and almost died. He ended up with her, she said, just before he was about to enter the foster care system.
“We go and do special things together on the weekends, and he loves going to church,” Bourgeois said. “The two of us have all kinds of plans for the future. You know, baseball and all of those things that little boys love.”
Kevin, a pre-K student, loves school, riding his bike, playing with friends and eating chicken nuggets, which he said he never gets tired of.
Bourgeois, raised primarily by her grandparents, said she knows what it’s like to grow up without parents and dreaming of having a family. She said she wants Kevin to have security, consistency and other things that come with having a loving parent.
“My mother gave me to friends of hers when I was three days old because she didn’t want me,” Bourgeois said.
“My dad hadn’t consented to that, and he was away serving in the Air Force. When he got home a couple of weeks later, he came and got me.”
She said her father knew he couldn’t raise her by himself because he had to be away a lot for work, “but he did the best that he could and he brought me to my grandparents for them to raise me. But I had a relationship with him too. It’s mostly through my grandparents, though, that I got some of the important things I needed in life, including morals, values and unconditional love.”
Her father and grandparents have all died, she said, but she has a close relationship with her stepmother, Margie Torres, who lives in Florida.
“I’m so blessed to have her in my life, and she’s my rock,” she said. “We have an endearing bond and we’re fortunate to have each other.”
Bourgeois said she never met her birth mother, who committed suicide when Bourgeois was 5 years old.
“From what I understand, she was a tortured soul and had many issues. Yes, it’s definitely a sad story, and it’s one that I try not to dwell on too much,” she said.
“I do have a lot of faith, and that’s what has always kept me going. But maybe it’s that I went through so much at different points of my life in order for me to be able to really appreciate and fully embrace all of the joy that I have now.”
After working as a nurse for 16 years, Bourgeois is focused on building a new career in the real estate field, and she’s already having some success. “I’m really loving it,” she said.
“And one of reasons I decided to get into real estate is because my hours are more flexible and I can be there for everything for Kevin as he’s growing up.”
Bourgeois said she can’t imagine life without Kevin, whom she described as “an amazing child, a very loving and precious little boy.”
DeWanna Tarver, a family friend, said, “The first time I saw Kevin and Donna together at church, it was before I knew Kevin’s story, and I remember looking at the two of them and thinking, ‘Well, there’s two people that have it all.’
“I’ve come to realize that it’s Donna who has given him all of his confidence and security. She has given him all of herself, and she has literally changed the course of his life.”
Bourgeois said she knows rearing children isn’t always smooth sailing, but she said she’s prepared for tough days that may come along.
She recalled a recent evening. “Kevin looked at me and said, ‘Mommy, you know what? I’m your angel.’ I looked at him and said, ‘Oh, sweet boy. I’m your angel too,’ ” she said.
“That was a moment that was just pure bliss. I used to dream of having kids and being a mom, but it just never happened for me. And now I am a mother to the sweetest, most loving little boy in the whole world. It’s a dream come true.”
Donna Torres Bourgeois and her son Kevin, 5. (Donna Price / American Press)