GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Kids First of Florida kicked off the holiday season last Monday by hosting an adoption ceremony at the courthouse for 14 children and 10 families. The children were thrilled to celebrate their first Thanksgiving with their new parents, although nervous to speak in front of the court.
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Kids First of Florida kicked off the holiday season last Monday by hosting an adoption ceremony at the courthouse for 14 children and 10 families.
The children were thrilled to celebrate their first Thanksgiving with their new parents, although nervous to speak in front of the court.
“Do you want to talk to the judge?” asked Anastasia Hunt.
Reyana Mosley nodded her head yes.
“Make sure you say, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ You’re not going to freeze up (testifying) again, are you?”
Reyana shook her head no.
Anastasia Hunt and Arnold Mosley, with their soon-to-be daughter and son, Reyana and Tristan, took the stand before Judge Angela Cox. After a successful final home evaluation and recommendation, the married couple from Keystone Heights was overjoyed to have reached the finish line in an adoption process that lasted four years.
When asked, “Have you fostered a parent-child relationship? Do you care for their physical and emotional needs?” Hunt responded to both, “Absolutely.”
When asked, “Do you want to adopt these children?” Hunt responded, “More than anything in the world.”
When Reyana and Tristan were asked how they felt about the adoption, “excited” and “good” were what they stated to the judge.
The pound of the gavel officially christened the Mosley family. Cox welcomed the new family to take pictures. Reyana and Tristan were invited to take home a book and a stuffed animal. The two children smiled, not just because Christmas came early but because they’d be going home with their new mom and dad.
For Thanksgiving, the Mosley family plans to prepare smoked turkey and ham. Every year, they make extras for their friends and family and donations for their community. For the Mosleys, giving back is what makes Thanksgiving so special.
Next came the Sweeting family. With his soon-to-be son, Donovan, Clint Sweeting took the stand in the courthouse.
“(With Donovan), I am 10 times the man I was. I have learned to be more loving and caring. With family, anything is possible. Love conquers all. Family is such a staple in my life. I will be thanking them for adding so much love to my life,” said Sweeting.
Sweeting received an exemplary home evaluation. The evaluation commended how much Donovan flourished under Sweeting’s care.
Cox addressed Sweeting before pounding the gavel.
“You made it clear from the beginning how much you wanted Donovan and (I remember) telling you we’d give you a fair opportunity. It is so nice that everything has come full circle. You are his father. He is your son,” she said.
Cox herself handpicked Donovan’s book because she knew he liked cars.
Sweeting is overjoyed at what this first official Thanksgiving means for his family. He’s waited a year to bring his family home officially for the first time. There will be turkey, cranberry sauce and other dishes on the table. For Sweeting, family is what makes Thanksgiving so special. He is excited to share his Thanksgiving traditions with his newest member.
“Donovan is full of love. (I’ll always remember) when he called me ‘Daddy Rasta’ for the first time,” Sweeting said.
Since the Florida Department of Children and Families was privatized, Kids First of Florida has been the contracted community-based care agency tasked to provide child welfare and foster care services to the residents of Clay County. Since 2003, KFF has worked with families whose children are either at risk for abuse or neglect or who have already been victims of abuse or neglect. The nonprofit organization is responsible for finding and funding placements for every child in foster care, including specialized treatment programs.
Adoption Sponsor Joan Underwood has been involved with KFF for years. She had her start working through a Duval County agency with an outreach program in Clay County, where she fell in love with the county and the kids. Her passion is finding happy families for children.
“The adoption process often leads to a lot of conflicting emotions. Even after instances of abuse and neglect, many kids still feel loyalty to their past families. For many, it’s hard to let go, even after (protection services) have terminated the rights of their original, abusive (households),” Underwood said.
The only tears shed were those of joy. Children walked away from the courthouse, holding a stuffed animal in one hand and a new parent in the other.