17-yr-old is hours away from aging out of foster care when couple officially adopts him

In the city of Green Cove Springs, Florida, a young man named Roman Balassaitis received the most extraordinary birthday gift just hours before turning 18 – a loving, permanent family.

Roman’s adoption by Renee and Brad Balassaitis, a couple with a profound commitment to foster care, marked a pivotal moment in his life, transforming his future from uncertainty to one filled with hope and love.


Roman’s journey to this joyful day was not an easy one.
Having moved through 19 different homes since age 11, his life was full of instability and change.

And as we know, being in the foster care system can be very difficult for children, who often dream of having forever homes of their own.

Everything shifted for Roman when he met the Balassaitis family.
Renee and Brad, who have fostered about 20 children and adopted seven others, saw in Roman a resilient spirit deserving of a forever family.

“I was sweating bad. My heart was beating. I was very happy,” Roman told First Coast News, encapsulating the overwhelming emotions of the day.

The urgency of Roman’s adoption was because of the ticking clock of his 18th birthday.
In Florida, as in many states, the opportunity for state-supported adoption disappears at 18, a reality faced by 60% of children in the state’s foster care system, according to the University of Florida.



This often leads to homelessness and a life of uncertainty.

“So now we know we have nine kids, officially,” Brad happily shared, reflecting on the significance of Roman’s adoption just in the nick of time.

The Balassaitis family’s journey with Roman began when he first stayed with them at the age of 12.
Despite the initial challenges, including Roman’s fear of abandonment, the family’s love and persistence eventually won.

Years later, a chance reconnection through social media led Roman back to the Balassaitis home, culminating in his adoption.

Renee couldn’t be happier to officially be Roman’s mom.
She told First Coast News:

“I know he’s very relieved. We’re relieved. He’s going to do so well. He just needed to know people believed in him, and he was wanted and chosen.”

This sentiment resonates with many children in foster care, especially older ones, who often feel overlooked and undervalued.


Roman’s story is a reminder of the countless teenagers in the United States who yearn for a similar happy ending.
The statistics are sobering: many, like Roman, face the prospect of aging out of the system without the support and love of a family.

Hopefully, Roman’s story inspires others to consider fostering or adoption and help change a life.

While being a foster parent isn’t always easy, it’s worth it.
The Balassaitis don’t sugarcoat the difficulties, having navigated complex issues like schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder in their foster children.

Yet, they consider their journey the most rewarding of their lives, driven by a deep sense of purpose and faith.

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