One Family In Ocala Proudly Celebrates National Adoption Month
Published November 30th, 2013
OCALA - While many come home for the holidays, some are getting a home for the holidays. November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month. The month sheds light to all kinds of adoption-related issues, but one particular focus is the adoption of children currently in foster care. However, one family came to be, thanks to a local program.
In Marion County alone, there are almost 600 children who are being treated for abuse and neglect, according to Nicole Pulcini Mason, the Director of Community Affairs for Kids Central. "Every child--no matter their age, their race, their background, disabilities that they have--all need a forever loving home; someone who can nurture and teach them not only how to love others but how to love themselves," Mason said.
And that's exactly what Chris and Kelli Potenza are doing. They got inspired after attending a Kids Central adoption event. "I was lucky because I was adopted at a very young age,” Lance Potenza their oldest said. The Potenza's took Lance in, putting him out of foster care.
Four years later, they found Lance's biological brother Michael and decided to adopt him too. “It definitely wasn't a hard decision. No... Michael was placed in front of us by something higher than us. It was God who did that." With autism, Michael's life in foster care hasn't been an easy one. "I got adopted, then I got sent back. I went through 5 or 6 foster homes," Michael Potenza said.
But it didn't stop there. The Potenza's are currently working on adopting a fourth child, Nathaniel. And at the very young age of 10, he knows the meaning of family. "[Family is] having someone to take care of me when I am feeling sick or when I’m feeling sad," Nathaniel Potenza said.
The Potenza bunch will soon be a family of 6. All with the help of organizations in Ocala like Kids Central and Youth & Family Alternatives which work together to find homes for abused, neglected, and abandoned children. "It's really important to open your heart, these children have amazing stories, they are amazing people and they shouldn't be overlooked. They should be cherished. And adopting even an older kid, there is so much they haven't been able to do because of the situations that they come from," Vanessa Ward Adoption Supervisor for Youth & Family Alternatives said.
While some of these children believe they'll never have a family. "Then when I heard I had a special family for me, I was overjoyed. When I first met them, I remember thinking to myself, ‘I have someone to take care of me now,’" Jessica Potenza said. Some are lucky enough to get one, for the rest of their lives.
For the holidays, Kids Central and Youth & Family Alternatives hope to have 20 kids leave the foster care system and get adopted in Marion County.
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