Guest post by Robert & Penny Eggert, Eckerd Community Alternatives Foster Parents from Pinellas County
Seven years ago our lives were changed in the most wonderful ways as our family walked into a court room and stood before a judge and promised to love and cherish each other as we became a forever family. It was National Adoption Day, November 16, 2007. A day of celebration that marked the official day of our adoption, but the journey really began months, even years before.
My husband, Bob, and I knew when we married in 2004 that we wanted our family to grow and that God would open doors to make that happen. Bob had a son, Jared, who was now in his 20’s and I had never been blessed with children. I had spent a lifetime working with children and always hoped for a family of my own. Now that opportunity seemed real and we felt led to connect with the State of Florida’s adoption services.
So many helpful, encouraging, unforgettable people have helped us through our journey. From MAPP classes and beyond we felt support each step of the way even when things weren’t easy. There was a time when it seemed we would never “match hearts” with the children that were meant to be ours, but God opens doors when you least expect it and led us to two beautiful boys in a surprising way.
Bob and I were attending the wedding of a friend and were introduced to Linda Rotz, who was also a friend of the bride and works for Eckerd Community Alternatives. As we chatted, Linda shared the story of several boys searching for their forever family. The more we talked, the more excited we became. We learned that there were four boys in the family, two living with another family, and when Linda asked where we lived it turned out that the other two brothers lived only five minutes from us. To this day, both of our families are committed to keeping all of the boys connected and they even attend school together now that they are in middle school.
Days and months have turned into years and I can’t believe how quickly the last 7 years has passed. They have been filled with the crazy day to day joy of family life and it’s been our honor to be Josh and Christian’s parents. As with any family, we have had our growing pains but even through the tough stuff, we know how blessed we are. Josh and Christian were four and five when we were first matched and are now 11 and 12, soon to be 12 and 13. They have taught us that love is born from the heart and when hearts are matched, it’s forever.
We owe such gratitude and thanks to all of the people who have helped and continue to support our family, especially those with Eckerd Community Alternatives and Adoption Related Services. Each year we look forward to the Annual Adoption Picnic sponsored by Eckerd and The St. Pete Exchange Club that celebrates families of adoption. We pause every year to look across the picnic we are enjoying and know that each family there was created in a uniquely beautiful way. We see familiar faces from Eckerd and The Exchange Club year after year, organizing crazy games of tug of war, face painting smiling faces, laughing over a hot BBQ grill as they prepare hundreds of hot dogs and hamburgers for hungry kids, and we know they are part of the footprints of our family.
We feel led to tell our story to anyone who will listen, not because we’re all that special or different, but because we know what a blessing Josh and Christian have been to us and there are other kids out their waiting to find their forever home. Our boys have brought joy, laughter, craziness, and occasionally frustration and tears to our family….but that’s the sweet part. That couldn’t happen unless we are family.