Category Archives: Adoption

February is Black History Month

picture of sibling groupFebruary is Black History Month. This month, it is important to take the time to reflect on the contributions of African Americans across the world. As part of this reflection, DCF will recognize 28 amazing African-American children who are available for adoption each day this month at www.adoptflorida.org.

At any given point, there are approximately 800 children who are available for adoption in Florida. Although African Americans make-up only 16 percent of Florida’s population, African-American children make up 39 percent of children in the child welfare system. Research shows that African-American children remain in foster care longer as well. These children all share a common dream – they want to be loved and become a part of a family where they can thrive, trust, and grow up to reach their full potential and accomplish their dreams.

This month, the Department of Children and Families and Explore Adoption will highlight 28 Days of Amazing Children. The campaign showcases one African-American child or sibling group available for adoption every day in February. To see today’s child or biographies and videos for all of the amazing children available for adoption, visit: www.adoptflorida.org.

10 promises to you

Posted by adoptive motherMother with Judge and adoptive son

Dear Son,
As I sit at my desk writing this letter, I realize this is the most difficult, scariest, and most exciting thing I have ever done. I am scared because I don’t know how to write a letter, nor can I write a letter, that assures you that everything will be okay. I am not going to pretend that our lives will suddenly become easy when the adoption is finalized. Nor can I tell you that your fears and self-doubts will suddenly go away. I can guarantee that we will continue to have our ups and downs as we discover new things and learn to be a family. I do know that I love watching you grow and adapt to your new world. I am so happy because I know that even during difficult times we will always be a family, because you are my special gift from God! My angel boy! I have chosen to spend my life with you because I love you!!! I cannot imagine my life without you in it. No matter what happens… you get to stay! You are a part of me. You are my son and I love you more than the waves are in the sea. I have not only built a home for you but I have prepared a place in my home, my heart, and my life for you! I am your mommy and here are my promises to you.

My 10 promises to you:
1. I promise to always love you.
2. To have fun with you!!!
3. To admit when I am wrong…and you know there are times that I am wrong.
4. To respect you!
5. To trust you!
6. To give you freedom, space and the time you need to come to terms with your worries!
7. To worry about you and pray for you always.
8. To forgive you!!
9. To help you find your dreams and let you live them!
10. To be here for you…ALWAYS!!!!

What I expect from you:
1. To be a kid!
2. To always try your best….even when it’s hard and you don’t want to!
3. To let me help you…even when it’s hard and you are afraid to trust!
4. To not give up…even when it’s hard and you want to!
5. To always keep your heart open to our family…I need you.

What I am sure of:
I have chosen you and our jouney begins today!

Mommy.

Story Behind the Adoption – Never too late

two girls sitting on sidewalkGuest post by Gigi Kean, Adoptive mother and teacher

“I met Maci at the end of her 8th grade year. She came to the high school where I work, to tour in preparation for her freshman year. Maci was well known by everyone in the special education department because of her story. We knew Maci was an orphan, her parents died when she was young. At the beginning of her high school career, Maci lived with an aunt and by the beginning of her sophomore year that relationship ended, and Maci went into foster care. I knew she was in a group home but I thought her life improved after she went into care and never really saw her as the type of kid who wanted to be adopted. Maci did seem better but she had her low moments and those of us who cared about her were there for her to help her pick up the pieces when she came out of it.

One day in October I had a conversation with her. She told me she had legally changed her plan from adoption to extended foster care. I was shocked because it was the first time I had ever heard that she had wished to be adopted. I actually thought that someone else was in the process of adopting her. Stunned, I asked her why she had changed it and she went into a litany of reasons; none of them being that she no longer wanted to be a part of a family. Essentially, Maci had given up hope. I can’t explain what happened but something inside of me felt like a switch that had been flipped. I had known this girl for more than two years, but it was as if I was seeing her for the first time. I knew at that second, she would become my daughter. I just needed to figure out how to make it happen.

Teenagers are big and some may think they’re scary because they have “big” problems, but the need to have a parent who is lovingly committed to a child is no different at age 7 than at age 17. They’re still just children who need a family who will be there to love and guide them for the rest of their lives.”

If you have room in your heart and are passionate about helping teens become successful consider becoming a foster or adoptive parent today. Your love and support can help change lives. For more information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please visit our website at  http://myflfamilies.com/fosteringteens.

