Introducing the Johnson Family
Starting today, May 12 will always be a special day for the Johnsons. Florida couple Dustin and Daniel Johnson and their six kids officially became a family today! Their court date secured the children as part of the family earlier this afternoon. The kids are now all Johnsons — officially and legally.
Before the kids
In 2018, Dustin, who had recently relocated from Minnesota to Florida, met Daniel online and started dating. Their first date, which Dustin says was like an interview, included a conversation about their “deal-breakers” and if they wanted children or not. As fate would have it, they both wanted to be parents.
Fast forward a couple of years, and there was a proposal in the midst of COVID. They decided to get married shortly thereafter. But there was just one problem — the lockdown. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses, offices, and government agencies were completely shut down. But Dustin and Daniel are problem solvers, and they soon found a place where they could get married and get their marriage certificate notarized — a local Wells Fargo!
Expanding their family
When Dustin and Daniel were ready to expand their family, they started investigating options. They decided foster-to-adopt would be best for them.
“We knew there were kids right in our own backyard who needed a safe and loving home,” said Dustin.So they started the process of adoption through the foster care system. Next came months of classes, a home study, background checks — all before being approved to foster.
“We knew we wanted a sibling group,” said Dustin. “They are harder to place, and we’re starting from scratch so we were open to siblings.”
“How serious are you about six kids?”
Part of the process included letting the agency know the maximum number of children they would take. They decided on six. “We have a Suburban, and it will fit six kids,” joked Dustin.
Not long after being in the foster system, their adoption specialist called and asked, “How serious were you about six kids?” She had the perfect sibling group of six children who had been spread out amongst five different foster homes for three years. In that time, all six had been together only a total of three times. Dustin and Daniel said yes. Suddenly their quiet home was bursting with the joy, creativity, and spirit of six children between the ages of three and eleven.
Reuniting all six children was a joy. “And it’s like no time had passed since they were all together last,” said Dustin.
Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” law
With some of the children in school, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” law has been a worry for the parents. Can their kids talk about their family? Can the kids mention that they have two dads?
“When the school asks for a family photo, do we have to Photoshop ourselves out of it?” Dustin asked. “The last thing we should have to worry about is sending a family photo to school.”
Thankfully, with a lot of proactive communication, so far, their experiences in school have been positive. Their teachers have been supportive and the other students look at the Johnsons no differently from any other family.
“The kids they are now versus the kids they were when they first arrived is like night and day,” said Dustin.
The kids are thriving. They’re quickly settling into their routines at school and at home. They love reading, they enjoy pool parties in their backyard, and they can’t get enough of boating on Tampa Bay. Love makes a family and the Johnsons have plenty to go around.
Forever starts today — Johnson party of eight.