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Mom' to many

*Allen came to the Hudgins' home when he was 11 years old. No matter the problems Allen had, the Hudgins wanted to make sure they gave him a good life for as long as he wanted to be with the family.

"Once they're in our house, they're our children," she said. "We're devoted no matter what."

Hudgins said she sees Allen as special because he stayed with the family even after he aged out of the foster program at age 18. He finally felt ready to live on his own when he was 22 years old.

Now in his late 20s, Allen still calls the Hudgins "mom and dad," even after many years of struggling to overcome challenges for a normal family dynamic.

"We had to teach him so many things," she said. "He didn't know how to use a bar of soap and take a bath, and about nutrition."

She remembered the first time she realized his eating habits when she was making liver for dinner.

"I was cleaning it [liver] and seasoning it when he asked me why I was doing all of this," she said. "He said that he was used to eating it raw."

Baffled by the fact that this young boy had eaten something like liver raw made her feel more compassion and a stronger need to turn him around. Hudgins said the environment that children grow up in has such an impact, that Allen was starting over from scratch since he had never had a good example to follow. His nutritional habits were such that he would eat bacon, sausage and eggs all uncooked.

"Even though this happened, he was never ashamed," she said. "And he knows his mom and dad are proud of him."

Allen had other issues like hoarding food because he grew up with the fear that he might not eat the next day. Hudgins said she would make 10 or 12 sweet-potato pies at a time with the intention of freezing most of them.

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