...And Baby Makes Eight
Family Provides Special Needs Children with a ‘Forever Home’
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There may be a two-seat Ferrari in James Raffield’s future, but for the time being the Milton resident is perfectly content behind the wheel of his eight-passenger vehicle.
Raffield, who has an infectious laugh and quick wit, and his wife, Julie, are the proud parents of two boys — one 7 and the other 9. Like most families, the day-to-day hustle and bustle keeps them busy, whether it’s preparing breakfast, rushing to get ready for school, planning an outing to the Gulfarium or getting ready for bed.
But for the Raffields, a family of four wasn’t a destination. You see, James and Julie had known for quite some time that they wanted to adopt, and after all the t’s were crossed and i’s dotted on June 2 in front of a local judge, the Raffield family officially grew by three. James and Julie were now the proud parents of a 2-year-old, two 7-year-olds and two 9-year-olds.
“When we talked about children, we knew we wanted to have our own, but we also knew we wanted to adopt,” James said. “There’s so many children out there that need to be adopted.”
“We went in wanting to adopt a single girl,” he added.
Well, we see how that worked out, but that’s perfectly fine by James and Julie, who were matched with their new children back in May of 2015. Later that month, the Raffields met the kids for the first time at a park.
“It just felt right,” James recalls of their initial meeting.
In June 2105, the three children moved into the Raffields’ home on a foster/legal risk basis. Over the next year, the Raffields and their children patiently waited for the adoption process to play out ahead of the June 2 finalization.
Although it had taken quite a bit of time to get there, James said he and Julie, as well as the kids, were calm as they stood before the judge.
“We had anticipated this for so long,” he said. “The kids were all excited.”
While the Raffield family may have just expanded from four to seven, there is another adoption in the works. Once finalized, the Raffields will officially welcome a 7-month-old baby to the family.
It’s been years since James and Julie have had to change diapers, but James said he’s an old pro when it comes to changing a baby. For James, it’s the baby spit-up, not the diapers, that has him a bit uneasy.
Although the Raffields knew they wanted to adopt early on, they had no idea where to even begin the process.
In the state of Florida, there are four types of adoption: entity adoption (an agency or intermediary facilitated adoption), step-parent adoption, close relative and the adult adoption, according to adoption information found at floridabar.org.