Monthly Archives: November 2013

Knit together by birth and adoption

Guest post by Holly Lowmiller, a mother of adoptive and biological children in Niceville.

The beautiful Lowmiller children

The beautiful Lowmiller children. (Photo courtesy of Neda’s Notions Photography, http://nedasnations.com)

My family’s story starts when I was a single mother of a sweet boy. When my son Zane was 14 months old, I found myself suddenly parenting solo. On April 1, 2007, I married an amazing man named Brian. In addition to my beloved I also scored two wonderful bonus boys, my step-sons Mason and Carson. The Lowmillers were now a blended family of five.

Before Brian and I were married we spoke of the desire to grow our family. We were both very open to adoption so we agreed that is where we would start. I had a very strong desire to adopt from foster care, so we signed up to take the necessary classes to get our adoption home study. Taking those classes opened our eyes to the need for foster families in our community.

After much deliberation, we decided to open our hearts and home to children needing a loving family for perhaps a day, a week or forever. We had several little loves come and go but in November 2009, our Naomi came at 6 months old and stayed forever. We were thrilled to have our sweet daughter join our family.

Two years later we received a call on a Monday morning that Naomi’s birth parents delivered a baby girl the day before. I was asked if we would consider being a forever family for her. I called my husband at work to pose the big question and my amazing husband asked, “Another daughter, a baby sister for Naomi?” He then said, “Yes! Call and tell them yes!”

Two days later I brought Phoebe Violet home from the hospital. Adoption has blessed our family beyond measure!

For more information about adoption and children available for adoption in Florida, visit www.adoptflorida.org or call 1-800-962-3678.

Her last move

Jazmine, 14 year old who was adopted by Kim and Tim today in DCF’s SunCoast Region: 

Jazmine and her family talk with Channel 10 Tampa Bay before she enters the courtroom to be united with her forever family.

Jazmine and her family talk with Channel 10 Tampa Bay before she enters the courtroom to be united with her forever family.

It feels GREAT to finally have a family.  Mr. Tim and Mrs. Kim are nice and kind to me.  I finally have someone who will be there for me, like at my school activities and all.

I didn’t like being in foster care.  I was moved a lot, couldn’t keep friends and was always going to a different school. The hardest part has been other adoptions not working out and being in foster care so long.  I didn’t really trust that this one would work out.

I would encourage other teens to not give up and to keep hoping and dreaming of a forever family.  I hope all of them have a chance to be adopted and have a great family too.

 

 

 

Kim, who adopted Jasmine today:

We have felt for several years a call to adopt.  We don’t really know why, other than God placing that on our hearts.  We have also been called to adopt an older child who has been in foster care for awhile.

I saw Jazmine’s profile on the Pinellas/Pasco Heart Gallery first, and then on the state’s website.  I felt an instant draw to this child, but it would be more than a year later before we were finally able to pursue finding out about her.  There were challenges since she was out of our county.  We had a private adoption home study done through Adoption Home Study Services.  As soon as this was completed we forwarded to the adoption specialist at Eckerd.

We were very nervous the first time we met her.  The case manager had warned us she was a little jaded towards adoption and so we kind of did a “blind” meeting.  Jazmine did look like a deer in the headlights when she spotted us with her case manager.  She chose to ignore us at the beginning.  About mid-way through the visit she started warming up to us and even allowed my husband to hold her Chuck E. Cheese tokens while she played a game.   By the end of the visit she was interacting with us, but still a little guarded.  On the way home we were still nervous –what if she thinks we’re too old, what if she refuses to see us again, what if she doesn’t like us?  We knew in our hearts she was our daughter and we were hoping and praying she would feel the same way eventually.

On the second visit she was excited to see us and jumped from the car with colored pictures for us and her Heart Gallery pictures!  Priceless!!

Jazmine chatting with her Guardian ad Litem Paige Cable after her adoption was finalized.

Jazmine chatting with her Guardian ad Litem Paige Cable after her adoption was finalized.

At a doctor’s visit, the nurse asked her what she calls me.  Jazmine responded, “Mrs. Kim because the adoption’s not final yet.”  It really caught my attention and I said, “So that’s what you’re waiting on,” and she responded simply, “Yes!”  I knew I would do what I could to make this child understand unconditional love, safety and security.  It also gave me a better idea as to why she acted a little weird when people she was very familiar with, like her case manager and therapist, came to visit in our home.  She was so used to people coming and removing her that she had that continual fear that was the reason they were coming now.  I then began telling her before they came the reason for the visit and assuring her no one was coming to move her anywhere else.  I also told her she experienced her last move when she came to live with us and any future moves would be her decisions when she got older to live on her own or go to college.

We feel so honored to be Jazmine’s parents.  We have typical teen behavior but she is responding very well to structure and consistency.  We’re so glad she accepted us as her parents and forever family.

For more information about adoption and children available for adoption in Florida, visit www.adoptflorida.org or call 1-800-962-3678.

Big Dreams for Joey

Guest post by Carey Thurman, who today during Pinellas County National Adoption Celebration adopted a two-year-old foster child with Spina Bifida.

