Florida Child Advocate Attorney: Adopted at 26, Foster Child Finally Finds his Forever Family
The life of Florida foster child Tyrone Burns Smith could have gone any number of ways. Shuttled between more than a dozen foster and group homes, he always hoped to find his forever family. Though he wasn’t the victim of foster child abuse, being moved about left Burns Smith worried he’d never find his forever home.
But he did. At 15, he was placed with Ann Marie and Peter Smith, foster parents to Tyrone’s two siblings. Then, earlier this year, Burns Smith, now 26, finally found what he was ultimately looking for: his forever family. The man, who works as a mechanic for Disney in Central Florida, was legally adopted by the Smith family. He earned their love early on and now has their name.
To be sure, this is a rare case. Tyrone’s life could have gone down any number of paths, and justifiably so. His mother was a prostitute with substance abuse problems. His own life was spent in foster care. Though he wanted to live with the Smiths, between his siblings and kids of their own, they didn’t have the space to legally foster Tyrone. He would visit each weekend, and cry when he had to leave.
Foster homes and group homes also had taken their toll. Tyrone had emotional issues common to many long-term foster children. Though arguments ensued, a session between Tyrone, the family, and a caseworker smoothed the anger and let Tyrone know their home was his – if he wanted it.
Soon, he enrolled in technical school paid for in part by a state independent-living program. He landed the Disney job and is engaged to be married. When they all finally agreed to a formal adoption, a local attorney set up a fund to cover the $3,000 in fees and court costs. When the adoption was held, the judge cried at the ceremony.
Tyrone had waited 22 years – or 8,030 days — to be adopted by his forever family. While countless thousands of other kids are in foster homes or group homes, Tyrone’s story gives hope that forever families are out there – and there is happiness to be found at the end of the journey.