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Meet the Paolo Family!

Our children have a lot of needs, and we have a lot of children!

By opening their hearts and home to children of different ethnicities and abilities, Melanie and Vincenzo (Vinny) Paolo have created a loving family.  They started by adopting Jamiah and Jamari, a young sister and brother, at ages 5 and 4. Once these two were settled, the Paolo’s decided to again expand their family. They became the foster parents to 5-week-old Makayla, and 18 months later, her newborn baby brother Giovanni joined the household. The Paolo’s were able to adopt both of these children shortly afterward.  And then, a few years later, they adopted baby Anthony at age 1. Like Giovani, Anthony had been with the Paolo’s on a foster basis since his birth.

The five Paolo youngsters have diverse interests and abilities, but they also have shared personality traits. All are outgoing, friendly, and well-liked by teachers and peers.  

The two girls – Jamiah, now age 11, and Makayla, age 6 – both love to learn and they perform very well at school. As the oldest, Jamiah sometimes takes on a motherly tone with her younger siblings. Makayla participates in gymnastics, and both girls are involved in Poms. 

All three boys – Jamari, age 10, Giovanni, age 5, and Anthony, age 2 – love to be active. Jamari enjoys swimming, bike riding, and skateboarding. Giovanni loves to demonstrate his recently acquired bike-riding skills. Like many toddlers, Anthony is “extremely active,” showing clear preferences for what he likes. Each boy has struggled with developmental delay or learning difficulties. Jamari has become more successful at school since receiving an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan). Giovanni is in Special Education and receives speech and occupational therapies. Initially predicted to never walk or talk, he has surpassed all expectations. Anthony attends Birth to Three and Early Head Start, and he also receives speech and occupational therapies.

Adoptive parenting has challenged Melanie and Vinny to find services for a child with multiple mental health issues, to care for babies with fragile medical conditions, and to address developmental delays resulting from prenatal substance exposure. Melanie writes, “Life isn't easy! Our children have a lot of needs, and we have a lot of children! We see many doctors, therapists, and specialists.

Several factors help the Paolo’s to meet their parental responsibilities. First, the couple has chosen to have Melanie be an at-home mom. Second, foster and adoptive families in the community are extremely supportive. Third, the Paolo’s rely upon extended family members for encouragement and help. “Our children have great relationships with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.”

The Paolo’s initiated their venture into foster care and adoption with Saint A’s, an agency they found extremely supportive. They have been less pleased with post adoption services, observing, “We feel like once we adopted, our book was closed, and no help was available. It wasn't until we moved to Washington County that county services were even an option.” Based on their experiences, the Paolo’s respectfully ask policymakers to make sure that post adoption services, specifically in the area of mental health, are available everywhere. 

Although the process may have had flaws, Melanie and Vinny appreciate the end results. “Adoption created our forever family. We are beyond blessed.”