Teenager who has lived 19 different homes since the age of 11, is adopted in the nick of time just before his 18th birthday
- Brad and Renee Balassaitis from Jacksonville adopted Roman on October 17
- Roman expressed his relief at having support and ‘somewhere to go to’
- READ MORE: Couple who adopted two children before having their own say it is the ‘perfect’ way to grow their family
A teenager who grew up in foster care has officially found his forever home only hours shy of his eighteenth birthday.
Roman Balassaitis from Jacksonville, Florida, has experienced his fair share of upheaval in his life, having lived in 19 different places since the age of 11.
But after staying with the Balassaitis for 14 months, parents Brad and Renee wanted to make him an official part of their family and faced a race against time to give Roman stability before he aged out of the care system and was no longer eligible for support.
The couple officially adopted him on October 17, first via Zoom and then in Clay County Historic Court House – 40 miles away from Jacksonville.
Brad Balassaitis told First Coast News: ‘He [Roman] doesn’t have to worry about bouncing around anymore, he knows that we are here for him.’
Roman Balassaitis (pictured) told First Coast News that his heart was beating with excitement before officially becoming a part of the Balassaitis family – only hours shy of his eighteenth birthday
The young man told how his heart was nervously beating in excitement during the process, adding: ‘It means I have someone to go to. It means if I need someone to talk to, I have people to talk to now.’
Mother-of-nine Renee was looking forward to the teenager’s brighter future after making him a part of their family, noting that the young man just needed to feel supported, as well as ‘wanted and chosen’.
Roman has also changed his second name to that of his adoptive family.
The couple first met their adopted son whilst he was living in a group home at the age of 12.
Roman would often pop-up at their family home, engaging in Nerf gun fights with Brad and Renee’s children.
He first lived with the Balassaitis for nine months after leaving the group home, but was not ready to be adopted at the time.
Renee, who has nine children altogether including Roman, described him leaving their home at the age of 13 as ‘crushing’.
However, their foster child remained in contact with the family, and in August 2022 the Balassaitis’ discovered Roman wanted to live with them again.
According to USA today, the young man first stayed with the family in an unofficial capacity, but was later placed into their foster care.
Last December the parents discussed adopting Roman with their other children, who said they already regarded him as their sibling.
Renee and Brad Balassaitis raced to adopt Roman before his birthday. They are relieved the young man – who has lived in 19 different places since the age of 11 – now has a base will no longer have to worry about being moved around. Pictured from left to right: Austin, Brad, Roman, Renee, Tatianna and Halle
Later, on Christmas day, Roman was given the most priceless gift, with Brad and Renee revealing they were adopting him.
The mother of nine told Today: ‘We were all sobbing, All Roman has ever wanted was to find his forever family.’
Roman has been extremely relieved ever since the day of his adoption, according to his mother, who says his change in demeanor is obvious.
The foster parents wanted to give the young man the stability he never had growing up, so that he has a home base and always has somewhere to stay during the festive season.
Brad and Renee have adopted seven children, Tom, 28, Chrissy, 26, Austin, 22, Sammy, 20, and Tatiana, 17.
They pair who have fostered 20 children since 2008, also have three biological children Jared, 22, Halle, 18, and 18-year-old Rose who passed away in 2022.
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