By Anthony Siegrist
My name is Anthony. I’m 16 and I live in Clearwater, Florida with my moms and three siblings. I was adopted by my parents when I was 13 years old after having spent four years in foster care.
I heard about the bill that the Florida legislature is now considering that would allow child placing agencies—including those who work with children in the foster care system—to refuse to place children with families if the agencies have religious objections to those families, regardless of the needs of the child.
This bill could have prevented me from having the family I have today had it been in effect when I needed a family.
I went into foster care when I was 8 years old because of my biological mother’s addiction to drugs. When her parental rights were terminated a few years later, there was no family available to adopt me. When I was 12, my case manager told me that there was a couple that wanted to adopt me. When she told me who it was, I couldn’t believe it!
Before I was in foster care, I had been friends with their son Peyton and used to go over to his house all the time. Things were not great in my own family, so Peyton’s moms let me hang out a lot at their house, and they became like a substitute family for me. Even though four years had passed since I had seen them, I remembered Peyton and his moms and how it always felt really good and safe to be at their house. It felt like home.
I later learned that the way my moms found out that I was in foster care and in need of a family was that they saw my picture on a website about kids in foster care who were waiting for families to adopt them. When they saw my picture, they said, “That’s our Anthony! We need to go get him!” It’s amazing to me that life brought me back full circle to this family I had loved as a young child.
Being adopted and becoming a permanent member of this family has been the greatest gift of my life. No family is perfect for all kids, but my family is the perfect family for me. I already had a connection with them—I didn’t have to go to a strange place with people I didn’t know and wouldn’t feel comfortable with. And they lived in the same area where I had been living while in foster care, so I was able to stay at my same school and keep my friends. And I really love my parents. They are amazing people. My moms are all about family. And they always look out for me. A lot of my life, I was around iffy people. Now I’m surrounded by great people all the time who just encourage me to do my best and change the world for the better.
I am so thankful that this proposed law didn’t exist when I was waiting for a family to adopt me. I could have been denied the parents that I was clearly meant to have.
Allowing agencies to put their own interests above the needs of the children in their care is so cruel that I can’t understand how my state’s leaders are even considering it. I hope that those voting on this bill will consider my story before they vote, and I beg of them not to do this to kids in foster care.