With blessings and applause, workers at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women bid farewell to “Princess Jasmine” as the 5-day-old baby left for a foster home Wednesday.
Dressed in clothes donated by Walt Disney World employees and wrapped in a blanket, the child abandoned in a Magic Kingdom toilet began the journey to an undisclosed home in the Orlando area.
There, Jasmine will join two more children cared for by licensed foster parents, who also have two kids of their own. The other children’s ages were not available.
“We feel very comfortable with the arrangement,” said Martin Buckley of the Department of Children and Families.
State officials described Jasmine’s foster mother as a stay-at-home mom but would not release any other information about the foster parents.
Nurse Patricia Jobson, who cared for Jasmine daily since her rescue Saturday night, said she was sad to see Jasmine go but knows that the little girl has a bright future.
“We just want her to be treated as a normal baby as soon as possible,” Jobson said. “She’s such an alert baby, that it’s hard not to love her.”
Jobson said Jasmine was alert as she was dressed in the nursery and carried downstairs to be turned over to state social service workers.
“She just opened her eyes like she knew something important was about to happen,” Jobson said.
Jasmine, who got her name after the princess character in Disney’s Aladdin movie, became one of about 1,100 children being cared for in 463 foster homes in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Brevard counties.
Buckley, administrator for the four-county district’s family safety and preservation program, said it would be at least three months before Jasmine is eligible for adoption.
“She’s definitely in demand,” he said. “It’s fair to say that there’ll be no difficulty identifying a permanent home for her.”
Buckley said it will be possible for the foster parents to adopt the baby. But he said the department has not made a decision on that as yet.
“Whether we’ll consider this an option, we don’t know,” he said. “We haven’t discussed that yet with the present foster home.”
Jasmine’s biological parents have up to 60 days to claim her. After that, the state can ask a judge to end their parental rights and put Jasmine up for adoption.
Of the 1,107 foster children in the four counties, 127 are ready for adoption while another 200 are awaiting resolution of their parental rights. That determination is the final step before children can be adopted.
Statewide, there about 3,700 children in several stages of the adoption process. Of those, at least 1,700 are adoption-ready and the rest await a judge’s decision on the termination of parental rights.
An official with the Children’s Home Society of Florida, which screens prospective couples, said the demand for newborns is so high that babies of any race have waiting lists of eligible parents.
“It doesn’t matter if they are white, brown, purple, black, yellow,” said Eric Foxman, a senior social worker at Children’s Home Society of Orlando.
Child-welfare workers hope Jasmine’s case will generate more interest in adoptions. And they hope her story opens the door for the many orphans awaiting permanent, loving homes.
“There are certainly more children deserving of a good home,” Buckley said. “Hopefully, people will not be only interested in adopting this child but others in need as well.”
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ADOPTION AWARENESS November is National Adoption Awareness Month. If you’re interested in adopting children, call the department of children and families at 1-800-882-8699.