London family’s holiday made special with newly-adopted daughters
By Audrey Ingram
He has an “old soul” and she a “younger heart” — and this holiday season, the foster parents’ not-so-traditional family is growing further through the adoption of two little girls.
Josh and Cara Skaggs, owners of J&J Towing in London, met in 2004 and married in 2009. Cara had four grown children at the time, the oldest only a few years younger than Josh.
“I’ve stopped trying to figure it out,” a laughing Cara Skaggs said about the relationship.
When the couple married, they knew she couldn’t have any more children of her own.
“For the longest time, Josh always said, ‘Your kids are enough,’” she recalled.
But Cara Skaggs, who built a nursing career often working with mothers and babies, felt that something was missing.
So she and Josh Skaggs decided to become foster parents.
It broke their hearts to see their first foster daughter, who they had picked up from the hospital, sent home to a biological parent, Josh recalled.
“But clearly everything worked out for a reason,” he said. “We have these two beauties now.”
Those two beauties are Teaira, 6, and Nakiyah, 2.
The Skaggs picked up Teaira and Nakiyah for a weekend in April. They officially adopted the girls last Thursday on Nov. 19 — National Adoption Day.
At a small party celebrating the adoption Saturday, Josh Skaggs recalled the first time they returned to pick up the girls from a childcare provider.
“The 2-year-old got to the top of the steps and yelled, ‘Daddy!’ She came running,” he said. “It just melts your heart. You know you’re done for.”
The Skaggs’ home was the sixth for the girls in about 18 months, Josh Skaggs said. They spent 955 days in foster care before they were adopted.
They now have a bedroom decked out in shades of pink and characters from Disney’s “Frozen.”
The girls have also completed a series of firsts in the last seven months, including visiting Santa, exploring a county fair, watching fireworks and learning to ride a bike.
They spent Thanksgiving at the home of a big sister in Cambridge with a whole host of extended family.
Teaira is busy plotting her first sleepover.
“It’s all small stuff we take for granted,” Josh Skaggs said. “We just saved two lives.
“Not that we’re done yet,” he added.
Adoption was the Skaggs’ ultimate goal in becoming foster parents, Cara Skaggs said, citing the prohibitively high cost of private adoption. They have a third foster child, a boy, in their home now who they also hope to adopt.
But they plan to continue to be foster parents, though probably at a slower pace, she said.
“There are a lot of kids out there that need homes and love,” she said.
Across Ohio, there are between 12,000 and 13,000 children in foster care.
Currently, 12 Madison County children are in foster care, Madison County Children’s Services administrator Robin Bruno said.
The county is nearly 30 percent short on foster homes for these children, according to data collected by the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies.
One reason for this disparity is because families are licensed for specific genders and ages based on the number of bedrooms in a house and the children already present in the homes, Bruno explained.
Nearly all of the county’s current foster children have been placed in homes in neighboring counties, such as Franklin, which has a higher number of foster homes, she added.
Madison County contracts with an organization in Grove City called The Buckeye Ranch to recruit foster parents and coordinate placements.
The organization is working to increase the number of local foster families, Director of Foster Care Ann Woodford said.
Sometimes the situation can be difficult, but the Skaggs recommend it.
“It pays back in joy,” Cara Skaggs said.
For more information on becoming a foster parent, contact The Buckeye Ranch at 1-800-296-5113. The organization also runs an adopt-a-family holiday program that allows individuals or organizations to donate money for foster parents to purchase gifts for their foster children. Visit buckeyeranch.org for the details.
Reach Audrey Ingram at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or on Twitter @Audrey.MP.