He’s legally ours: How love affected a neglected child and caused the adoption of a 48-year-old man

Published 12:45 pm Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tim Bowers, 48, of Crab Orchard, was born Timmy Carl Bowers in April 1969.

On Feb. 22, 2018, he officially became Timothy Devrick Bowers, and is now the legally adopted son of Ron and June Devrick of Danville.

The Devricks adopted a son whom they love very, very much on Thursday afternoon. And he’s been part of their family for years.

Now at age 48 — soon to be 49 — and the grandfather of two, Tim Bowers is proud to be legally adopted and officially a Devrick.

Tim and the Devricks come from Point Pleasant, a small historic river town in West Virginia where the Kanawha and Ohio rivers meet. But initially, they were very far apart.

In 1984, June and Ron were raising their children, Jill and Aaron, in a cozy, three-bedroom, one-bath cottage. Ron worked as a corporate controller and June was a cook at the local junior high school.

The same year, Tim was 14 and in the eighth grade at the school where June worked. He was essentially raising himself — his mother was a drug addict and had been neglecting her eight children for a long time, Tim said. He didn’t know who his father was.

When she headed into work in the mornings, June sometimes saw Tim on a bench near the school. She had heard about him because Tim was a talented athlete who all the coaches knew.

During school lunches, a basketball coach sometimes described Tim’s life and situation to her. One day, she told the coach to let Tim know he could go home with her when he needed to.

A couple of days later he did, June said.

“I just brought him home, and he’s been a part of our family ever since.”

Jill and Aaron Devrick with Tim Bowers, at right, soon after he joined the family in the mid 1980s in Point Pleasant, West Virginia pose for a family photo. (Photo contributed)

June’s husband Ron said there was no discussion about it. “We just knew he was a kid in need.”

Jill and Aaron were about 16 and 12 at the time and their parents made it clear that by having another teenager living with them, extra things they may have wanted would have to be given up. He needed a coat and shoes just like they did, June said.

But Jill and Aaron didn’t care about what they may have to sacrifice. They wanted Tim to stay too. They were also aware of his family’s reputation and situation at home. June said Tim’s mom didn’t care where he was, just as long as she kept receiving a government welfare check.

On his second night sleeping in the Devericks’ home, June said the 6-foot-tall teen sat in her lap and cried.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Tim told her. “There’s nobody to love me,” June remembered him saying.

That’s when June said she fell in love with Tim, and knew he would be a part of their family for the rest of their lives.

The family 

Tim quickly blended in with the Devrick family. Years passed without any legal action being taken. It didn’t seem important at the time, Ron said. Tim’s mom never tried to get him back.

Tim graduated high school and attended college for two years on a football scholarship, where he was also offered an academic scholarship, before joining the Marine Corps.

The company Ron worked for was bought and sold several times, and he was transferred to other states; he and June continued building their careers. Their two biological children went to college and eventually moved too — their daughter to Maryland and their son to California.

Work brought Ron and June to Danville several years ago, where they decided to stay after retirement. Eventually, Tim and his wife Kathy chose to move to Danville, too — they took up the Devricks’ offer to come and live with them. Tim and Kathy were helping their son pursue his dream of being a national arena motocross champion.

Since Tim and his family moved to Danville, the family bond has only strengthened. Ron said the relationship is a two-way street. 

“He’s always there for us just like we are for him,” Ron said. Helping to do things like a build a deck for their home, “He shows his love like we showed him … He is a son.”

June said because Tim is an adult with his own life to live, a wife, two adult children and even two grandchildren, legally adopting now him didn’t seem like an issue.

However, she and Ron found out otherwise.

It was their daughter Jill who recently brought up adoption. She said it was important to have everything in black and white. June said her daughter told them Tim was their brother and her parents’ son, and it was important to have everything in writing. 

After Judge Bruce Petrie signed the adoption papers Thursday afternoon, Jill, left, and Aaron Devrick, right, get a hug from their “official” brother, Tim Bowers. (Photo by Robin Hart)

They found out it was also important to Tim.

Now, he’ll know for sure that he is loved and is a part of the family, Ron said.

Tim’s recently been reflecting on his life and how he was cared for by June and Ron. “It means a lot to have a family to count on. You need stability to explore and be successful.”

