Counting their blessings

Published 1:28 pm Saturday, November 24, 2007

By Staff
Man, 77, and wife, 53, are waiting patiently to adopt their fifth child
Managing Editor
Fred Dudley, 77, and his wife Mary, 53, are doing something that people half their ages have to think about twice.
The Dudleys are adopting children. They have adopted four youngsters — three siblings and an unrelated girl — during the past four years. If all goes well, they will adopt a fifth child, an 11-year-old foster child they are caring for at the present time. The oldest of the related children is 17; and the other two children, who are twins, are 13. The girl turns 3 next month.
For Fred Dudley, his decision to adopt goes back to a dream.
Mary remembers the dream, too.
Fred Dudley was born in Chocowinity, but he made a living as a carpenter in New York until he retired in the 1990s. In 1995, he returned to his hometown.
Each of the Dudleys were parents before they married 13 years ago. He fathered eight children, ranging in ages from 34 to 57. She had four children. Their ages range from 23 to 32.
The couple found their five-bedroom, two-bath house was “empty” without the sound of children, so they went from being temporary foster parents to adopting children.
The Beaufort County Department of Social Services used to have an age limit for people wanting to adopt children, but it has been eliminated, according to Catherine Keech, a Department of Social Services coordinator.
Monquie was 13-years-old when she came to live with the Dudleys, and her twin sisters, Euneeka and Eureeka, were 9.
For Mary Dudley, the adopted children literally ease the pain of her chronic muscle fatigue.