More Family Stories

 

The Weaver Family

"They had a deep seated desire to help a child."

The Weaver Family

Parents: Bradley and Tammy
Adopted Child: Katie

Bradley and Tammy Weaver became foster parents after being inspired by some fellow members of First Christian Church in Cape Coral who became foster and adoptive parents. They had a deep seated desire to help a child and sought their foster license.

When they received 10-month-old Katie in 2003, she instantly became a part of the family. Their older daughter, Miranda, loved having a younger sister and later that year, the Weavers decided they wanted to adopt Katie.

The process was long and arduous, but the Weavers found support and strength in the families of their church congregation who were able to mentor and guide them. Three years later, Katie was theirs.

Today, Katie is a typical 7-year-old first-grader who enjoys gymnastics, attends church with her parents, and participates in youth group and Bible camp.

The Bechrakis Family

"I knew he was out there. I work less than three miles away from the hospital where he was born. He was under our noses the entire time."

The Bechrakis Family

Parents: Andreas and Yvette
Adopted Child: Giorgio

Family always came first for Yvette Lujan and Andreas Bechrakis, who were married in 1986. After her father passed away, Yvette who is Colombian-American and Andreas, who is of Greek descent, began caring for her family, even helping her brother though college. Later, Yvette and Andreas decided to have a child but were too old to conceive. So they decided to adopt a child from Colombia. Read more about the Bechrakis Family >>

The Gleydura Family

It didn't take long for Lexi, a former only child, to get used to life in a bigger family.

The Gleydura Family

Parents: Michael and Debbie
Biological Children: Austin and Tyler
Adopted Child: Alexis

When their niece, Alexis, ("Lexi") was removed from her parents' custody, emergency room nurses Michael and Debbie Gleydura opened their home to the bright seven-year-old. Lexi's adoption was finalized in December of 2008. Read more about the Gleydura Family >>

The Hemming Family

"Kevin goes above and beyond the norms."

The Hemming Family

Parents: Gust and Monica
Adopted Child: Kevin

Monica was a social worker when she was asked to drive seven-year-old Kevin to an event for foster children. She and her husband Gust, a Navy retiree and private contractor, adopted the avid reader. Read more about the Hemming Family >>

The McMullen Family

"They complete our family - you don't realize there was something missing until you have it."

The McMullen Family

Parents: Tammy and Chuck
Biological Children: Grant, Garrett, and Jensen
Adopted Children: James, Ciara and Hailey

Tammy and Chuck McMullen have been involved in fostering and mentoring children their entire married lives. They were foster parents for Ciara and Hailey and then found out they had an older brother James. The McMullen's united the sibling group and adopted all three, completing their family. Read more about the McMullen Family >>

The Pitts Family

"I love being a dad. That's the best job."

The Pitts Family

Parents: Greg and Jan Pitts
Adopted Children: Tea, Tori, Isabel "Izzie", Sarah and Iva

Greg and Jan, small business owners, adopted a sibling group of four sisters. The adoption was finalized in June of 2004. They later adopted another teenage girl. Read more about the Pitts Family >>

The Webber Family

""I never thought I could love in this capacity."

The Webber Family

Parents: Jason and Melody
Adopted Children: Jason and Jessie

Jason (a day porter) and Melody Webber (a kindergarten teacher) adopted four-year-old Jason in December of 2008. They are currently in the process of adopting another son, seven-year-old Jessie. Read more about the Webber Family >>

The Carper Family

"Adoption is the hardest thing we've ever done, but also the best thing we've ever done," concludes Chuck.

The Carper Family

Parents: Chuck and Karen
Adopted Child: Brandon

Chuck and Karen Carper have always wanted children. They tried for many years to have one of their own, but were unsuccessful. However, their circumstances did not deter them. After attending a Heart Gallery night at a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, the couple saw several featured children in need of adoption. Their quick glimpse of Florida's most deserving children led Chuck and Karen to realize their situation could be turned into the chance of a lifetime. Read more about the Carper Family >>

The West Family

"Having the ability to give someone something they lost - family and home - that's the greatest gift."

The West Family

Parents: Aundre and Connie
Adopted Children: Freddie and Keenen

Aundre and Connie West had six grown children when they met teenage brothers Freddie and Keenen, who were being fostered by a neighbor. When Keenen was sent away, Aundre and Connie made it their personal mission to keep the brothers together. The boys' adoptions were finalized May 18, 2009. Read more about the West Family >>

The Jennings Family

"Selena has great potential and it's important to keep her momentum going. She is a true survivor."

