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HOMOSASSA — Fourteen years ago, Linda Arrington was a caregiver for babies born in prison.
Wanting to help make a difference in a child’s life soon became heartache for her.
When Jasmine was only a day old, Arrington began taking care of her. She loved Jasmine as if she was her own.
Two weeks before her fifth birthday, Jasmine’s biological mother took her back into her own care and Arrington was devastated.
“We didn’t hear anything for three years until her sister Jasenia was born,” Arrington said. “Then when Jasenia was six months old, Jasmine’s mother decided to take her and join her with her sister. I was devastated.”
Arrington said she prayed and believed God would answer her prayers.
In October 2008, Arrington received a phone call from Hillsborough County stating they needed a home for Jasmine.
“That was my first word of her in five and a half years,” Arrington said. “I said of course I would give Jasmine a home. But there was a stipulation. She had three sisters that had to come with her.”
She was shocked when she heard the news; however, she believed, “God had answered prayer by multiplying it.”
Jasmine and Jasenia became Arrington’s daughters on Dec. 28, 2011, after they waited three years for their mother’s parental rights to be terminated. Due to Arrington being single, she knew that adopting all four girls would be hard. Therefore, her cousin adopted Destiny and her niece adopted Dharma.
Not only are they adopted by one family, but they see each other on a regular weekly basis. Every Wednesday night the whole family gets together for dinner.
Jasmine and two of her sisters joined 56 other children Saturday at the fourth annual Adoption Celebration Picnic at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa.
“This is a reminder of all the help and getting to the point of adoption,” Arrington said. “She is not the only little one out here without a family.”
The Homosassa Rotary Club asked Kids Central Inc. to invite children living in Citrus County or adopted from Citrus County to attend.
From face painting by clowns to fun houses to hamburgers on the grill, children were given the opportunity to connect with one another and celebrate their adoption.
“Because Kids Central is doing such a great job with connecting children with parents, we are celebrating those who are adopted for the year,” said Gordon Smith, Homosassa Rotary Club member. “This is the year-end party. It’s getting bigger every year. Space Walk from Williston even provides us with the bounce stuff as a contribution to this event.”
Smith began the picnic in Homosassa four years ago after moving from Maryland and seeing the process of matching work. Saturday was a day of celebrating the 2012 adoption year.
Kids Central Inc. and the Homosassa Rotary Club said thank you to parents.
“As a thank you to the families that have adopted children from foster care, this is our gift back to them with the help of the Rotary,” said Kathy Dentato, adoption case manager. “The families really enjoy this because it is a day out with their families. They get to enjoy the other families that are adopted. A lot of times they don’t get to see the other families. This is an impact on these kids forever. It totally changes their lives.”
However, she wants to remind the public that thousands of children are still in foster care.
“We have a great need for foster homes,” Dentato said. “They need someone who loves them.”
For more information on how to adopt or become a foster parent, contact Maria Buckley at 352-277-5860.
Chronicle reporter Eryn Worthington can be contacted at 352-563-5660, ext. 1334, or firstname.lastname@example.org.