Wally and Christa Bailey already had a teenage son who was growing into a young man with a bright future. With a belief that they still had much love to give, they wanted to be foster parents and were considering adopting but weren’t sure. However, when one child came to their home, followed ten days later by her sister, Wally and Christa got more than they bargained for but consider it a double-blessing. Today, they have two beautiful girls who call them “Mom” and “Dad.”
With Jade and Raven, now ages 12 and 11, respectively, the Bailey household is always busy and filled with sounds of laughter and joy. The Baileys adopted their daughters through Brevard Family Partnership, Brevard’s lead child welfare agency that manages the programs and services for children who have suffered abuse, neglect and abandonment. Jade and Raven’s biological parents’ rights had been terminated, meaning they were no longer allowed to care for the children. When that happens, as it did to Jade and Raven, children become dependents of the State and are available for adoption.
During the last fiscal year, 3,250 children in Florida, who had been permanently removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect, were placed with “forever families” and have a place they can now call home. Seventy-one of those children were adopted in Brevard, a 17% increase over the previous year. Since BFP began operations in 2005, 560 children and teens have found “forever homes.”
Through BFP and its family preservation program, Brevard C.A.R.E.S., the Baileys have been able to get the support and services they need to address their girls’ unique needs and help them flourish.
November is National Adoption month, a good time to raise awareness of the many children in Brevard and through-out Florida who are also searching for their forever families. Working with its adoption partner, Intervention Services, and in cooperation with several other local agencies, BFP is reaching out to the Space Coast community to ponder the question, “Got Love?” If one does, public adoption is always a possibility.
The opportunity to become an adoptive parent is open to most everyone. There are no restrictions on marital status, religious beliefs, ethnicity, sexual orientation or whether a prospective parent or parents owns or rents a home. The primary consideration is that the adults pass background screenings, a home inspection to assure they can accommodate an additional family member, and have the means and capacity to care for a child as if they were their own. Children adopted through Brevard Family Partnership are eligible for health coverage and can receive up to four years of tuition reimbursement. Families also receive an annual stipend to help support each child and have access to a variety of family services and supports.
Being an adoptive family like the Baileys isn’t for everyone but for those who choose to be, the rewards are boundless and the love of a child is like none other. Raven summed it up best when asked what it was like to be part of a forever family. Her response: “We’re just a family.” The Baileys are more than “just” but a family they are!