There are more than 500 children in temporary foster homes in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties. They have been abused, neglected or abandoned. While some may eventually return to their birth families, the rest will need adoptive families.
FamiliesFirst Network is a community-based care agency that provides foster care and adoption services for children and families in the Northwest Florida area, from Escambia County east to Walton County.
It may surprise some to know that no parenting experience is required. “The most important requirements for adoptive parents are that they be very patient, committed and flexible. And a good sense of humor helps a lot,” said Peggy Custred, adoption recruitment for FamiliesFirst Network. Families must be able to meet the needs of the children and both single and married individuals can apply to adopt. While there are no specific income requirements, the families must be financially stable and be able to include another child into their budgets.
The process to adopt is not always quick. All prospective adoptive applicants must first take the Quality Parent Training class. The class is eight-weeks long and teaches prospective adoptive parents what impact being abused, neglected or abandoned can have on a child and how the families can help with that. After the educational process, a home study begins and can take up to 90 days to complete. But once approved, the adoptive family is ready to select their child.
There is no cost to adoptive families for the classes, home study or even the costs related to finalizing the adoption. Families are eligible to receive a monthly maintenance subsidy, and the adopted child or children are covered by Medicaid for their medical expenses until they are 18 years old. They are also eligible for “free” Florida college tuition.
With more than 50 children eligible for legal adoption at any point in time in the community, Custred said, “There is a huge need for both foster and adoptive families.”
Families interested in adoption can contact FamiliesFirst Network at 1-866-313-9874 in Pensacola.
Mikhail is a complex, charming, active little boy who has had a lot of difficult experiences in his short life. He is something of a loner who often prefers to do things by himself. Other times he can be quite talkative and sociable. Mikhail is an extremely smart child and is in regular classes in school although he has some special needs that require extra attention. He loves dinosaurs and, of course, his favorite movie is “Jurassic World.” He also loves playing with Yu Gi Oh cards and video games. Mikhail needs a very special adoptive family who can manage his behaviors which can sometimes be very challenging and who will be there for him forever, no matter what. Mikhail was born in October 2002.