Our award recipients truly represent family care and belonging. Their story together began in 2002, when, as many good stories start, a girl met a boy and started dating. Before they were even married they were talking about adoption. You see, as a little girl, the future mom in this story saw a 15 passenger van. She quickly decided that with 15 seats, she and her future husband could adopt 13 kids. They haven’t found 13 kids yet but soon after their wedding they got started filling that van!
J. was the first to arrive and be adopted. It didn’t matter that he was considered special needs. With J., these parents quickly realized they were gaining a whole extended family as well. He has 4 siblings and even after 8 years they are all still connected in some form or another with all of them.
C. found this family after being placed with them in respite care. Within two months she was with them full-time and on her way to be adopted. She is currently thriving as a young adult and living on her own.
After their experience with J. and C., this mom and dad thought long and hard about taking in more kids. The realized they could be a temporary safe place to foster children in foster care while child welfare officials decided what was going to happen in their future.
After the first placement disrupted though, they realized their sweet spot was kids looking to be adopted not just fostered; especially kids that struggle with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Into their lives hopped a 17-1/2 year-old young lady who is autistic and non-verbal. And I say, I mean literally hopped! When she is happy she hops around the house and her giggles ring. It is not lost on us that this full of life teen almost aged out of foster care at 18 without an adoptive family of her own before she met this family.
Through their faith community, HIll City Church, our winning couple learned about Virginia's Kids Belong and started watching I Belong Project videos. They quickly found their next addition to that 15 passenger van.
To hear them tell it, “A 12-year-old walked into our lives and settled in like he was always meant to be here. We now have a house with 3 kids at home all of whom have autism and other diagnoses but that doesn’t matter. Kids are kids and we love them no matter what.”
This family enjoys doing things together as a family and believes that every child deserves a loving home. They believe adoptive parents should play with their children, give them opportunities and support, set safe boundaries, and love unconditionally. They believe adoptive parents have the job of healing their children and giving them a better start in life.
Our selection committee chose this family because they exemplify the phrase "Family Means Care and Belonging" and have built their family on love and belonging. They both organically make everyone feel welcome and accepted. They make sure their children know they are loved, cherished, wanted, and that they belong.
We are thrilled to present our inaugural 2021 Family Means Care and Belonging Award to a wonderful and deserving family. Congratulations to Jim and Katie Toth!