In 2001, with the help of the Florida Department of Children and Families (“DCF”), Sarah Brown and her husband, Roosevelt, adopted two children, Shamika and Wallace. Not satisfied she had done enough to help children in our community in need of a family, with the help of the Children’s Home Society of Florida (“CHS”), Sarah proceeded to adopt Malachi in 2008. She did so even though her husband, Roosevelt, had died just months before Malachi’s adoption was finalized.
Fast forward to 2013. Shamika Brown (the eldest child in the Brown family) is now a 22 year-old woman pursuing a successful career with Wells Fargo on Miami Beach. In late February 2013, Shamika approached Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc. (“Our Kids”) seeking Our Kids’ help with a rather unique request. Shamika wanted to adopt her two younger brothers, Wallace and Malachi, because the three of them had lost their mother, Sarah Brown, to a massive heart attack on February 2. Shamika refused to be separated from Wallace, age 13, and Malachi, age 6, at a time when they needed each other the most. And she refused to accept that her brothers might end up back in foster care, when she was willing to adopt them and provide them with a loving home, nurturing and stability – just as their mother had done for them in the years before she passed.
Once Shamika came searching for help, Our Kids and CHS refused to let the family down. Our Kids immediately approached DCF to secure grief counseling for the family, to assign a social worker to work with the young boys on a daily basis, and to ensure the family continued to receive the financial support that they depended on for survival. CHS then secured pro bono counsel, Stack Fernandez Anderson and Harris, P.A., to handle the private adoption and to represent Shamika on the legal issues. It truly was a team effort.
With counsel at their side, and supporters from both Our Kids and CHS in attendance, on Friday, October 11, 2013, Judge Pedro Echarte entered the final judgment, enabling Shamika, Wallace and Malachi to stay together as a family – the family that their mother had assembled and nurtured with simple acts of love and kindness. At a time when tragic news involving children in protective care is too often in the news, it is wonderful to see Our Kids, CHS, DCF and the legal community, through a combined effort, achieve an outcome that makes all of us in Miami-Dade County proud.
Shamika, Wallance and Malachi: We wish you love and happiness in your reunited family. It is as your mother intended.