South Mississippian Cherishes Role Of Mother To Five

Saturday is National Adoption Day. It's a collective national effort to raise awareness of the 114,000 children in foster care who are waiting to find permanent loving families.

One South Mississippi has taken five young people under her wing.

"My ability to have children was taken away the first part of 1971, so I knew as a young woman I would never be able to have a baby," Shirley Neighbors says.

But Shirley Neighbors would become a mother one day. At 56 years of age, she's raising four adopted children and one foster child.

"Four teenagers and a boy that's going to be 11, so I always say I have five adolescents in my house at one time, by myself single. I started out being crazy, so I'm real off. I'm real off," she laughs.

Friend Alma Jones-Lewis says Shirley has always been a natural caretaker even before she became an adoptive mother.

"She went through the pregnancy with me so close, that it was as though she was pregnant. My son is a lot closer to her than he is to me," Jones-Lewis says.

While keeping the household in check, may have its challenges, Neighbors says her decision to adopt was an easy one.

"I just felt like I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be needed, and nothing loves your or needs you like a little baby. Now at the ages they are now, I'm not their favorite people, but you'd play hell trying to keep them away from me," Neighbors says.