Somehow, Buck and Stephanie Baskin make messy look good.
They live in a quiet, Mesquite, Texas, neighborhood. But the quiet ends at the door. Inside, their growing family of adopted children are all hustle-and-bustle.
When Buck opens the door for visitors, he is holding 9-month-old Selah in his hands. Behind him, the chipper and excited voice of 3-year-old James is loud and clear.
Buck and Stephanie have been doing foster care for four years.
“Scripture is very clear about it,” Stephanie said. “Everyone has to help somehow. The idea of kids not having a home didn’t settle well.”
James manages to get beside visitors very quickly, clamoring for our attention.
James is rambunctious, talkative, inquisitive and friendly. When asked what he likes to do, he responds, “Be loud!”
“He’s all boy,” Buck said about his son. “He likes anything that rolls or bounces, and he can turn anything into an instrument. He can watch anything a couple of times and figure out how to do it.”
By this time, Niki has ventured from her mother’s side, but still hangs back a little.
Though slightly younger than James, she was placed in the Baskin home first in May 2013. James joined her two weeks later. While Buck and Stephanie previously only did foster care, with Niki and James, they were open to adoption.
“When we first got in, we learned that 60 percent of the kids went back home to their parents, and we realized that the goal is actually to get the families back together. So we made that our goal,” Buck says. “But the big thing is being open to the process because we also realized that once that doesn’t happen, you’re kind of the last option in a way whether those kids may or may not be in the system for a while. So we realized we need to be open to the idea of adoption as well.”
Niki is more hesitant than her brother, but when she smiles, it lights up her face. And her cheerful giggle drifts through the room.
After the Baskins adopted Niki in November 2013 and James in May 2014, they thought they might continue to do foster care, but then Stephanie found out she was pregnant and decided to take a temporary break and focus on their family.
Selah is unmoved by the busyness of the room. She hardly utters a sound and lets her siblings squish her with hugs and kisses.
“She’s the most laid back, gentle spirit,” Stephanie said. “She doesn’t get a chance to talk, as you can see. She doesn’t mind them being in her face all the time. This loudness doesn’t bother her. She just rolls with it.”
This is the new normal for Buck and Stephanie Baskin — full of tickle monsters and musical jam sessions. It has marathon sessions of playing “Hungry, Hungry Hippos.” They watch the pet turtle swim in his aquarium, and they laugh with each other.
“We’re a mess,” Stephanie said with a laugh. “We’re never on time, and I’ve learned that’s OK. And nothing’s ever clean, and that’s OK too.”
Looking at the Baskins, messy looks pretty good.