Info, Please!: Insights into Whitney Bates’ Adoption
We don’t have extensive information about Whitney Bates’ adoption, but the Bates Family Blog, as well as archived comments on Wayback Machine and Duggar Data’s Imgur, have shed some light on the matter. Kelly Jo, Whitney’s mother-in-law, has provided most of the available details.
In July 2013, when Gil and Kelly Jo announced the courtship of Zach and Whitney, Kelly mentioned that Whitney was adopted. According to Kelly’s statement, “Whitney was adopted into a family including 11 other siblings. Her parents, Johnny and Lydia Owens, live in Clinton, TN. Her father is a preacher, and her mother is a hair stylist.”
This information is still accessible on the current Bates Family Blog since it was not part of a comment. Duggar Data has identified Johnny Owens as John Richard Owens, Jr. and Lydia Owens as Lydia Faith (Taylor) Owens. They were married in Tennessee on March 6, 1987. They reside in Clinton, Anderson County, Tennessee, which is approximately 7 miles and 15 minutes away from the Bates Family Home.
As Kelly mentioned, Johnny is a preacher, and Lydia is a hair stylist. Duggar Data has found information about Lydia’s workplace, which is Lydia’s Family Haircutters in Olive Springs, TN. However, Duggar Data couldn’t determine the exact church where Johnny preached, although it’s likely a Baptist church since Whitney met the Owens family at church, and she herself identifies as Baptist.
The comments reveal how Whitney came to be adopted by the Owens family. According to Kelly, Whitney was childhood friends with one of the Owens daughters named Laklee Owens. Sadly, Laklee passed away in a car crash at the age of 11 (not 13, as Kelly initially stated). After Laklee’s tragic death, Johnny and Lydia became foster and adoptive parents. When Whitney was “placed into foster care” a few years later at the age of 13, the Owens family took her in. Kelly mentions that “they were awarded custody of Whitney when she was 16.” The phrasing suggests involvement of either the Court or CPS, but it’s unclear whether it was a legal adoption, a foster situation, a guardianship, or another arrangement.
Whitney is the only biological child of Johnny and Lydia Owens. However, as Kelly mentioned, the Owens family had custody of 12 children, including Whitney and 11 other siblings, as of July 17, 2013. The exact composition of the family is unknown, with regards to the number of biological, adopted, or foster children. In September 2013, Kelly later corrected herself, stating that the Owens family had only 10 children. It’s uncertain whether this was a typo or an indication that some of the children were foster children in temporary placements.
Duggar Data has managed to identify some of the Owens children. Several of them participated in Zach and Whitney’s wedding, listed in the program. The wedding party included 1 bridesmaid (Nakota Owens), 3 flower girls (Ella, Bella, Sadie Owens), the ring bearer (Philip Owens), and 1 usher (Brandon Owens). So, at least 6 of the 11 siblings were involved in the wedding. As of 2021, Whitney doesn’t follow any of her adoptive siblings on social media.
Now, let’s address the question of why Whitney ended up in foster care in the first place. Unfortunately, we don’t have concrete information about it. Kelly didn’t provide any details, and Whitney herself has never spoken about it either. All we know is that, for some unknown reason, Whitney seems to blame herself for the situation. It’s incredibly unfair for a child to bear such guilt. In 2018, Whitney shared on Instagram, “One of my biggest regrets in life was decisions I made that led me down a road of loneliness, guilt, and heartache. I didn’t value the amazing parents I had and drove a wedge in our relationship for many years. As I got older and married Zach, I knew in my heart that I needed to make things right with God and my parents. My gracious and Godly parents not only forgave me before either of our children were ever born, they loved me unconditionally. They were there for me at Bradley’s and Kaci’s birth. They’ve been there for me through thick and thin. They are the best parents in the world and two of my very best friends.”
In conclusion, the exact circumstances that led to Whitney entering foster care remain unclear. Whatever transpired, it’s evident that she and her parents were estranged even as late as December 2013, as they did not attend her wedding to Zach.