By Andria Barrios

Garrett and Delaney, two young and energetic siblings, were shuffled through the adoption system for years. Over the course of four years they received 14 different foster care placements, some lasting hours and some lasting months. They finally came to their permanent home this past summer with Lithia residents Kevin and Barbara Kemp.

After being married 11 years, this couple made the decision to adopt nearly a year ago after discovering they were unable to have their own children. They went through the process of parenting classes and home studies required by the state, and discovered a match quickly. The Kemps were open to almost any age, race or gender, and we were willing to take a sibling group of 2-3.

“The more open you are, the faster the match,” Kevin explained.

Eleven-year-old Garrett and 7-year-old Delaney first came to live with them on June 6 this year.

The Kemps are making an effort to become well acquainted by going on adventures as a family. “They had never held a fishing pole before, so I took them fishing,” Kemp explained “This weekend, we’re going camping.

They’re ready to experience the world,” he said of the children, who attend Stowers Elementary.

Kemp, who serves as assistant pastor at Jesus Church in Riverview, encourages families to get informed about the adoption process.

“The idea of providing a home for someone else is awesome,” he explained. “The first time they call you mom or dad is an experience unlike anything else.”

But he also warns never to go into the process lightly.

“You give up your free time and your life is not your own anymore. You do it for them, not for you,” Kevin said.

But the tremendous need makes a decision like this worth it. New children are added to the overburdened system daily, and Kemp said that if families are unable to adopt or receive foster children, they should consider becoming a guardian.

“There are some great kids just waiting, and their stories are heartbreaking. The whole system needs the support of the community,” he said.

Get informed and make a difference. For more information on state adoption, visit www.myflfamilies.com or www.adoptflorida.org.