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2003: Finding her special Joey

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 9, 2009 at 11:02 pm •  Published: May 10, 2008

Joey's mom always made sure he had two birthdays.

Oct. 8, the day Joey arrived on Earth, and Feb. 14, the day he arrived in June's family, by judge's decree.

Doctors told June she'd never get pregnant. So June and Richard prayed for a child, and in 1957 adoption brought them Joey.

"This gorgeous, gorgeous baby was mine," June said. "He's always been very, very special."

She never hid the adoption from Joey. While other kids in the neighborhood were adopted and didn't know it, Joey knew it and celebrated it.

"She made sure I knew what a blessing I was to them, how much they loved me," Joey says today. "She made sure I understood what it was all about."

And soon enough, Joey repaid the gift of family that June and Richard provided.

A year or so after Joey's arrival, June gave birth to Ann, and then Rick came along, too. Those doctors' diagnosis? "As God's blessings usually occur, they found out otherwise," Joey said.

June credits Joey. To take care of her new baby, June quit working as an operating-room nurse. Doctors figure her stress went down, her medical condition improved and pregnancy became possible.

So June raised her kids in Fort Lauderdale the way she had been raised on the outskirts of Evansville, Ind., where 10 kids piled into the two-bedroom house during the Depression and World War II.

"She understood the importance of the little things in life that helped make our family very, very special," Joey said.

June came by it honest. "My mother was very loving, taking in neighbors, sharing food," June said. "Grow up that way, it's a normal way of thinking."

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