Celebrating the Dream

Mike & Foster MomGuest post by Mike Williams, entrepreneur and former foster youth

February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the history and contributions of African Americans. I have been fortunate to learn great things about my heritage, and how so many African Americans helped paved the way for me.

Two of my favorite African American heroes are Dr. Steve Perry and Les Brown. Dr. Perry is the founder of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut, which has sent 100 percent of its predominantly low-income, minority, first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006. I had the honor of meeting Dr. Perry at the 2015 National Faith Symposium and he made an impact on my life forever. Secondly, Les Brown is a man who not only found the greatness inside himself, but helped thousands of others as well, including myself. He is a former foster kid like me, and is now one of the most sought-after speakers in the world and I aspire to impact thousands just like him.

Like these great men, perhaps my story can inspire others to never give up on their dreams. I arrived in foster care around the age of 9 because my mother was on drugs for many years and could not take care of me. I never knew my father. The amount of pain I endured as a young child was traumatic. I went from being a little angel, who thought I was a precious gift from God for my mom to love forever, to a very disrespectful and disobedient child who hated adults. So while most kids my age were playing football, video games and going to movies… my world was being turned upside down. I was placed in more than 20 foster homes and attended more than 10 different schools. I remained in the foster care system until aging out at 18.

Changes in my behavior and emotions paved a rocky road for me. I was sad, alone and depressed. I even attempted to take my life and end it all. But I’m still standing.

I believe I’m a great example of why you don’t have to be a product of your circumstances. I’ve graduated from Tallahassee Community College with my AA Degree and am continuing my studies for my Bachelor’s in Business Management. I’ve helped launch and market several successful businesses and I’m a growing motivational/inspirational speaker.

I was a child destined for failure until amazing people came into my life like my foster mom, Pamela Benton, and foster dad, Matt McKibbin. When faced with some of my life’s hardest challenges, these two people were there to uplift and guide me. They embody the true meaning of committed and dedicated parents and I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of their families.

I believe we can all make a difference in the lives of children and families. African Americans should be encouraged to become foster and adoptive parents. To me, that’s how real black history is made.

#InspiringSelfSuccess

#ItCanBeDone

The eyes of twenty-three children

image of a persons eyes Guest post by Emily Meadows

At 15, a part of me died, the part that was inherently selfish and conceited. In that empty space grew a form of myself who was constantly looking out for the wellbeing of others, forgoing my desires for the needs of the children we welcomed into our home. When I was 15, my parents became foster parents.

This was a very strange decision on their part, seeing as they were two years from turning 40 and their two biological children were already teenagers. But God works in strange ways. Thus began our family’s journey into the depths of the foster care system and the hidden world of social work.

For a very long time, it was hard to decide whether or not I was going to be directly involved in the lives of these children. At some point though, the heart of God and the love of Christ took over. Every moment I spent with these children was a blessing, a burst of purples and lime greens and pinks, radiating with joy, excitement, and perhaps most importantly, hope and safety on their part.

It was a blessing in disguise, and those moments were some of my happiest. Most nights ended with me helping the children we had taken into our home to learn how to spell, or how to write a complete sentence. One night in particular, our oldest child came into my room and asked me about something her classmate had said.

“Emily, this kid in my class said today that he doesn’t believe God works miracles.” I set my anatomy textbook aside and invited her to sit beside me, “What do you mean? What were the exact words he said?” He said that he believes in God, and that God created the world. “Well, what do you think about it?” I don’t think he’s right, because if God didn’t still do really cool work, me and my sister wouldn’t be here with you, Kate, Aunt Jennifer and Uncle John.”

But at the end of every child’s stay, it never got easier to say goodbye. In fact, I believe it got harder. Every child seemed to assimilate into our family faster. Their backgrounds almost forced them to, because for the first time in a very long time these children felt loved and completely safe.

I looked into the eyes of twenty-three children in the past five years and I have felt my heart break twenty-three times. But thankfully, not every story has a heart wrenching ending, and not every child leaves. Three years in, I stood in a courtroom before a judge, crying once again, at the end of a chapter in a child’s life. Three years later, he was not just another foster child.

He was my brother — a tried and true Meadows — forever and for always.