Community comes together to throw adoption parade for 2-year-old who spent 700 days in foster care

The Moody family in Jacksonville, Florida, was finally able to complete their adoption of two-year-old Isla after fostering their daughter for 700 days.

Evan and Cayela Moody took Isla in as foster parents when she was only seven days old. The Moodys explained to Yahoo Life that the decision to foster Isla without knowing whether they would be able to adopt her was not without its challenges.

“When we started this process, Cayela was pretty adamant that she did not want a baby,” Evan Moody tells Yahoo Life. “She knew herself well enough to know that she would immediately fall in love.”

After caring for Isla for most of her life, the Moodys were excited as they submitted adoption paperwork in early 2020. However, before they could complete the process, the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and Florida courts closed in early March.

“Obviously, we were not expecting a worldwide pandemic to come into play,” Evan says. 

Court closures left the Moody family in limbo, and Cayela was emotional while they waited to learn whether they would be able to complete Isla’s adoption. The couple had first connected with their daughter through Fostering Hope, an organization that works to promote quality foster homes to children.

After six weeks, the state courts reopened and the Moodys received word that they had a date for their hearing. However, rather than an in-person courthouse adoption, it would be completed over Zoom. 

Isla’s adoption became official on April 30, and thanks to a virtual adoption process, extended members of the Moody family were able to join in on the conference call for the happy event. 

Cayela was pleased with the virtual adoption stating that it was “super exciting” to be able to include their loved ones in the process. 

A friend of the Moodys called the parade “an awesome way to celebrate the ending of all of the ups and downs and the start of a new family.” (Credit: Courtesy of The Moody Family).

With the adoption finalized, the family was ready to celebrate Isla’s adoption. Although social distancing guidelines prevented an in-person party, friends and members of the Jacksonville foster care community decided to show their love and support by gathering in a parade to wish the toddler and her family well.

Melissa Hannigan, who is a friend of the Moodys, was excited when she learned that Isla’s adoption would be finalized. 

“When all this COVID stuff happened, I was so crushed that we couldn’t all be there to celebrate,” said Hannigan. Instead, Hannigan and a few others organized an adoption parade for Isla.

Tami Bister, who also helped arrange the parade, said that it was “an awesome way to celebrate the ending of all of the ups and downs and the start of a new family.”

Cayela said the parade was one of the “most incredible memories that we will probably ever experience.”

Cayela Moody said the parade for her daughter Isla, pictured, was one of the “most incredible memories that we will probably ever experience” as a family. (Credit: Courtesy of The Moody Family).

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