A Happy Ending for a Brother and Sister
The path from foster care to adoption is not the same for every child. Some enter the system and are adopted as quickly as possible while others experience setbacks and unexpected circumstances that lead to a long, arduous road. Such was the case of Jack and Maddison*, siblings who over of the course of 10 years had three foster families, were transferred out of state and finally adopted this past year. For Bob Merill, the last of three guardians assigned to the case, said that this was not a traditional case. “It was by no fault of their own [that they weren’t adopted]; they’re great kids,” gushed Merrill.
Merill, along with Guardian Volunteer Supervisor Cooky Silverman in Miami and Pam Alvarez in Northern Florida, worked on the unusual case as shifting living conditions forced the children to move throughout the state. The siblings first entered the foster care system as toddlers almost a year after being abducted by their parents, who fled Miami when it was discovered that their third child was born exposed to cocaine. Worried that the authorities would take custody of Jack and Madison, the parents escaped with the children and were missing for more than a year.
Once the children and parents were found, the county sent Jack and Maddison to live with a family near the Florida panhandle to ensure that their birth parents wouldn’t abduct them a second time. “It seemed like a good place for them until their foster parents had a crisis,” Silverman revealed about the short-lived stay. The foster father who was abroad for work decided not to return to Florida, leaving the children and the foster mother who did not to be a single mother. As a result, Jack and Maddison were moved to a second home, where the foster parents, an older couple, decided the children were just not the right fit.
The third home, which Merrill describes as a therapeutic home where the children received various forms of therapy, turned out to be their lucky break. The children were placed there, in part, because foster mother worked as a teacher and had experience caring for foster children. What’s more, her daughter, who lived next door, also had adopted children of her own. “It was supposed to be a temporary home,” revealed Silverman of the place where Jack and Maddison would eventually live permanently. “It was unexpected,” added Merrill, who was surprised when the parents who already had five adopted children, some with special needs, decided to take in Jack and Maddison. According to Merrill “One day Maddison turns to the mother and asks ‘Do you have any room for us?’ and their hearts broke … so the parents went back, thought it through and said yes”.
The adoption happened via Skype since all of the parties involved were in different parts of the U.S., which admittedly made Jack uneasy. “He didn’t believe they were getting adopted. He’d say ‘yeah, sure we are,” recalled Merrill. The day of the adoption everyone was so nervous and excited. “I turned to him and asked, ‘Do you believe me now? And he just smiled and said ‘Yep!’”
The case is now closed and according to Silverman, the children are doing great with their new family, who are taking good care of them. “Although it was a long voyage for them, this story has a happy ending” says Silverman.
“We have adoption fairs every November as a way to show everybody that we do have adoptions—kids don’t always spend the rest of their lives in foster care.” But to help those that do take longer to leave the system depends on the help of volunteers. “We couldn’t cover all of our cases with just staff, we need volunteers to get wonderful results like Jack and Maddison’s.”
To find out about volunteering and learn how you can make a positive impact in local adoptions, visit beavoice.org.
*Names were changed to protect the children.