The Meaning of Family


Texas Baptist Children’s Home is where Nicole Mullins learned the meaning of family. It’s been nearly two decades since she left, but it’s a lesson that remains close to her heart.

“Living at TBCH taught me that there were people who actually cared for me,” she said, “and I learned to appreciate my family more.”

Nicole really didn’t have anywhere to go when she arrived on the Round Rock campus in the mid-1990s as an angry fifth grader. She and her three older brothers had been placed for adoption by their mother and Nicole didn’t handle it well, so her adoptive parents sought a better environment for her.

“We were in foster care first, where I could still see my mother,” she recalled. “We were adopted when I was 7 and I no longer got to see my mother. I got mad. I knew what was happening, but not why. My new mother and I didn’t get along because I thought she was trying to replace my biological mother. My tantrums were out of control.”

Nicole lived at TBCH for nearly three years before returning to her adoptive family, people who today she considers her true parents. Her early days on campus were filled with uncertainty and insecurity.

“I had been taken from my real family when I was adopted and now it felt like the process was happening again,” she said. “I was a little scared. I was in an all-girls cottage, everything was family-oriented, I jumped into a new school, and everything was totally different. I just had to adapt to it.”

Gradually, Nicole became more comfortable, thanks to her house parents, the campus youth minister and sports.

“I really started feeling comfortable and being myself when I noticed the house parents [the Jacksons] really, actually cared and had time for me,” she said. “I was a problem child, but I grew to love everyone in the cottage.”

TBCH Executive Director Keith Dyer, who was then the Minister of Youth & Recreation,, remembers “Nikki” as a good-natured, happy-go-lucky kid and a great athlete. She was the only elementary school student on the TBCH co-ed softball team and she loved to hang out at the campus recreation center.

From a perspective of almost two decades, Nicole has many fond memories of her time as a TBCH resident.

“Everywhere there was sports,” she said. “I remember being the candy striper in the Christmas play one year, the ceramics classes, church services at the chapel with Mr. Dyer, when they built the gazebo on campus, choir practice. It was the best experience I had a child.”

Nicole also remembers a trip to a Billy Graham crusade in Dallas when she gave her life to Christ.

“Texas Baptist Children’s Home really changed my life for the better,” she said. “I appreciate each and every one who touched my life.”

Today Nicole is a college graduate with a degree in job development and business. She’s the single mother of 6-year-old Taryn, trying to be the best mother she knows how to be, working as a real estate professional and planning to get her license this summer. Her long-term goal is to have her own real estate firm.

With the advantage of hindsight, she has a message for children living at the Children’s Home today.

“I would like to be a testimony to the kids, to let them know that this is just a chapter in their lives,” she said. “They may not see it now, but things will turn around if they let it. God will see you through.”