(CBS News) - Last month, a 2-year-old girl who had been in foster care for 700 days was finally adopted by her family in Jacksonville, Florida. Even though social distancing guidelines are preventing people from getting together, Isla's adoption by the Moody family received a special celebration from their community.
Isla's mom, Cayela Moody, told CBS News she and her husband, Evan, had submitted paperwork for the adoption before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. However, when stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines were put in place, courts had to shutter their doors.
So, they were surprised to get the call that courts had reopened after more than six weeks, and Isla’s adoption hearing was scheduled for just a week later.
Isla, her parents, their children, Nolan, Harrison, Margaret, and Evelyn and another foster child in their care gathered for a Zoom adoption hearing on April 30. That day, Isla officially became a Moody – the family she’s been with since she was seven days old.
Moody said she is very involved in a foster care community in Jacksonville called Fostering Hope. “I thought we would plan a party to thank everyone who loved her after social distancing restrictions were limited,” Moody told CBS News. “But, I also knew that they truly wanted to be a part of the day.”
So, community members decorated their cars with balloons and banners and drove past the Moodys' house to congratulate Isla. "We were blown away at how this group has loved us so well along our journey!" Moody said.
"Because Evan is in the military, we sadly do not have family close. So, the parade consisted of a lot of Fostering Hope members, other foster families we have walked alongside, and some of our church members as well," she continued.
The Fostering Hope community got right back to work after celebrating Isla’s adoption, because there are other foster kids in their area that need support. “We delivered two dozen ‘Bags of Hope’ to local foster families and prepared over 100 freezer meals to be delivered. So, we celebrated, and then we hit the ground running!” Moody said.
The group has helped her family with child care, meals – and comfort. "They sent cards and showed up with coffee on hard days," she said.
"They loved our foster children and welcomed them as a part of our family," the mom said. "We need great families coming alongside these children and their parents to support them during very challenging times."
Moody said May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and she wants to use this time to remind people that “foster children need people that are willing to raise their hands and say, ‘I can be forever.’” Now, the Moodys are Isla’s forever.