A whole second grade class showed up for their classmate’s adoption day
DECATUR, Ala. — Jan. 30, 2023 was a special day for Jasmine.
When Jasmine became a permanent member of the Brown family that day, she had a cheering section there for her: her whole second grade class from Danville-Neel Elementary.
Jasmine, 9, is the sixth adoption for Melanie and Anthony Brown of Danville.
Jasmine had been in care for three years when she came to the Browns in February 2022. They were her seventh foster care placement. She was only supposed to be with the Browns for a couple of weeks, but DHR later asked if she could stay with them for the rest of the school year, and the Browns agreed.
Jasmine is small for her age and quiet. She wears her emotions on her sleeve, loves to cuddle and especially loves babies and taking care of others. She will wake up early on a Sunday morning and get church clothes ready for her younger siblings. Melanie says she immediately felt like part of the family.
“We make the joke that she’s the one that will take care of us in the nursing home,” Melanie said.
Melanie and Anthony thought they were done adopting. They became a foster family almost by accident when they agreed to help a woman in Hartselle who needed help watching her children. They ended up fostering those children and later adopting them into their family.
The Brown house at Circle Ranch in Morgan County is full; they have 10 children living in the home currently; three of them are foster placements. (They also have two more sons, ages 21 and 25, who no longer live at home.)
Last year, while they were on a beach trip, they were contacted by Jasmine’s DHR worker, asking if they would be interested in adopting her.
The question caught Melanie and Anthony off guard, so they talked and prayed about what they should do. In the end, Melanie said anytime she thought about keeping Jasmine, her heart was at peace. They decided to go ahead with adoption.
“I just felt like she was ours,” she said.
After the decision was made, Melanie was talking with Jasmine’s teacher at Danville-Neel Elementary, Amanda Holland. She mentioned inviting the class to the adoption, and Holland took the idea and ran with it, getting approval from the school for a field trip that day.
“She is the most helpful, precious child. She’s our little mama in the classroom,” Holland said.
Melanie, who was adopted herself when she was a child, said she thought it would be great for the children to be part of something so special for Jasmine.
“There’s such a stigma sometimes with people and adoption,” she said. “These kids get to see Jasmine’s dream come true. They will always remember this.”
Jasmine is the third adopted child in Holland’s classroom, and a fourth will be adopted soon. Holland said the children were excited to be a part of her big day.
“They were familiar with it, and we talked about how we’re a family, and they’re just thrilled to death,” Holland said.
On adoption day, everyone showed up at the Morgan County Courthouse with their #BrownBunch shirts. For Jasmine, it was a shirt that said “I Love My Village.” Her family wore similar shirts that said “We Love Our Village.” And her classmates, teachers, and CASA advocate had shirts that said “We Are the Village.”
Because Morgan County Probate Judge Greg Cain’s courtroom was too small to hold everyone, Jasmine’s classmates waited upstairs in Morgan County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Howell’s courtroom. While they talked with Howell and asked questions about her job and the court system, Melanie and Anthony testified downstairs and signed the paperwork to make Jasmine a permanent member of the Brown family. They then came upstairs, where they reunited with her class and took pictures.
Afterward, they went to First Baptist Church of Decatur for a celebration party. And when she got back to school, the other students lined the hallways and chanted Jasmine’s name as she walked back to her classroom.
Melanie said she and Anthony are thankful to be able to live and raise their children in such a supportive community.
“I’ve said over and over and over, I’m so unworthy. Why am I the one that gets to witness all this goodness and all this amazement?” Melanie said. “It’s very overwhelming, because I feel so undeserving. There’s really no words to describe it; that these second graders and these adults would come and support us and be with us on this special day, it’s amazing.”
Melanie wants others who may be considering becoming foster families to know that the need is great, but so is the payoff.
“Yes, it’s hard and stressful,” she said. “But the joy and the hugs and smiles make it worth it.”
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, click here!