Thurman Family (Joey sitting on Carey's lap).

Thurman Family (Joey sitting on Carey’s lap).

Our first medical foster child was a little girl with Spina Bifida. So when SunCoast Center Inc. called us about Joey, an almost 1-month-old boy with the same condition, we were excited to take him in as a foster child. When I arrived at the hospital he weighed only 6 lbs, his legs would not lay down flat and were permanently fixed straight in the air. One of his club feet was so bad it was almost C-shaped, and this was only a couple of the problems this precious little boy suffered from since his birth. His bottom was bleeding from having constant bowl movements caused by his condition; his legs were just skin and bone … no fat or muscle. The doctor told us he would most likely break his legs within the first two years of his young life. It broke our hearts knowing he had spent the early weeks of his life getting surgery to close his back. And the worst part, he had no family there for him, he was all alone.

We were determined to make that up to him. Since that time, he has been through five more surgeries, but thankfully from that point on, my husband Mike or I have always been able to be by his side to comfort him and give him our full support. We have showered him with love and we couldn’t possibly put into words the joy he brings our family. We thought our family was complete, but then Joey stole our hearts.

We believed we were done adopting since we had adopted three children and had two of our own already. And the fact that we are both in our 40s was a bit intimidating; our youngest is already 11. But as we started meeting families as part of the process to find Joey an adoptive family we were struggling with the decision we were about to make. The week before they were to have the final match meetings and make a choice, Mike and I went to dinner together and started talking and came to the conclusion that we wanted to adopt Joey. We simply couldn’t let him go. Needless to say, the kids were very excited that we would be adding Joey to our forever family.  We know he is going to do amazing things and we want to be a part of that and be there for him.

Joey fist bumping with the Tampa Bay Lightening Mascot during Pinellas County Adoption Ceremony celebration.

Joey fist bumping with the Tampa Bay Lightening Mascot during Pinellas County Adoption Ceremony celebration.

He has made leaps and bounds since the day I picked him up from the hospital. He is now at a normal weight, has chubby legs and his legs no longer stick out. He crawls and scoots to get around and he is a wiz with his wheelchair, we call it his “zroom zroom.” He is all boy and loves to play with his trains and cars. He has a sense of humor and loves to make us laugh.

Our home has all kinds of equipment. A stepping platform sits in front of the couch that he uses to come snuggle with us, diaper changing takes more time and has to be done more often, he sometimes uses a wheelchair, he has therapists in the home and many different specialists. He will most likely have more surgeries and we don’t know how well he will walk or for how long. But at the end of the day he is Joey, the little boy who points out every truck, car, and school bus everywhere we drive, throws 2-year-old tantrums when he doesn’t get his way and gives the best snuggles. His giggles melt our hearts. When we look at him we see our little boy who we have big dreams for, not a handicapped child.

At his last court hearing the judge thanked us for stepping up and adopting him. We are the ones that are thankful to have the honor of being his dad, mom, sister and brother. The reward involved with our decision has surpassed anything we could have ever imagined possible. And we are truly thankful to our church and friends, as well as family members who have and continue to support us.

It is astounding the limitless boundaries to which children with medical conditions can gain by simply living in a home where they receive unfailing love and attention from parents and siblings. Adoptive parents can be taught to take care of their medical needs and with time they become routine. These wonderful children need parents that are willing to love them and see their full potential.

For more information about adoption and children available for adoption in Florida, visit www.adoptflorida.org or call 1-800-962-3678.

Growing families

Guest post by First Lady Ann Scott.

First-Lady-Official-Photo1The Governor and I have been so honored to travel the state and meet with families from all over Florida.  During my travels, I have been privileged to visit schools and share my passion for reading with students. These visits always remind me about raising my own children. When asked my greatest accomplishment in life, there is never a doubt in my mind that the answer is working with Rick to raise our two daughters and provide them with a loving and supportive family.

Over the past few months, the Governor and I have been blessed to see our daughters begin families of their own. In early August, our daughter Allison and her husband Pierre welcomed our second grandson, Quinton. Then in September, our daughter Jordan and son-in-law Jeremy welcomed their first child and our third grandson, Sebastian. Both of these new additions are so precious. As our daughters raise children of their own, we are reminded of what a blessing an encouraging and caring family can be. Every child deserves to know this kind of love and support.

Since January 2011, Florida has finalized adoptions for more than 8,400 foster children. My heart is touched by the compassion shown by our state over the last three years. However, there are still approximately 750 children without an identified family available for adoption from foster care in Florida.

November is National Adoption Month and by visiting Explore Adoption at www.adoptflorida.org or calling 1-800-96-ADOPT, you can meet Florida’s foster children hoping to find a family of their own. As the holidays approach, I encourage you to consider if you, or someone you know, could open your hearts and homes to one of these children, and help them find a forever family.

Anything can be

Guest post by Kimberly Golden, a parent of two biological children and one adoptive son in North Florida.

family

The Golden family

Two years ago my family finalized the adoption of our now 20-year-old son, Terry.

