Written by: Kedrick Nettleton, Staff Writer

When David Joyce arrived on campus at Bartlesville Wesleyan College, he had no idea that he would eventually become the most prolific adoption attorney in Dallas. In fact, he had no idea he’d end up pursuing law at all.

Joyce was born in Texas, but his father worked for Phillips, and the family moved to Bartlesville when he was still a young child. He and his mother attended First Wesleyan Church and became connected with The Wesleyan Church. As a high schooler, Joyce was saved at a Wesleyan youth convention, and BWC was a bit of a foregone conclusion for him after that.

“It seemed like the natural place to go,” he said. “I didn’t really consider anywhere else. It just seemed right.”

At BWC, Joyce’s time on campus was formative. He strengthened his faith, made life-long friendships, and met Sherry, the woman who would eventually become his wife. And though he didn’t yet know what he wanted to do with his life, he became inspired by Dr. Mike Fullingim’s passion for ministry in other cultural contexts. He soon changed his minor to Linguistics.

“My role is very peripheral, but I feel very blessed to be able to have a job like that, where I get to be a part of that happy event for people.”

“He had an enormous impact on me,” Joyce said. “I got a lot of introductions [at OKWU] to missions and cross-cultural ministry and the idea of that.”

This impact was so strong that Joyce’s initial idea after graduation was to pursue a career as a Bible translator with Wycliffe. When that role turned out to be an imperfect fit, he decided on law school, attending Southern Methodist University. Joyce had met a friend’s father who worked as an FBI agent, and he hoped his law degree might help him find a job within the Bureau. At no point during this time, he says, did he have any inkling of working in his eventual career: adoption law.

“I hadn’t thought about it at all,” he said. “Because adoption was so integral to me, it wasn’t ever something I considered… I really didn’t ever find a purpose until I just kind of stumbled on it.”

One day during lunch, a friend asked Joyce a simple question – why wasn’t he doing adoption law? It turned out to be life-changing. Why wasn’t he?

“Kind of an epiphany moment for me,” he said.

Joyce founded a practice, and since then, he’s worked hard to carve out a niche for himself in the Dallas law arena, working almost exclusively as an adoption attorney. Because it’s such a specialized area of law, it’s not something that many could make a complete living on, but the practice is thriving. 

This is partly because Joyce makes it clear that he’s coming at his work from a place of personal passion. 13 of his own siblings are adopted, and he and his wife have adopted four of their five children, too. The story creates an instant bond with clients. In the beginning, most of the networking that Joyce did simply involved getting in a room with people and telling them his story.

It’s a fulfilling career path, and not just for Joyce himself – he’s often told by the judges he works with that the adoptions he represents are the only uplifting parts of their day. “I have this role in creating families,” he said. “My role is very peripheral, but I feel very blessed to be able to have a job like that, where I get to be a part of that happy event for people.”

“I really didn’t ever find a purpose until I just kind of stumbled on it.

It’s not exactly what he thought he’d be doing as a college student at OKWU, but Joyce feels grateful to be where he is now, and he’s thankful for the part OKWU played in his life. “I felt like I was on a certain path when I was clearly on another path, but I know that it was the right path,” he said. “They’re not divergent. What happened at BWC led to where I am now, and I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

And when asked, that’s his advice for others: just be open. “Embrace the uncertainty. Trust that you’re going in the right direction… I got where I was supposed to be almost by providence.”

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