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Greatest Love of All

A Perfect Fit

Markowski Family - Tampa Bay Parenting

My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We are both from upstate New York, and we have been married for 13 years. We have a daughter Penny who is almost 10. We recently made a great addition to our family and adopted our son Q who is 16. This is definitely not something I had always imagined we would do but everything happens for a reason. We feel so fortunate to be parents to two really amazing kids.

There are a couple of things that led our family in this direction. The first is my work with the Junior League of Tampa. Being a member of this organization really opened my eyes to the world of foster care and the children here in our area waiting for a forever home. One of the league’s main focus is “improving the lives of children and families touched by the child welfare system, particularly through the continuum of foster care.” I was so surprised and amazed with my interactions with these kids. They are funny, smart and hopeful despite the

hardships that they have faced in their lifetime, hardships that many of us can’t even imagine.

Another thing that really impacted our family was moving into a new neighborhood a few years ago. We met a truly incredible family that had adopted a child from the foster care system. He is a sweet, smart and funny guy who has the most sparkling personality. He instantly won the hearts of our entire family.

My husband and I would talk about how terrible it was for a kid to live with the feeling of not belonging anywhere. We decided that we would look into adoption, and we promised each other that we would take it one step at a time. After every step, we would look at each other and ask, “Do you want to keep going?” The answer was always yes so here we are!

If you asked me two years ago would I bring a 16-year-old boy into my home with my 9-year-old daughter, I would have said no way. But as we traveled along this journey it became clear that the only thing that matters is that we found a great kid who has a great heart. Q is an extraordinary big brother and Penny is a remarkable little girl. They both astound me with the love that they have and their ability to accept each other with open arms.

We were really open with our family and friends about the reasons we wanted to adopt. Everyone has been so supportive and it has made us feel so thankful to be surrounded by so much love and acceptance.

The very best part, hands down, is being there to see our son experience things that many of us have taken for granted. His first Gasparilla Children’s Parade last year. His first plane ride. His first deep sea fishing trip. Even tasting egg nog for the first time.

If you’re thinking about adopting, just take one step. You may be scared or feel like it is an impossible task but it really is so easy. Just take one step and then take one more.

Our Next Adventure

Wilson Family - Tampa Bay Parenting

Our family began when David and I met in 1998. We were living in Atlanta at the time. From the beginning, we both knew we wanted kids eventually. After five years, we were ready to start looking into our options. The years can fly by when you are traveling the world and living life. Of course, we went through different avenues. The journey always has its winding roads. You have to get through the rough stuff before you get to the good.

We had friends that adopted internationally and we knew that wasn’t for us. There are so many children that need homes here in the U.S. Then we had the Florida ban that we had to wait on to be overturned. Once that hurdle was clear, we signed up for our MAPP classes. I think David and I took about 14 extra classes and certifications because we felt it would better our odds. As a same-sex couple, we had enough challenges ahead of us. After a few mismatches (heart breaks), we were finally matched with two brothers that would soon become our lives, our sons, the reason we breath.

I remember the first time we were to meet the boys at the park, we got there early. As soon as they got out of the car, they were so small we could only see the tops of their heads when they made the turn around the corner of the car. I looked at David and said, “Those are our boys.”

So after visits, bonding, overnights and our first family Thanksgiving, our boys were finally allowed to move in Dec. 21, 2012. One by one, we started introducing them to family and friends. Our sons were embraced on both sides of the family. That being said, we still talk about where they come from biologically. It’s a part of who they are just as our families and homes are a part of us.

The most rewarding part of this whole process is when you hear I love you for the first time. The unconditional love that you share with your children is the sweetest gift of all. If you have ever thought of adopting, do it. It will be the most rewarding decision you ever make. You don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to be rich. You just have to have the heart, patience and understanding.

When I told the boys I was writing this, I asked them both if they could tell the families that are interested in adopting or the kids that need adopting some words of encouragement. Our 5-year-old son said that you have someone that loves you and takes care of you that you can live happily ever after with. Our 8-year-old said being adopted was great to him because it gave him a new family that he loves and that loves him.

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