By: Adlen Robinson
When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me to be nice to everybody because you never knew when you might be speaking to an angel.
After leaving a meeting with my new friend, Melony Witt, I felt as if I may have met that angel.
Melony and her husband, Andrew, just signed the final adoption papers for not one, not two, but five children. The children, all siblings, range in age from 5 to 12.
They join the family of Melony, Andrew and their 12-year-old son.
So what was it like to go from having an only child, to having six?
“It has been an amazing experience,” Melony said. “They are very close to each other, and we feel incredibly blessed to have them.”
Before adopting them, Melony and Andrew were foster parents.
“Most people don’t know much about the world of foster parenting, but it was not a strange concept to me since when I was growing up my parents were foster parents,” she said.
Melony said her mother always had a heart for children, especially children with special needs.
“My mom is like Mother Teresa,” she said. “I saw her love all sorts of children, besides myself and my siblings.”
Melony married young, gave birth to her son and life seemed great. Tragically, her young husband died, leaving her a single mother of a 3-year-old.
In 2005, Melony met Andrew. After they wed in 2007, he legally adopted her son.
A few years ago, she brought up the subject of fostering and the couple decided to take some classes to learn more.
“When you learn about these kids, your heart just melts,” she said.
After fostering three other children, Melony met the five siblings. She and Andrew embarked on the journey to legally adopt them all.
Melony is quick to say she couldn’t do this alone.
“Andrew is such a great father,” she said. “He is such a patient person, with so much love to give our children. He is truly a special person.”
Ashley Anderson, executive director of Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together, knows quite a bit about foster parenting.
Besides being the director of SAFFT, she and her husband have been foster parents for years.
Anderson said becoming foster parents was absolutely “life changing.”
Since its formation in January 2009, Anderson said SAFFT has provided a support network for hundreds of foster parents and adoptive families and their children.
“We want to parents to know that they are not alone. If we can provide that supportive network for the parents, they can ultimately support the children,” she said.
Anderson said Forsyth County has about 80 children at any one time in the foster care system.
“Because we do not have enough foster parents, half of that number has to be moved outside our county,” she said.
That means children are moved away from their schools, family members and sometimes their siblings.
“We hope that people will consider becoming foster parents,” she said. “We have such a great need right now.”
Anderson said if someone is interested in learning more, he or she can call SAFFT and talk to someone about fostering or attend an information meeting.
In addition, Anderson said there are many other things people can do to help impact one of these children.
“My hope is that everybody will do something, these children are our future,” she said.
Melony said she has no illusions about the challenges ahead for her family.
“I am not saying it has been easy,” she said. “There has been anger, tears and frustration. But the good definitely outweighs the bad … we both feel it is worth it.”
Melony wants to advocate for foster parenting, but does so with a note of caution.
“I want people to know that it is not always going to work perfectly, there are children who may not be a good fit in your home, and that is OK,” she said.
“We look at our own situation and say, we fostered three children that did not work out. But if we had of given up, we wouldn’t have our family.”
I want to thank Melony for sharing her inspiring story. I know six children who are so blessed to have such wonderful and compassionate parents.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted on Forsyth News
Upcoming Event #1
Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together, SAFFT, is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving foster children and their caregivers by providing a supportive network.
Non-Profit Organization Working to Restore Families is Seeking Proud Supporters to Sponsor Exclusive Building, “The Family Life Center”
SAFFT has launched its Fall Corporate Building Campaign to give local businesses the opportunity to help families in crisis by sponsoring the new Family Life Center building.
Atlanta and Cumming, GA
September 10th, 2013 – Supporting Adoption & Foster Families Together (SAFFT) is excited to announce new partnership opportunities for Corporate Business Sponsors, as the non-profit unveils its groundbreaking building, The Family Life Center, located in Cumming, GA this Fall. SAFFT’s newly renovated, state-of-the-art Family Life Center will provide natural families, temporary foster caregivers, and adoptive families a place for restoration, healing, and support. Generous businesses in the area currently have a unique opportunity to innovate alongside SAFFT by sponsoring a room in the new Family Life Center.
This unique building is a rare jewel coming to Forsyth County, providing a revolutionary solution to mend families and boost economic growth. In partnership with the CJCC and the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) federal program, SAFFT will begin operating The Family Life Center, one of the very few centers of its kind in the state of Georgia. The Family Life Center expands SAFFT’s current visitation and community center from 2,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet and facilitates new programs that go beyond social services. “We are in lock step with the key social services partners including DFCS, CASA, and the courts to help these families step out of their situation and rebuild their life. This ensures a chance for generational change,” states Ashley Anderson, Executive Director of SAFFT.
This one-of-a-kind facility will feature a unique brick wall display, welcoming visitation rooms, and an engaging grand room available for corporate sponsors at respective levels. With integral support from local business operations, The Family Life Center can provide services such as a supervised visitation center for court ordered visitations, support for domestic violence cases to allow for safe child visitations and custody exchanges, parenting classes, Christian mentoring, a foster and adoptive support network, a resource closet, and child scholarships. “The Family Life Center is one major step towards helping heal families and provides a single place for restorations,” says Mrs. Anderson.
“Families in crisis are part of a generational cycle passed down to children, causing decades of child abuse, substance abuse, homelessness, and severe poverty. In partnership with the community and other organizations, SAFFT is aiming to cover the family with incredible support to restore them for generational change,” Mrs. Anderson illustrates.
SAFFT’s Family Life Center in Forsyth County will open in the Fall of 2013, immediately followed by a new Dawson County Visitation Center. SAFFT will conduct two separate ribbon cutting ceremonies which will include community open house activities.
Business corporations seeking interest in a partnership with SAFFT’s Family Life Center can visithttps://safft.org/support-us/fall-campaign-2013 for more information.
SAFFT, is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving, supporting, and empowering foster and adoptive children, their caregivers, and the entire family in crisis through a Christ-centered supportive network. Through years of working with hundreds of children and families, SAFFT discovered that families in crisis are part of a generational cycle passed down to children causing decades of family abuse, addiction, child neglect, homelessness, unemployment, and severe poverty. Since early 2009, SAFFT has successfully developed and implemented multiple programs of support at the ground level in Forsyth County Georgia and supports neighboring counties including Cherokee, Dawson, Hall, Gwinnett, and Fulton. The SAFFT model includes a supervised visitation center, scholarship programs for foster & adopted children, a resource closet, foster and adoptive gatherings including ongoing parent night out events, a domestic violence visitation & exchange program for victims, parenting classes, and a Christian mentoring program. SAFFT’s leadership strongly believes change begins with the entire community including the families in crisis, the children in foster and adoptive care, caregivers supporting the children, and organizations charged with protecting and serving the children and families.
To learn more about SAFFT and its Fall Corporate Building Campaign, visit https://safft.org/.
For more information, contact:
Executive Director, SAFFT