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Gathering of family service agencies helps untangle the adoption process

Published Jun. 14, 2015

ODESSA — When it was his turn at the microphone, Jabari Carter was clear and to the point.

"What all kids basically need is love," he said.

"They don't need Nikes or Jordans," Carter told the roughly 200 people gathered Saturday afternoon at Old McMicky's farm for Tampa Bay's Child Adoption Education Day.

Carter, 17, found a family in April. He was one of several speakers addressing the topic at the event, which gave anyone interested in adoption the opportunity to face time with 13 family service agencies that work across Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.

"The benefit is the education," said Colleen Comey, president of the Pinellas County Foster and Adoptive Parents Association. People don't always know how to go about the adoption process, she added.

Before numerous organizers spoke to the crowd about their experiences with adoption, they pitched a tent and stationed their booths beneath the shade to field any questions.

People in summer dresses and shoulder straps and baseball caps wandered through the area, their families close behind.

"I wish something like this was in place for me," said event organizer Krista Rosado, who worked with Eckerd Community Alternatives four years ago to find her and her husband's now 6-year-old son.

"He's incredibly athletic," Rosado said. "He just pretty much runs all the time, like a cat."

Lisa Fabian, who has lived in Land O'Lakes with her partner since 2013, showed up Saturday with their adopted daughter, Maya, 9.

Maya, whose name is partially inspired by the legendary poet Maya Angelou, "very much wants a sister," Fabian said. She would be a welcome addition to the three cats, one dog and one acting, dancing, pop-loving child who share the same roof, Fabian joked.

Fabian, a piano teacher, said Maya has taken to her favorite composer, Mozart, and already memorized 17 pieces of music.

Maybe someday soon, Maya and her sister will play sonatas together, Fabian said.

After an hour of chatting, people gathered beneath an awning to listen to the organizers detail different aspects of adoption.

Jeff Jansen and his wife, Nancy, who adopted three boys, shared their insight on how to stay strong during the waiting game.

"Get involved with support groups," he said. "The waiting will frustrate you. So get your frustrations out."

His wife agreed — but also stressed the value of patience.

"It's like giving birth. Once you get them in your arms, it was worth it."

Contact Zack Peterson at zpeterson@tampabay.com. Follow @zackpeterson918.