Ron and June have been his foundation over the years and the official adoption paper solidifies their bond. Even as an adult, Tim said it was comforting to know that his family “has my back.”

The adoption “puts a stamp on it,” Tim said.

Ron chuckled and said, “He’s stuck with us now.”

Early life

Before Tim met June and Ron, he said “my family life was horrible.”

Tim was a natural athlete, and involved in sports — basketball, football and track. This kept him busy so he could avoid going home as much as possible. Competing in sports also honed his mind. 

There were practices, away meets and games, meals and more practices.

Tim recalled after evening basketball practices, many times his step dad didn’t pick him up — or was drunk when he did. The ride home was 30 miles long, and horrific.

Many times he was stranded after dark on the bench outside of school. After a while, “you realize probably nobody is going to get you.”

On those lonely nights, a friendly janitor at the junior high school opened the building and let him stay overnight in the audio/visual classroom. Tim scooted chairs around and pulled tables together to sleep on during the nights he was abandoned.

“In the morning, when I heard people stirring in the building, I would get up and blend in like I was normal.”

June said Tim’s mom had her children taken away several times when Tim was little. “Once they smelled like beer at school because they were using it on their cereal because there wasn’t any milk in the house,” June said.

A couple of Tim’s sisters married at age 13 or 14, Ron said, just so they could get out of the bad situation at home. When Tim came to live with them, the only possessions he had were a broken boom box and the clothes on his back — clothes he had picked out of the lost and found box or from laying around the gym or locker room. 

“Anything he could find,” June said.

The boom box had been a Christmas gift from Tim’s mom. She got money to buy her kids gifts, but a day later she gathered up all the presents and returned them for money to buy drugs. Tim wrestled the boom box away from her — it was broken in the scuffle. 

His mom had even stolen his money while he slept, that he made working to clear overgrown brush off a hillside. He saved it to buy shoes with. She used it for drugs, he said. 

Tim said he is thankful his grumpy, old, rough basketball coach cared about him “and told June about my crappy life.”

Tim went with June to live with her family in late February or early March nearly 34 years ago. “We made room for him,” Ron said.

Since they didn’t have an extra bedroom for Tim, they converted their basement. “It was better than sleeping in a ditch,” June said.

It was also close to Easter when Tim joined the family. So when they took Jill and Aaron to buy new Easter outfits, they included Tim. “Tim was amazed we bought him clothes,” June said.

He was a broken child, Ron said, and felt undeserving of the love and care the family offered him.

“It’s hard to imagine the abuse … from emotional, mental neglect,” Ron said. Abuse “comes in all forms,” he said. 

Yet despite his difficult childhood, “Tim was intelligent and articulate. He made good grades in school and knew right from wrong,” Ron said

June said the legal adoption is just a piece of paper, but “he needs to know he has family … He has been and will always be a part of our family.” 

“I want to do right by him all the way,” Ron said.

Tim’s outlook

Tim experienced severe childhood neglect for years before meeting the Devericks. He speaks with experience when he says he knows some kids fall through the cracks in the child welfare system — he was one of them. 

He also wonders what would have happened to him without the love and support the Devericks unselfishly gave him so many years ago.

Tim tried to explain what it’s like being the victim of an abusive or neglectful situation. He said it’s like floating in the middle of the ocean, clinging to a clump of garbage — a nasty, smelly, mess covered with flies — but you can’t let go or you’ll sink, you’ll get lost. 

Tim grew up thinking, “This is what life is,” and said that’s what children in situations like these grow up thinking a normal life is like. 

“But when you go to school and see your friends and other people, you realize that’s not how to treat each other.”

But you have to have the courage to let go, he said. “There’s land, a beach somewhere.” Tim feels adults also have to have the courage to reach out and pull a child out of the pile of garbage.

He said some kids don’t want to leave an abusive home because they are scared of the unknown. Sometimes they stay because they have siblings to protect, Tim said. 

But “You can get out to safety, then you can go back and get them.”

He credits Ron and June’s commitment to him for being able to go out into the world with a strong foundation on which to build his life.

Tim said the best thing he decided to do was to cut his original family out of his life completely. He will never go back.

“They try to pull you back and make you feel guilty and stuff,” but he won’t return to them — ever, he said.

He is very thankful the Devricks saved him.

