Mandi and Ben Miller, a couple from Wisconsin, have adopted their foster daughter three years after she came to live with them. Zari’s adoption was completed at the Vel R. Phillips Youth & Family Justice Center (Children’s Court Center) in Milwaukee.
Mandi Miller told GMA, “November is [National Adoption Awareness Month]. And then Nov. 18 is National Adoption Day, and so our county celebrated it on Nov. 17. We had our parents and some aunts and cousins in the room, which was really nice. It was a 20-minute ceremony in the courtroom. But it was almost a little surreal because so much changed. She’s legally ours forever and ever and ever, and yet she is still the same kid. She’s still Zari.”
38-year-old Mandi Miller received a call in the middle of the night on November 12, 2020, asking if she would take emergency placement of a new baby. “And I said, ‘Yes.’ So, she arrived about 45 minutes later [on Nov. 13], which happened to be on my birthday.”
Zari was 4 weeks old when she arrived at their home following her release from the neonatal critical care unit during the coronavirus outbreak.
“At first, when I met Zari, I was just kind of scared and nervous about a newborn baby being around — and then, fast forward a few months later, I also became licensed [to be a foster parent]. And then we are here now, three years later,” 33-year-old Ben Miller also expressed.
Zari, the Millers’ fifth child, has grown into a “very kind and loving” toddler who is also “curious,” “adventurous,” and “very independent,” according to the Millers.
Mandi Miller has wanted to be a foster mom since she was in high school and met a foster family, so even though her home now is “usually loud with laughter and playing,” she wouldn’t have it any other way. The Millers want to inspire others to think about adopting children or helping foster families; they also want to inspire others to learn more about trauma and gentle parenting.
“These kids need direction and help more so than … just a biological child if you have one. There are a lot of deep little things you’ve really got to learn and you gotta be able to roll with the punches,” Ben Miller remarked.
While Mandi Miller stated, “I would love other people to consider fostering or adopting. This is a need in every community, every city, every town, rural, suburb — like, anywhere has this need. And if people aren’t interested in fostering, there are still ways you can support foster parents.”
She added, “There’s no way we could have five little kids if we were doing this 100% on our own. We have so much love and support and encouragement, even if it’s a phone call or a babysitter for a night or whatever it is. It takes a whole community to support these families and these kids, and we’re doing our part.”