The Jennings Family

Parent: Fran
Adopted Child: Selena

Fran cannot imagine a life without her adoptive daughter. Selena was one pound, seven ounces when she was born and suffered a grade four hemorrhage in the brain. As a result, Selena is partially blind, and suffers from seizure disorders and cerebral palsy, which she continues to battle today. Read more about the Jennings Family >>

The Konold Family

"Our biological children were extremely happy for us and supported us with lots of love when we adopted the children," explains Irene.

The Konold Family

Parents: Irene and Ray
Adopted Children: John, Joseph, Keyeria, Nadine, Beula, and Jeremiah

Mother's Day weekend of 2008 was life-changing for the Konold family. That's when John and Joseph entered their lives. Though initially the children were only staying with the Konold family for a few days, there was an instant connection. The Konold family decided to adopt John and Joseph. Then they heard there were three more siblings. Read more about the Konold Family >>

The Westberry Family

"For the first time in their lives, the four siblings were a real family," states Lesha.

The Westberry Family

Parents: Lesha and Joseph
Biological Child: Joseph
Adopted Children: Juriyah, Jediah, Jagger, Jayden, Justus, Joshua, Josiyah, Mayra, and Cierra

Lesha and Joseph Westberry are blessed with wonderful children - 10 to be exact. Of those 10, nine have been adopted by the Westberry family. Their biological son Joseph, age 10, thoroughly enjoys having so many brothers and sisters. Read more about the Westberry Family >>

The Baxley Family

"What if I had missed this?"

The Baxley Family

Parents: Dennis and Ginette
Adopted Children: Jeffrey and Ranee

Dennis and Ginette Baxley have never had an empty nest. With three boys of their own they thought they were done. That was until they became friends with a child from their church who they later learned was in foster care. They enrolled in MAPP classes and started out as foster parents. Through the process they realized that the easiest part was learning to love another child. Read more about the Baxley Family >>

The Pareja Family

"He is the reason I wake up and work hard everyday - everything I do, I do it for Zack."

The Pareja Family

Parent: Angel
Adopted Child: Zack

Angel Pareja was a self-described work-a-holic. The 40 year-old had started his own successful construction company, was surrounded by many close friends and family members, but he felt something was missing in his life. Angel knew he wanted to share his life-lessons and pass on his legacy to a son and adoption was an enriching solution. Read more about the Pareja Family >>

The Whelan Family

"Both children remind us of the importance of a supporting family and to laugh at the little things which make life wonderful."

The Whelan Family

Parents: Bill and Lisa
Adopted Children: Abby and Noah


Bill and Lisa Whelan, both Connecticut natives, moved to Daytona Beach, Florida in 1998 with their four biological children and their adopted daughter, Abigail. The Whelan family first met Abby, who was born pre-mature and diagnosed with Down syndrome, while Lisa was a nurse in the local hospital delivery ward. Already licensed foster care parents, Lisa and Bill took Abby into their family as an infant and eventually adopted her. Read more about the Whelan Family >>

The Hawkins Family

"My husband and I made the commitment to have faith, and love any child brought to us by God."

The Hawkins Family

Parents: Jeff and Kathleen
Adopted Children: Michelle, Rachel and Brandon

Jeff is the chief photographer for the Heart Gallery of Florida, which displays many of the children up for adoption in Central Florida. Kathleen currently serves on the Devereux Florida Board of Directors and is the Heart Gallery of Central Florida Committee Chair and Community Liaison. Read more about the Hawkins Family >>

The Hogue Family

"When you adopt older children you have to be understanding and empathetic."

The Hogue Family

Parents: Steve and Sandra
Adopted Children: Silas, Stephen, Seth and Selah

Adoption always appealed to Steve and Sandra Hogue. Before they ever married, they discussed adoption as a way of expanding their family. Not long after their wedding, the couple discovered they were infertile and realized adoption was their only option if they were to have a family. Read more about the Hogue Family >>

The Mathis Family

"There is a great reward. It feels like they've been part of the family forever."

The Mathis Family

Parents: Pamela and Clint
Adopted Children: Troy, Selena, Whitney, Emil and Elma

Pamela and Clint Mathis already had a large family with four children when they chose to adopt her three half-siblings in 2005. Now the Mathis' are completing the adoption of two more teenagers; a brother and sister they met at church. Read more about the Mathis Family >>

The Schwartz Family

"You provide something no one else can and in return they love you unconditionally and are willing to give you everything."

The Schwartz Family

Parents: Merrie and David

Merrie and David Schwartz have made a career raising and caring for children with medical complexities. The Schwartz's have been foster parents for 20 years; have a blended family of six biological adult children and three adopted children.