We were not a foster family. We had never fostered children before, never taken a class, never even considered fostering or adopting a child into our family, let alone an 18-year-old!  We truly thought our  family was complete just the way it was with our little brick house, two kids, three dogs and a partridge in a pear tree.  But it was at the cusp of this decision that I realized … LIFE BEGINS AT THE END OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE!

I am an Educational Consultant with a children’s book company where I did a charity book fair at a local vacation resort.  The resort selected Anchorage Children’s Home as the recipient of the free books from the fair.  I went to meet with the staff at the facility to discuss their needs to place the book order and during my meeting the Administrative Assistant had been telling me about this kid who had lived there off and on for many years and was pretty much a permanent fixture at the group home called Hidle House, a place I’d never heard of.  She told me how he was 17 and applying for a job at Sonic and how he practiced his roller skating on the basketball court every day, just in case he got the job. She told me how his Guardian ad Litem had just helped him purchase a bicycle so he can ride it to and from work (that bicycle sits in my garage as we speak and we still use it to take family rides around the neighborhood!).

Then she told me something I would never, ever forget. She told me he was about to age out of foster care and would be put out into the world … alone. Those words stung.

Terry

Terry

My colleague and I took our tour of the facility and I saw his room, all neat and clean, positive and encouraging words posted on his door in his handwriting.  (Boy was the wool pulled over my eyes! You should see his room now! But I digress.)

As the tour was wrapping up, a counselor came through with this kid, smiling from ear to ear, who was well-spoken and friendly. This boy told us he was heading out to do Meals on Wheels with the counselor.  Told us he had been there for a long time and enjoyed his outings.  I only spoke to him briefly, probably 30 seconds or less, but it may as well have been a lifetime.  I was IN LOVE WITH THIS KID!

I left the building and burst into tears.  I had left my heart with this child. I called my husband from my car and we briefly spoke about his situation.  Later that night at the dinner table we discussed in detail Terry’s options, which were limited and not very appealing.

After a short discussion my husband said, “Well, who do we call?”  I immediately sent an email to Hidle House. We met Terry in July, had several  weekly visits and weekend visits,  he moved into our home in September and we formally adopted him in November.

I’ll never forget the day Pauline brought him to my house to officially move in.  I was terrified.  I was NERVOUS!  What about my kids? What if he runs away? What if … what if … what if …

Son and mother!

Son and mother!

The challenges came early on as Terry was testing us at every turn. He wanted to prove to us that we would not adopt him, that we were not faithful to our word.  That we were just like every other person he had ever dealt with.  That our promises were empty.  And given his history, being in foster care since he was age 10, who could blame him? To the final hour he was testing us, but we didn’t judge him by his past; he didn’t live there anymore.  He lived with us, in our home with a fresh, new start.  And I knew even in the darkest hour, after all it was only 60 minutes, this too shall pass.  And you know what?  It did!  Terry’s adoption was finalized on November 2, 2011.

Terry and I had our share of butting heads.  Were there growing pains?  Absolutely!  Was it easy?  Certainly NOT!  Would I do it all over again?  YOU BETCHA!  In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. With every challenge came the chance to reach him.

We spent a year in therapy. A therapist came to our home and sat in our living room.  Terry and I sat side by side, hour after hour, week after week until he learned to trust and  he started to believe that HE was worthy of love.  It took time and patience ON BOTH OUR PARTS.  I did a lot of forgiving, but you know what?  SO … DID … HE! We are all a little broken, and that’s okay.

I went from being the mother of a 9 year old and 4 year old to jumping into a pot of boiling water with a 17 year old, and not just any 17 year old, a teenager no one else wanted; one who came with baggage.  But I loved him enough to help him unpack it piece by piece.

I have been blessed with an AMAZING kid.  One who loves unconditionally, who would jump into a lake of fire for me. One who lives to please, one who gives with his whole heart.

The Golden family

The Golden family

And please don’t misunderstand; he’s not perfect. He’s still a kid who screws up and does stupid kid stuff – the kind of stuff WE ALL DID!  But I’m so glad he does, it’s what he’s supposed to be doing!  Let’s face it, kids screw up.  And our jobs as parents are to CORRECT THEM, FORGIVE THEM, ACCEPT THEM and LOVE THEM!

Our family just made the trip out to San Antonio, Texas where we attended Terry’s graduation from Basic Military Training from the United States Air Force.  I am so proud of the man he has become.  He has overcome obstacles and beaten statistics and proven that he is a survivor. But even more, he has shown that EVERYONE IS WORTHY OF LOVE and that HE is WORTHY OF LOVE and that all of the trials he went through paid off for him.

In the words of Shel Silverstein …

Listen to the mustn’ts child,

Listen to the don’ts.

Listen to the shouldn’ts,

the impossibles

The won’ts.

Listen to the never- haves…

Then listen close to me.

Anything can happen child….

Anything can be.

 

For more information about adoption and children available for adoption in Florida, visit www.adoptflorida.org or call 1-800-962-3678.