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Forever Families

The Children’s Society of Florida supports parents who are eager to adopt and helps provide forever homes for children.

Jessica Ellis always saw herself adopting or fostering a child at some point. It’s no surprise considering she works in the education field with kids and most of all, she loves children.

This thought started to become a reality in 2018 when she had a cancer scare, underwent surgery and ultimately wasn’t able to have her own biological children. Longing for a family, Ellis and her husband talked about the possibility of going through In Vitro fertilization to have children biologically, an expensive treatment.

“Not that we don’t want biological children, but we both agreed we never would pay all of that money when there are so many children in the world who need a home and parents to provide them what the world has to offer,” she says. “We knew then we were going to look into adoption.”

The Ellis’s reached out to the Children’s Home Society of Florida where they signed up for a class to become adoptive parents. Adoption is one of the many services this organization offers to the Central Florida community, as it focuses on “changing odds to opportunities for children and families through high-impact programming that creates a pathway to well-being and life-long success,” according to Regional Executive Director Sherri Gonzales.

“Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS) works diligently to find the right family ready to provide the forever home children have been waiting for,” Gonzales says. “At CHS, we carefully recruit, train and support adoptive parents who are eager to welcome home a child through adoption. We have adoption specialists that provide training and support throughout the entire process. We carefully match children with families that have strengths that can meet the unique needs of each child.”

“Our case manager, Yolanda, was amazing,” Ellis recalls when they were going through the adoption process. “She always answered when I’d email or text her and was always on the lookout for us finding us the perfect match.”

While children are waiting to be adopted, CHS offers various programs and resources, always focusing on the “whole child” and providing opportunities that will help them thrive.

“Many children who are waiting to be adopted are also served through other CHS programs, such as counseling, our community partnership schools or mentoring,” Gonzales says. “We also work with their foster parents and caregivers to help connect them to enrichment opportunities and activities.”

While there are a variety of reasons people looking to adopt come to CHS, their shared goal is to create their forever family.

“Whether like Jessica, prospective parents are unable to have biological children, or like many others, they desire to provide a home for our community’s children waiting for a family. It is so meaningful for us to provide a service that will allow them to create a forever family,” Gonzales says. “We see so many kids in the foster system that ‘age out’ at 18 and never get an opportunity to have that forever family. To be able to pair Jessica and her husband with a child, it’s such a beautiful experience on both sides—for those wanting the children and for the children in foster care who want a forever family. That mix right there is what makes it so beautiful.”

The Ellis’s eventually adopted a young boy, who they say has brought joy and love to their lives and completed their family.

“He turned five the day after our adoption. We look at it as he was adopted then started the next chapter of his life in a completely new, fresh start,” Ellis says. “He is a miracle. He was a little boy who didn’t talk a year and a half ago and now he’s spewing out words and talking up a storm. He’s learned so much and he’s doing great things. He has a shirt that says ‘this kid will change the world,’ and I truly believe he will because of the great support systems he’s had, and CHS did that for him.”

Ellis and her husband are thinking about adopting a second child down the road and hope CHS can add another piece to their family. “With Yolanda and CHS, we would love to adopt a little girl,” she says.

November is National Adoption Month. Families normally come together in the courthouse for the adoption finalizations, but due to COVID-19, this year’s celebration will be different with the courtrooms performing the finalizations virtually. Gonzales says it will still be a celebration nonetheless and the start of a new chapter for these soon-to-be forever families.

“It’s one of the most beautiful experiences to observe and be a part of. Families are united, this is your mom and dad, this is your new family and it’s a forever situation,” Gonzales says. “I don’t think there’s anything greater than being a part of that.”

Children’s Home Society of Florida
Multiple locations
321-397-3000 |

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s November 2020 issue.