"I think every child deserves a home, some place to grow up and be loved, regardless of whether they have disabilities," said Merrie. Read more about the Schwartz Family >>

The Brewer Family

"We have celebrated three birthdays and a Christmas with three boys who had never decorated a real Christmas tree. Did we video tape it? You bet we did, every single minute!"

The Brewer Family

Parents: Gary and Alta
Adopted Children: William, Joey and Matthew

It took a matter of seconds and one phone call for Gary and Alta Brewer to decide they were going to adopt three brothers, William, Joey and Matthew. Having no children of their own, the Brewers felt the house was too quiet and had already considered adoption but was turned off by a private agency that previously cheated them. Nonetheless, the Brewers were determined to fill their house with life and laughter and turned to Florida's domestic adoption program for help. Read more about the Brewer Family >>

The Tyus Family

"We couldn't have asked God for a better family and we are thankful everyday."

The Tyus Family

Parents: Kelley and Rodney
Adopted Children: Brandon, Juan, Loren, Jesse, Erika, Sierra, Rebekah and Randall

Outside Pensacola, Florida, in a small farming community, the Tyus Family lives a unique and special life. The home bustles with the sound of a large family, the phone rings, bacon sizzles in the pan and cartoons sing in the background. Read more about the Tyus Family >>

The Gorenflo Family

"They have taught me that I have to listen and laugh. I was a very structured nurse with a controlled life - but life can not be controlled."

The Gorenflo Family

Parents: Les and Rita
Adopted Children: Jonathan, Bryan, Megan, Adrienne, Nathaniel, Thomas, and Dondre

Rita Gorenflo had always wanted a child to call her own and today she has seven! In 1995 Rita, a registered nurse working in the emergency department, was attending a pediatric AIDS seminar when she first learned about public adoption. During the seminar, Rita spoke with a foster mother who adopted terminally ill children with AIDS. Rita realized the little children she cared for everyday were in desperate need of a permanent, loving home that could provide the support these special children needed and began looking into adoption. Read more about the Gorenflo Family >>

The Petkovich Family

"Every day I am grateful for my children."

The Petkovich Family

Parent: Trudy
Adopted Children: Katherine, Deborah and Molly

Trudy is a widow who has spent the past 16 years dedicating her life to foster children in the South Florida area. She currently resides with her biological children and three adopted children. Read more about the Petkovich Family >>

The Bell Family

"Parenting is like riding a bike it all comes back to you."

The Bell Family

Parents: Susan and her husband
Adopted Child: Vanessa

The Bells had thought about adoption early on in their marriage, but with three young boys it never happened. With her boys all grown up, Susan decided to become a mentor for foster children and met Vanessa. The Bells decided to adopt Vanessa and now have the daughter they always wanted. Read more about the Bell Family >>

The Crews Family

"I saw them in the paper," explains Kimberly, "took the paper home - showed it to Charles and the kids and we all decided we had to help."

The Crews Family

Parents: Kimberly and Charles
Adopted Children: Lauren, Empress, and Justin

Adoption wasn't even a consideration for Kimberly and Charles Crews. That is, until Kimberly met Lauren and Empress through the church choir she was directing. Both youngsters, 13 at the time, were in foster care and all it took was a little time around the Crews' children for everyone to become friends. Shortly after that, an article on adoption appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat featuring the two sisters. Read more about the Crews Family >>

The Young Family

"A lot of people think you have to conceive and give birth in order to love them, but that love is there no matter what," Kathy said.

The Young Family

Parents: Kathy and Mike
Adopted Children: Mylee and Jakob

Kathy and Mike Young spent two decades raising their biological children when they opened their home to foster children. Kathy, who was adopted herself, said it was the "desire of her heart" to one day adopt and offer the love and stability to a child the same way her parents did for her.

Once their children left the house, Kathy had a bad case of empty nester syndrome. "I didn't like the emptiness. I didn't like that feeling. I knew I wasn't done. I knew the Lord had more children for us." Read more about the Young Family >>

<< Go Back to Family List

Latest Tweets

Latest Blog Posts

Latest Pictures

Please enable Javascript to view this slideshow

Featured Video

Visit Our Partners

Governor Rick Scott's It's Your Money Tax Cut Budget
Florida Department of Children and Families Logo Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities Logo Agency for Health Care Administration Florida Department of Education Logo Florida Department of Health Logo Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Logo Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Logo Florida's Office of Earling Learning Logo Florida KidCare Logo Everybody's a Teacher
Department of Children and Families Fostering logo