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Meet the Burgett Family!

Akisha and Stephen Burgett had long wanted to adopt, and they were well aware of the many U.S. foster children awaiting permanent homes. Two additional factors influenced their decision to create a family through adoption. “We had experiences seeing family members go through difficulties they should not have had to go through, and we knew family members who had adopted children.”

The Burgett’s specifically wanted to adopt school-aged children because they knew that this population was frequently overlooked.

Working first with Arizona's Children in Phoenix, Arizona, and second with Barker Adoption Agency in Maryland, the Burgett’s have adopted two beautiful daughters. First came Aaliyah, whom they adopted at age 5, after she had been in foster care for three years. Several years later, they adopted Neveah at age 9. This little girl had been in foster care on and off for seven years.

Akisha and Stephen exude love and pride when asked to describe their daughters. Now age 13, Aaliyah is “smart, loving, occasionally silly, and very independent.” Many interests beckon Aaliyah: mythology, computer coding, science, and reading. She also participates in soccer and dance. Younger daughter Neveah, age 11, is “kind, loving and also sometimes silly.” She enjoys gymnastics, reading, music, and is interested in anything and everything animal-related.

Aaliyah and Neveah have made great strides in overcoming the loss and trauma that earmarked most of their earlier years. They are assisted by mental health counseling, medical services, and educational supports. “These services have allowed us to get our children their medications and help them work through the issues surrounding their placement in foster care and subsequent adoption.”

Asked about the obstacles they have overcome in their adoption journey, the Burgett’s note several. Aided by counselors, Akisha and Stephen have guided their girls to adjust their thinking to recognize the importance of school and of following rules. Aaliyah and Neveah have also had to accept that, due to circumstances beyond their parents’ control, they had to discontinue visits or contacts with their birth siblings. Mom reports, “Our daughters have had to endure so many losses and disappointments. They are learning to manage their emotions and to address problems more rationally. “

Despite all the challenges, Akisha and Stephen are pleased with the outcomes of their adoption efforts and proud of the progress and gains their daughters have been making.

The couple thanks members of Congress for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit, which helped them to move to a new location and to take a couple of much needed family vacations to places like Disneyland and Universal Studios in Orlando. If they could offer one suggestion for improvement, Akisha and Stephen would ask policymakers to institute better training for child welfare personnel to prevent children from repeatedly being returned to biological families who further endanger and abuse them.