A couple went to virtual lengths last month to adopt their 2-year-old foster daughter during the coronavirus pandemic.
Evan and Cayela Moody of Jacksonville, Florida, who have four biological children, had been caring for Isla since 2018. The toddler was just seven days old when she came to live with the family.
“Biologically, we’re not related to Isla at all,” Evan Moody told Fox 30. “But yes, there was an immediate connection there.”
The Moodys first submitted an application to adopt Isla in February. But as Florida began ramping up efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Duval County Courthouse shuttered, putting Isla’s adoption process in limbo.
“We knew in February that it was pretty much a certainty that she was going to be with us forever,” Evan Moody told “Good Morning America” in a Friday interview. “But the actual adoption ceremony itself and decree was on hold indefinitely at that point.”
Still, the family didn’t give up hope. After six weeks, the courthouse resumed business, and Isla’s adoption hearing was once again back on track ― albeit via Zoom.
By the time Isla was adopted on April 30, she’d been in the foster care system for 700 days.
The spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has created major challenges for expectant parents who are hoping to form families through surrogacy, foster care and adoption.
“Basically, everything is on pause until things are back to normal,” Trey Rabun, a services supervisor at the Seattle-based foster care agency Amara, told The New York Times April 1. “We know abuse and neglect happen more in high-stress situations.”
Ongoing lockdowns have made virtual adoption hearings more commonplace. Earlier this week, Maria and John Clark of North Boston, New York, were able to adopt two 2-year-old girls, Aurora and Laila, via Skype. Similarly, Chris More and Anthony Lach of Orlando, Florida, held an adoption ceremony for their four-month-old son Parker over Zoom.
Though the Moodys were eager to celebrate the news, social distance guidelines rendered it impossible to host a formal party. Instead, members of Fostering Hope, a national foster care support group, delighted Isla by decorating their cars with balloons and staging a drive-by parade.
“Whether or not she had understanding at all, or to what degree she understood what was going on, we’ll be able to look back at that day and say, ‘You were really loved by a lot of people,’” Evan Moody said. “And yeah, you were adopted during a pandemic and that was super weird, but that being said, you didn’t just have a party, you had a parade.”
Watch a clip of the Moody family’s “Good Morning America” appearance below.
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