AJ and Robert always knew they wanted to be parents — the Jacksonville couple, who married 9 years ago, said it’s always been an organic conversation in their household.

“We constantly have been feeling like we were missing something, and it’s been what’s missing in our household,” said AJ.

And finally, they’ve found that missing piece to complete their family. AJ and Robert first met 14-year-old Jacquez this past Mother’s Day weekend. “The first time we met him, we loved him immediately,” said Robert. Their adoption was finalized on Friday, Nov. 17, just ahead of National Adoption Day.

Family Support Services of Duval and Nassau counties is continuing the work to find children in the foster care system their forever families.

Jodi Pliska, the adoptions manager, said right now the need is for teenagers. “So many of our teenagers are facing aging out of foster care and not having a place to call home and not having a place to go back home for Thanksgiving.”

WATCH the complete interview with Action New Jax’s Alexus Cleavenger here: ‘It’s like it was always meant to be’: Couple adopting teen during National Adoption Month 2023

With more than 300 children in Duval and Nassau counties open to adoption, the need for permanent, loving homes continues — particularly for teens and sibling groups. To learn more and begin your adoption journey, click here.

Follow the FSS Adoption team on Facebook for more information about children open to adoption and upcoming events.