Lake County, Florida – The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) honored David and Melanie Stimmell as Angels in Adoption™ at an awards ceremony on October 6 and gala on October 7 in Washington, D.C.
The Stimmell family was honored for their dedication and service to the care of siblings. Driven by a divine calling to care for orphans, the Stimmells became a licensed foster family in Lake County 2001. In 2011, two brothers came to stay for the weekend and have never left. Biological parents to four children (three boys and one girl), they know how important it is to keep brothers and sisters together and how great the need is for families who can care for siblings.
“We are blessed to have the space and means to care for these children. To say the house is full, is an understatement; however, we have an amazing support system of friends, family and church family who give us the strength and support as needed,” said David Stimmell.
Around Christmas 2011, the Stimmells learned of a third brother. They relentlessly sought for his placement in their home and successfully reunited the three brothers before the holiday. The mother of the boys gave birth to two more little boys, and the Stimmells folded them into their family, bringing the total count of children to nine. As each of the boys became available for adoption, the Stimmells, as a family, sat down together and decided on adoption.
“When the first boys became available for adoption, David and I asked ourselves, ‘If we are really doing this for the right reasons, how can we not adopt these brothers?’” shared Melanie. “For two weeks, David and I prayed on the decision. Every day we opened our Bible and found a passage urging us to adopt. And that’s how our family was built,” said Melanie.
The story doesn’t end there. Eighteen months ago, the Stimmells received word of the birth of a sixth sibling. This time it was a little girl. Once again, the Stimmells opened their hearts and home. Lily joined her new family and was recently adopted in October 2015. Ten children now fill their home and their lives.
“It takes our whole family,” their 22-year-old son, Caleb, said. “This is something that everyone participates in and that we are all involved in. Even the adoption was something that all of us as a family participated in and talked about, and said, ‘This is what we want, and what we want to do for the rest of our lives.’”
“My parents are some of the most selfless people,” he added. “They truly give, give and give until there is nothing left, and I wish I was more like that.”
The Angels in Adoption™ Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 150 “Angels” were honored through the Angels in Adoption™ program.
“The Angels in Adoption™ Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,200 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI. “Members of Congress are then able to use their new experiential understanding of these issues to create policy improvements that better support these children and the families that open their hearts and homes to them.”
With more than 150 Angels from around the country, Melanie and David traveled to Washington D.C. for the Angels in Adoption award ceremony and gala. Spending two days alone in D.C., the Stimmells took the opportunity to get away for the weekend.
“The story of the Stimmells is amazing, and they truly deserve to be named Angels in Adoptions. It is important for resource families to be recognized publicly for the work they do,” said Kids Central CEO, John Cooper. “Foster and adoptive parents are the backbone of the foster care system. Without them, agencies like Kids Central wouldn’t be able to care for the most vulnerable. We are proud to have such amazing resource families and are always in need of more families like the Stimmells. Not in the sense that they are willing to adopt six children, but in the sense that they are called to care for these children.”
The Angels in Adoption™ Program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.
“As a final thought, I urge you to find a family in your community, in your church, and spoil them. Find an adoptive or foster family and make their life easier,” Melanie pressed. “They may not need help when you ask, but they will, and you should be there when they do.”
Kids Central is the nonprofit, lead agency charged by the State of Florida to care for the abuse, neglected, and abandoned children in Circuit 5-Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties.
CCAI is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes through adoption.