Impact Story: Benji’s Adoption Story
Benji* was placed in Louis* and Melanie* Merino’s home when he was five months old due to neglect. Over the course of a year and a half, Louis and Melanie bonded with Benji and loved him with all their heart. The news came that Benji’s mother was possibly going to terminate her parental rights. Because the fost-adopt process can be lengthy, Louis and Melanie decided to start the process to adopt Benji from foster care.
As Louis and Melanie waited to hear if Benji’s mother was going to terminate parental rights, the couple made the personal decision to proceed with a divorce. Louis and Melanie remained close friends but their marriage had come to a mutual end and they determined it would be best to uncouple. The Merinos* approached their AFS caseworker to determine the best next steps as the couple loved Benji and wanted to move forward with adopting him as co-parents.
The County determined that Melanie should move forward with a single-parent adoption. Louis would be able to stay in Benji’s and Melanie’s lives as an informal “co-parent.” Louis agreed this would be a positive outcome for all three family members and in April 2021, Melanie legally adopted Benji with Louis in the courtroom for support.
At AFS, our staff acknowledges that families are diverse and human. We support clients through every step of their foster, adoption and behavioral health journey. If you’re interested in fostering or adopting, click here.
*Names changed to protect identities