ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – Two people were killed in what authorities are describing as a home invasion. Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputies were called out to a home in the 9,700 block of Mobile Highway around 8:00 p.m. Thursday night. When they arrived, deputies found a man and woman dead in the bedroom of their home in the Beulah community. Both had been shot.
The victims have been identified as Byrd and Melanie Billings. The couple had 16 children, 12 of them were adopted. The Billings were known for helping children with disabilities and troubled backgrounds. Family members say all of the children were at home at the time of the shooting, but they were not hurt.
Deputies say they want to question three men in a red van about the murders.
As you all know, adoption is close to my heart. I’ve seen people go through hell and back in the adoption of their children. Adoption is hard. It is an emotional roller coaster. Whether you’re dealing with infertility, or waiting for a birthmother to choose you to adopt, whether you go through the foster care system, and even more heart-breaking, a contested adoption. But these incredible people, these angels, adopted 12 special needs children (this is not mentioned in the story). One special needs child is an enormous responsibility, but these people adopted 12 of them. Twelve children that are virtually unadoptable. Twelve children that would have probably spent their lives in foster care or in institutions. Instead, they were adopted and given a mom and a dad, and a family. And now these parents are gone. Murdered in their own home. For no reason. My heart breaks for all their children. I hope something happens so that these siblings can all stay together.
Most importantly I want to say that the world needs more people like Byrd and Melanie Billings. They spent their lives helping and parenting children in need. Their lives were spent in selflessness. I wish more people who are interested in adoption would be wiling to adopt an older child or a special needs child. These children need families too. They want what all children want. Someone to love them and to be there for them. Byrd and Melanie did this for 16 children, twelve of them born in their hearts.
God Bless the Billings family.