Today was a special, historic and beautiful day. A day filled with joy, love and hope. Today we finalized the first same-sex married couple adoption in the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
I had the honor to represent George and Jason, a loving couple who has been together for many years and whose marriage was finally recognized in Florida in December of 2014. George and Jason opened their home and their hearts to Michael last year.
Michael, a thirteen year old who has spent the past four years in foster care, longed for his forever family while bouncing from home to home. As a Guardian ad Litem Program attorney for many years, I knew many children like Michael. It was heartbreaking to see these children grow up in our foster care system. While there are many amazing and wonderful foster parents in Florida, it can be extremely difficult to find a good fit for older children. Even with wonderful foster parents, Guardian ad Litem volunteers, compassionate and hard working caseworkers, these children often flounder. Michael’s excellent and committed attorney commented, “As much as I have enjoyed being in his life, he needed a FAMILY, not another nice adult.”
When Michael met George and Jason in 2014, they all knew within days that their family was finally whole. Michael has thrived while in their care, recently being accepted into the prestigious Cambridge Program at his local school. They enjoy traveling together as a family with a cruise and trip to Washington DC planned this summer. After their adoption hearing, Michael proudly proclaimed, “I am a Stark, DCF is behind me, I love my two dads and you are mine forever!”
While gay individuals have been able to adopt in Florida since The Third District Court of Appeal’s Gill decision in 2010, they have had to adopt individually and not as a married couple. With Judge Hinkle’s ruling in December of 2014 in Brenner v. Scott, same-sex marriage is now recognized in Florida. These decisions brought us to today. A day where the legal system helped a boy know deep in his being that he would be loved forever and a family was finally given the respect they have earned. A special day indeed.