NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – Twenty children were officially adopted by 17 families in Pasco County on Friday.
It was a day filled with fun, balloons and pizza, but for the parents… it was a day filled with relief and happiness.
8 On Your Side spoke with mother Sierra Washington just after she signed paperwork to adopt her daughter Riley, who is 3.
Riley was Washington’s first child when she received her foster license. Washington said it’s been a long time coming.
“I’ve had her for 1,093 days. So, long time. Scary but worth it,” she explained.
We asked Miles Carpentier and his wife Stephanie about the adoption process with their little boy, Camen.
“The process? The process was I took one look at this little guy. He held his arms out at me, smiled, and that was it. He already made up my mind,” Miles said as he grinned ear to ear.
They hadn’t yet signed the paperwork, but Miles was more than ready.
“It’s going to be a relief. It’s going to be excited. It’s going to be amazing,” he said.
Former Marine Bradley Hawkins was the keynote speaker of the event.
Inspired by a Bible passage, he and his wife have fostered a total of 18 children. They’ve adopted seven, ranging in age from 2 years old to 9 years old.
“We didn’t go out into this thing going, ‘let’s have eight kids!’ because we’re not maniacs. But they came to us as sibling groups, so one of them is a sibling group of four and a sibling group of two,” Hawkins explained.
He said many families won’t take sibling groups but his family refuses to break up siblings, especially due to whatever trauma a child has already experienced.
Before adopting the four siblings in August, Hawkins’ wife Shannon gave birth to a baby boy.
“If we would have went into this thing with our own mindset of ‘well here’s our number and here’s what we can take care of,’ it would never turn out that way. Because I would’ve never thought, oh we can take care of this many kids,” he said.
Hawkins gave some advice to people considering becoming foster or adoptive parents.
He admitted kids “can be scary sometimes.”
“It’s not about you and you can do it! It’s hard, you’re going to make mistakes. The kids don’t care that you make mistakes. All they care is that you love them,” Hawkins explained. “The kids want you to, I’m going to say discipline, and there’s a reason. Because they know they’re being loved. ‘He cares enough to tell me I can’t do that, oh I’ve got to go sit in the corner now.’ Rather than ‘nobody cares anything about me and I can just do whatever I want to.'”
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