Bethany Elias is on staff at Place of Hope as a Licensing and Family Support Specialist on the Treasure Coast. I asked her some questions about her family’s recent adoption and she was thrilled to share their story!

What made you and your husband decide to become foster parents?

As far as I can remember, I have always had a heart for helping people. My mom loves to share the story about when I was young (8-10 years old), we went to Washington, DC in the winter and I was obsessed with wanting to feed all the homeless people and give them hot chocolate. My mom let me do it once or twice but had to slow me down; fast forward to adult life! I have a degree in social work and have worked in the field directly with hurting children. Then when we moved to Florida, almost three years ago, we got plugged into our church (Christ Fellowship) and made friends with families who were going to become foster parents. At that time my husband watched them navigate life with children of their own and felt with the support of this community we had around us we could [become foster parents] too.

How long have you been foster parents?

We have been foster parents for two years. Averyhana was our second foster child and we’ve done respite care while she’s been with us as well.

How did Averyhana come to you?

Averyhana came to us on January 1, 2015. She was five weeks old. She was discharged from the hospital while we had another child who was about to go to his grandma in a few days. Then we were traveling for Christmas so another foster friend of ours agreed to take her while we traveled and she brought her to us on New Year’s Day.

How long was she in your care before you adopted her?

561 days.

How old is Averyhana?

She is now 20 months.

What are the ages of your other children?

Camryn is 11, Owen is 8, and Joshua is 5.

When did you know that you wanted to adopt Averyhana?

We did not begin our journey with any plans to adopt. With three biological children we did not feel led to adopt but instead wanted to keep our doors open for as many children and families as we could help. It was about seven months into having her that her case manager knew what direction things were headed and asked us THE question, “Will you adopt her?” I told her that Brian and I needed to discuss it further and pray about it. It wasn’t really in our plan but of course we have grown to love her. At the next visit with the case manager she asked again and this time she said, “It’s totally ok if you don’t want to adopt her but we’ll start looking at placing her in a pre-adoptive home.” It was at that moment that my heart felt an overwhelming sense of love and protection over MY girl. Mine and Brian’s reply to that statement was “no you won’t! She’ll stay here and we will adopt her.” Brian and I could not fathom letting her go to another family other than the one and only family she’s ever known. If she’s not going back to mom, we made the commitment to her and it is our privilege to spend the rest of our lives together.

How has being a foster parent and now adoptive parent changed/impacted you? Your family?

It has opened our eyes to the tremendous need right in our own community. It has given us exposure to great friends, other families, and a community of people who are fulfilling the scripture verse, James 1:27. It has touched the lives of our biological children and given them a new perspective. We are blessed beyond measure with a beautiful child and have a peace of mind that we are privileged to care for one of God’s children who may have otherwise been exposed to a turbulent childhood.

Learn more about how you can become a foster parent: Foster Process & Requirements.