Adult years

Tim attended two years at Salem College in West Virginia before dropping out to support his unexpected baby and new wife. “I knew I had to do the right thing” and get a stable job, he said. He knew there’d be no more college and no more football.

Tim joined the Marines and fought in Desert Storm. Soon after, he and his wife Kathy had two little ones to support. So when he got out of the service, he became a body guard for and traveled with the band Guns and Roses.

When his son and daughter were about 3 and 4 years old, Tim knew he had to make another choice — stay and “be ‘famous me’ or devote my life to my family.”

He chose family.

He and Kathy have been married for 28 years. Tim said Kathy was the one for him. She had a great childhood, good upbringing and a strong sense of family. They now live in Crab Orchard, where he is owner of Big T’s garage and specializes in restoring vintage trucks and hot rods. Kathy is the on-site manager for Nesco at Hitachi in Harrodsburg.

The couple home-schooled their children, Tyler and Chelcy, because during the school year, they all traveled in an RV, taking their son to motorbike races across the country. He said they were always together. 

Chelcy graduated from Eastern Kentucky University two years ago and is raising her family. Tyler is a professional racer and five-time national Arenacross champion. Tim said their children have grown into beautiful human beings and beautiful people who now have babies of their own.

Now that their children are on their own and have moved away to  California and Florida, Tim said, “Man we just miss them.”

‘Congratulations! It’s a man’

After completing the adoption process naming Tim Bowers as the legally adopted son of June and Ron Devrick, Family Court Judge Bruce Petrie says, “Congratulations, it’s a man!” (Photo by Robin Hart)

In the third-floor hallway of the Boyle County Courthouse, while waiting for family court to begin Thursday afternoon, eight adults chatted as two little girls dressed in matching pink dresses happily visited with everyone, sometimes asking to be held. A courthouse employee commented it was sweet to see happy adoptions — assuming the girls were being placed in a permanent loving home.

Actually, it was the tall, bearded man wearing a blue plaid shirt who was being adopted.

While waiting to be called into court, Tim and his soon-to-be legal brother and sister reminisced about being teenagers under the same roof.

Jill and Aaron agreed they got along, but had a few bumps along the way, like all teenagers do.

“We figured out a way,” Aaron said, like having multiple copies of the same albums. “I think we had two Bon Jovi and three Def Leppard albums” Aaron recalled — they were two of the teenagers’ favorite bands, so having more than one copy let them play the music whenever they wanted to without conflict.

Ron said, “They were all in it together.”

While waiting in the hallway, Koneda Devrick, Ron’s sister who still lives in West Virginia, said “I got this phone call. It’s a boy!” when they shared the good news with her about adopting Tim.

Watching the adoption of Tim Bowers, are his wife, Kathy, at left, aunt Koneda Devrick of West Virginia and sister, Jill Devrick, from Maryland. (Photo by Robin Hart)

With a big smile and twinkling eyes, Jill said on Jan. 29 of this year, she and Aaron found out it was possible for their parents to officially adopt Tim, even though he is an adult. They’ve been brothers and sister for 33 years, so we might as well make it official. When we said it, we meant it.”

When it was time, the family quietly filed in and took their seats in the back of the small courtroom. June, Tim and Ron stood solemnly with their attorney, Norrie Clevenger Currens before Family Court Judge Bruce Petrie. Formal questions were asked and answered. 

Second from left and right Ron and June Devrick, and their son, Tim Bowers, listen to formal questions asked by their attorney, Norrie Clevenger Currens in during the adoption procedure Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Robin Hart)

Tim agreed he wanted his name changed from Timmy Carl Bowers to Timothy Devrick Bowers and papers were signed. Judge Petrie looked up and told the family usually at the end of an adoption process he congratulates the family by saying, “Congratulations, it’s a boy.” 

However in this circumstance he was saying, “Congratulations, it’s a man!”

The Tim Bowers family who were able to attend the formal adoption process Thursday afternoon include: front row, nieces, Cordelia and Penelope Devrick. Back row, brother and sister Aaron and Jill Devrick, aunt Koneda Devrick, mom, June Devrick, Tim Bowers, dad, Ron Devrick, wife, Kathy Devrick and cousin, Olyvia Blaine. (Photo by Robin Hart)