One of Florida’s 100 Longest Waiting Kids Waits No More
Donnie (names changed for privacy) was born cocaine dependent due to his mother’s longstanding battle with drugs. Removed once as an infant, Donnie and his older brother went back to live with mom for another year before they had to be removed again due to her inability to stay off drugs and care for her kids.
Donnie became available for adoption before he even turned 4. It is unclear as to why he was never adopted; the Department of Children and Families at the time recruited families specifically wanting to adopt Donnie and his older brother, but Donnie’s older brother eventually decided that they didn’t want to be adopted. As Donnie grew and developed, it became clear he had significant challenges to overcome. A quiet, polite child, Donnie was extremely uncomfortable in social situations and had few friends. His most stable relative was in and out of jail. Donnie had a low IQ and was placed in special education classes at school. Donnie was eventually placed in a group home at age 9, and remained there for eight years.
During his time in the group home, Donnie’s older brother turned 18. One Hope United received Donnie’s case when he was 13, and began recruiting for him, as Donnie expressed an interest in being adopted, but Donnie had trouble connecting with adoptive families. An older child of minority status with special needs, it seemed that a family would never be found for Donnie. As Donnie grew older, One Hope United identified a family for Donnie, a single man who enthusiastically pursued a relationship with Donnie, but Donnie felt shy, uncomfortable and unable to relate. The match didn’t work out. One Hope United Adoptions Case Manager Stacey Greenberg did her best to prepare Donnie for life on his own, but worried about his ability to do so with his challenges and lack of support system.
One day after Donnie turned 17, One Hope United in Miami sent a home study to One Hope United in Orlando for a single man living in South Florida. He worked at a school, had experience in adopting and knew a lot about the services in his area. He had a passion for adopting children from the system to give them a better opportunity. After speaking to him on the phone, Adoptions Case Manager Supervisor Maribel Rosado had an intuition that Donnie and this man might make a good match, and One Hope United worked tirelessly to set up visits between Donnie and this man, making many trips from Orlando to South Florida and back.
In November 2010, at 17 and a half years old, Donnie was placed with his adoptive parent. And on Feb. 7, Donnie was officially adopted. Although he still has his challenges, Donnie’s adoptive parent is committed to being there with him every step of the way on his way to independence, which will likely happen some time from now. But Donnie will not be alone in his journey, and for this One Hope United staff share a great sense of joy. A big thank you to everyone who was involved in helping Donnie finally find his forever home after 17 years!