Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Adopted teen finds new role, new home along with three brothers

LAND O'LAKES — She bathed them, fed them, kept them in line.

When someone offered to adopt her separately, she declined. She and her three brothers were a family.

Since they were taken from their biological mother four years ago, Justice, now 14, has been the family's core.

On Friday, she and her brothers — Jeremy, 13, Randy, 11 and Max, 8 — became the adoptive children of a Land O'Lakes family.

This is what Justice wanted.

It means she gets her own room, gets time alone, gets to take care of herself.

But it also means turning over a role she's played for years.

"We never wanted her to feel like she's responsible for her brothers, because she's not anymore," said adoptive mother Lesley McGuills.

"We are."

• • •

Lesley McGuill, 35, and her husband, Danny, 44, couldn't have children, so they decided to look into adoption.

They met Justice and Jeremy in 2011 at an event sponsored by Eckerd Community Alternatives, a child welfare agency.

They felt an immediate connection but knew they lacked space in their three-bedroom St. Petersburg home. As they looked for a bigger house, Lesley said, she pictured which rooms would go to Justice and her brothers.

The McGuills moved to Land O'Lakes early this year and emailed Eckerd soon after.

"There was never any hesitation on our part," Danny said.

The boys seemed open to them immediately. They spent weekends together and went to a Japanese steak house.

Justice took longer to come around. But once she saw her brothers happy, Danny said, she agreed.

The children have lived with the McGuills since June, but parents and children are still learning each other.

The kids are scarred, developmentally and physically, by abuse and years of constant upheaval, the McGuills said. They need attention and space.

Max loves to dance. Jeremy makes rubber band bracelets and give them to his dad. Randy buries his nose in Nintendo and dreams of taking over Apple.

Justice is the easiest. Sometimes they check with her before making parenting decisions. They want her to know her opinion matters. Usually, she agrees.

"You guys are doing it right," she tells them.

• • •

The children sat around a semicircular table Friday in Judge Tom Ramsberger's courtroom.

A clerk asked Danny and Lesley, who stood at the end of the table, a series of questions:

Did you want to be parents? Do you have a stable marriage? Would you support children as they grew to adulthood?

And, in a few words, why did they want to adopt?

"Because I love them," Lesley said.

Afterward, Danny and Lesley kissed. Danny's mother cried.

Jeremy fist-bumped a new cousin. Justice was quiet, slipping up to the front where the family gathered for a picture.

She slid in next to Lesley, winding her arm behind her back.

Lesley leaned over and kissed the side of her head.

"You're ours now," Lesley said.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at (727)-893-8804 or On Twitter: @clairelwiseman.

Adopted teen finds new role, new home along with three brothers 11/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics


     Winner of the week

    Peter Antonacci. Gov. Rick Scott tapped his go-to utility player to lead his Florida job recruiting agency, Enterprise Florida, having previously picked him for his general counsel, to lead the South Florida Water Management District and to serve as Palm Beach state …

  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 19: A peregrina spends the whole day under the weather, and part of the day under the table


    Day 19: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente: 25.4 km, 7.5 hours (Total for Days 1-19 = 454 km (282 miles)

    This list pretty much sums up my day:

    Eat two bananas

    Walk 13.1 kilometers


    Walk 6.2 kilometers


    Eat half an apple

    Walk 6.1 kilometers

    Crash< …

  3. Storm routs Cleveland


    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  4. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  5. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.