Melissa (Mo) and Jara knew there was something special about one another from the day they met. Mo survived a childhood in foster care having been told at the age of 8 she would never be adopted and Jara was raised in a family where adoption was part of how family was built. Jara knew she wanted to adopt from the time she was a child and Mo wanted nothing more than to give her family the love and security that she never experienced. Both knew that being parents of children not born to them was a shared dream. Advocacy was at their core.
What does it mean to be an advocate? Jara and Mo had a taste of it when meeting the two children who would become their children: a brother and sister, 9 and 11 years old, who were living in foster care, enduring years of movement from one home to the next.
The Paths for Families team led Jara and Mo through a process to explore their own emotions and experiences, making sure they had all the information, tools, and support needed to successfully adopt and raise their children. The family’s caseworker, Allison, was by their side since their decision to adopt—they lovingly describe her as a true teacher, an ally, and an advocate for the family.
From the very beginning, Jara and Mo have advocated to give their children agency to become the people they want to be. The couple are motivated to show their children that their voices are not just heard, but deeply valued. At such a young age they have been through so much and finally being given the space to take actions for themselves is empowering.
For the past two years, Jara and Mo have consistently attended Paths for Families’ weekly Parent’s Support Group. The peer connection and support offered by the group helps them better understand and advocate for their children, while also helping them teach their kids how to advocate for themselves.
During the pandemic, Jara & Mo took advantage of the opportunity to truly become a family. From an ice-cream stand built and run by the kids to hands-on gardening projects, themed music nights, and beyond, they brought fun activities to engage their minds and bountiful imaginations. They made the best out of a very challenging time, building healthy attachment and showing their children consistent parental love and belonging.
Families need advocates to support them, strengthen them, and be at their side through the hardest and best of times. Jara and Mo’s family has been shaped by their past experiences and their desire to make a difference and be powerful advocates for children in need. While not everyone can adopt a child themselves, everyone can help. By contributing to Paths for Families, YOU are stepping up to be an advocate for the children and families who need it the most. Together we can save lives and change futures.