B y Jaime Thomas
Father’s Day can mean a lot to a man. But for Bill Walker, this Sunday marks his first as a father to not one, but four, new daughters.
He and his wife, Nickie, both of whom are in their early thirties, adopted three of his nieces this past Christmas Eve, and he adopted Nickie’s 8-year-old daughter Natalie in March. Now the family of six, which “grew tremendously overnight,” as Nickie puts it, is settled in Granville and seems as natural as could be.
Bill said he and Nickie, who married in June of 2010, wanted to have kids but couldn’t. They were interested in foster care, and his nieces, 10-year-old Deonna, 9-year-old Kyia and 7-year-old Isabel, were in need of a good home.
“They were lucky if they got two meals a day,” Bill said of the girls, and Nickie added that they’d missed 45 days of school and one of them hadn’t been to pre-kindergarten. So after extensive foster care classes and background checks, the couple took the girls home on June 7, 2011, making last Friday the family’s two-year anniversary, Bill pointed out.
His affection for his daughters is obvious, and the family appeared happy to be together last week, squeezing together on two couches and emanating a sense of a good rapport.
“He was meant to do it—he was meant to be a dad. He’s loving, caring and understanding. He’d give his shirt off his back for the girls. Even when they were in foster care, he treated them just like his own kids,” Nickie said, adding that they hadn’t even been married a year when they took in the girls.
“He’s an amazing father; he dedicates everything to the girls and me. He works, he coaches Little League—he’s an awesome dad,” she said, as a few of the girls piped in their agreement.
And while many would at least think twice about taking on three children, Bill modestly indicates it was a natural, easy decision.
“It was a change and it’s a lot more to deal with, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” he said. He doesn’t paint himself as a hero for what he’s done; rather, he expresses his love for his family.
“They’re amazing kids; they’re very smart. The things they saw and went through, they shouldn’t have had to,” he said. “I see my perks every day. One of my favorite things is hearing them sing.” And he’s not just doing the bare minimum as a father—he wants to provide a solid home for the girls.
“It was just my mom who raised me. I can’t remember her ever doing homework with us or getting us to do sports. I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to try things, like one new food every time we go out to eat,” he said.
Nickie and Bill both experienced many moves throughout their childhoods and said they came from less-than-ideal situations.
“I want them to have a stable place to stay; I want the girls to have a permanent house,” Bill said.
Nickie said the situation was somewhat tough for the girls when were making regular visits to their biological parents in Plattsburgh, but now they’re quite happy living in Granville.
Though the Walkers appear comfortable and at ease, Nickie said finances can be tough, and the family is busy.
“I feel bad for Bill because his truck has been running on its last leg for five years, but we’ve been putting everything into the kids,” she said. The Walkers spend time relaxing on the weekends and also go to family counseling in order to maintain stability.
“As long as you have structure and boundaries and balance, it works,” she said.
For Father’s Day, the Walkers will host their “extended” family, which consists of the girls’ 3-year-old twin siblings and their adopted family, from Plattsburgh for a cookout.
“We’re just a normal family,” Bill said. “Well, we’re trying to be,” Nickie added with a laugh.