TAVARES, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - It was a moment of pure joy for one family in Central Florida. The Stimmell Family adopted their sixth child, and in doing so, kept all six siblings who otherwise would have ended up in separate homes together.
Melanie and David Stimmell had four children of their own, before they began adopting foster children over a decade ago. "This isn't something that you wake up and decide you're going to do. God kind of puts it on your heart, and you have to do what you're told. It's been a great lesson in our family, because our family has to be involved from the oldest ones all the way down," said David.
For this Lake County family, it's a labor of love. "It's crazy, lots of lunches, lots of food, lots of laundry -- we have three, four loads always going -- but we've been blessed to have lots of people in our life help us with those things," Melanie added.
Despite their large family, the Stimmells say they will continue to foster children, to try and help other kids find their forever homes.
Around 1,400 children in Lake, Sumter, Marion, Hernando and Citrus counties have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. Research has shown that when a child whose case is being heard in dependency court is assigned to a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, they spend less time in foster care and do better in school.
To volunteer for the Guardian ad Litem program, participants must be aged 21 years or older, complete the pre-service training program, be cleared of any serious criminal history via a level II criminal background check and complete 30 hours of pre-service training. On average, volunteers spend 5-10 hours a month on a case, and most cases last 10 months. Volunteers work as part of a team, including a volunteer supervisor and program attorney.
To find out upcoming events and training opportunities in your area, visit www.guardianadlitem5.org, call Diana Hollwedel at 352-812-6971 or email - firstname.lastname@example.org
About National Adoption Month
November is National Adoption Month, a Children's Bureau initiative that brings attention to youth waiting for permanent families. For more information, visit www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/.