Adoption by Zoom is family’s ‘finalizing’
Process makes couple parents to siblings they’ve been fostering
The kitchen in Nathan and Alysha Jackson’s Clermont home is used for more than cooking. It doubled as the backdrop for Lake County’s first Zoom adoption ceremony.
Nathan, 28, and Alysha, 29, went from not having any children to getting two in just a matter of hours. They have been fostering a 1- and 2-year-old brother and sister for 13 months before getting the green light for adoption this month.
The couple never expected to become the adoptive parents of Evangeline Eloie Maria Jackson and Elias Nicolas Killian Jackson because the main priority of foster care is reuniting the children with their families, they said.
“It was overwhelming because it was finally happening, we’re finally finalizing this,” Alysha said. “And just feeling so supported by our friends and family, that was a really incredible feeling. And thinking, ‘Wow, after this, our kids
are ours forever.’”
What made this adoption extra special, however, was finalizing it over Zoom with their friends and family as witnesses on Thursday, April 23. The couple was even asked by the presiding judge to raise their right hands to be sworn in — in the middle of their kitchen.
“They brought the judge on and asked us the questions and had us raise our right hand from our kitchen,” Nathan and Alysha said together finishing each other’s sentences in a chatroom interview. “And our kids were stuffing blueberries in their mouth while we’re swearing ourselves in. A Zoom call with a 1and 2-year-old is crazy, so we just had a lot of snacks for them, keeping them busy.”
While Evangeline and Elias were busy eating blueberries, Nathan and Alysha were interacting with their friends and family from Indiana who wouldn’t have been able to attend had the adoption ceremony been held in a Florida courthouse.
“We don’t have any family in Florida. We were actually able to have our entire family attend, which is huge – that would not have happened if we had gotten this done at the courthouse,” Alysha said. “It was really, really special to have everyone there to see our friends and family’s faces pop up and clap.”
The Jacksons adopted Evangeline and Elias from Kids Central, Inc., an adoption agency in Central Florida that “recruits, trains, licenses and supports foster parents and children who have suffered abuse, abandonment and neglect,” according to its website.
Thomas Ranew, attorney for Kids Central, said it was great to see so many people cheering on the adoptive parents — even Judge Richard Singletary took the time to show off his grandchildren during the call.
“It’s just a really swell time,” Ranew said. “This Zoom business is not as personal as normal, but actually it allows a lot more people to participate.”
Another plus for Zoom adoption ceremonies is the lack of time it takes to set up, Ranew said. Upon filing, adoptive parents don’t need to wait two months or two years — it can all happen in two days.
“In Sumter, I filed a case electronically on Friday morning at about 9 o’clock. At 10 o’clock, I received a notification that it was assigned a case number,” Ranew said. “At 10:30, I got a call from a judge saying, ‘Wanna do it at 11?’”
More than 1,600 kids in Central Florida are in crisis every day, according to Kids Central, and the Jacksons encourage families to look into fostering children, especially in this time of need.
“We have over 400 kids available for adoption right now,” Ranew said. “We just can’t find enough people to adopt them.”
The Jacksons’ Zoom adoption ceremony was the first for Lake County, Ranew said, but there are several on the books for the coming weeks. There have been several Zoom ceremonies in Sumter County as well.
Nathan and Alysha Jackson finalized the adoption of two children Thursday in Lake County’s firstever Zoom adoption ceremony.