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6 Siblings Separated In Foster Care Flourish Together In Their New Forever Home.

The Johnson family huddle up for a hug outside of the court house.

The foster care system is full of children waiting to find a home where they feel safe and free to be themselves – but finding that home is often difficult. Children can end up temporarily staying with multiple families before they find the right one. The more siblings there are, the more these struggles increase. This is something six Tampa Bay children understand all too well.

For years, these 3 to 11-year-olds were bounced around from home to home. Worst of all, they ended up being separated, only adding to the anxiety and stress from their unstable living conditions. Not only did these children need to find their forever home, they so desperately wanted to be in the same one together. Thankfully, Dustin and Daniel stepped in just in time.

This Tampa couple, who have been married since 2020, discussed the topic of children just 30 minutes into their first date. Not only did they both want kids, they were willing and ready to put in the work needed to handle the challenges that come along with adoption – this included going to pre-adoption classes.

From the start, they made it clear to the adoption agency that they were open to taking in kids that have a tough time finding homes, including sibling groups.

“Daniel and I are both close with our siblings and we knew how much it would hurt to be separated from them when we were growing up,” Dustin said.

That’s why this loving couple was honored to finally give all six siblings the home they deserve: Reid, 11, Amiyah, 10, Izayah, 9, Kaelix, 7, Cade, 6, and Roslin, 3.

By the time Dustin and Daniel came into their lives, they were staying in five different foster homes, had been in the system for more than three years, and one of them had experienced over 25 different placements.

“We were going to get adopted by this one family but they were too abusive,” Amiyah said.

Although there was some pushback on keeping the children together, the Bay Area Legal Services did whatever it took to ensure they got the reunion they deserved.

“There was a lot of, ‘What if it doesn’t work?'” Jennifer Robinson, an attorney with Bay Area Legal Services said. “‘We’re taking a child away from what’s stable to put him with his siblings, but then what if it falls apart? We’ve caused more trauma.'”

Once they were living with Dustin and Daniel, there was a new hurdle to overcome: Helping the kids adjust to their new lives. At first, many of them experienced night terrors, a symptom of the post-traumatic stress disorder they got from witnessing domestic violence and drug abuse.

Plus, their eating habits weren’t healthy. Because they were used to not having enough food, when they did eat, they would often gorge themselves.

“When they first moved in, they were completely withdrawn and had major trust issues,” Dustin recalls. “It took months and months to build up that trust. Then the light started coming in.”

That light continues to grow brighter each day. As a family, they see a therapist once a week. Plus, four of the kids see their own therapists as well. Improvements in their mental health can be seen in the way they interact with one another and succeed in school. One kid went from failing to making all A’s and B’s!

Best of all, these sweet siblings finally get to be with each other.

“They’re almost co-dependent,” Dustin says. “We had the boys split up in two different rooms, and they came to us and asked if they could all be together.”

Now that summer is in full swing, the Johnson family is having a blast getting to know each other better through bike rides, fishing, and playing outside with sidewalk chalk. Plus, the kids get to experience a new favorite activity of theirs: going on vacations!

“The new thing they’re excited about is taking vacations,” Dustin said. “They love vacations now, but hotels used to be a trigger because they’ve lived in hotels.”

It wasn’t easy for the Johnsons to get to where they are today, but the struggles they faced to get these six kids in their home was more than worth it. They’re happy and safe now, something that will continue to make a positive difference in each of their lives.

“We all just had been waiting for somebody to give us a home, so we could be together,” Amiyah said. “We all feel really happy to be with each other since it’s been a long time.”

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here!

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