The Spectrum/Cedar City Daily News
July 2, 2011
HURRICANE – Two little girls get up from the couch every few seconds in anticipation of their dad coming home from work.
They think they hear his car, but they’re wrong. Three times.
When Hurricane resident and Foster/Adoptive Dad of the Year Jerry Barlow does walk through the back door, his daughters Lynzie Loyal, 5, and Lyza London, 3, are right there in their matching ruffled outfits to give him a hug.
Barlow’s son William “Bill” Legend Barlow, 17, tries to pretend like it’s no big deal but cracks a smile watching his sisters get so excited.
Bill chose his middle name after the Barlows adopted him June 1 because his sisters had received names from their adoptive parents when they were brought home almost two years ago.
Even though Jerry and Serenity have adopted all three of their children, their household doesn’t feel any different than if the trio had been born and raised in their home.
The girls participate in pageants, sit in their mom’s lap and get in trouble for cutting each other’s hair. Bill has gotten a job to earn the clunker that now sits in the driveway.
“You have to pretend like you like me,” Serenity said to Bill while piling on the couch for family photos, and he wrapped his arms around the rest of the group.
“But not that much,” she laughed.
Bill must like his parents, because a letter he wrote to the Utah Foster Care Foundation for the annual Foster/Adoptive Dad of the Year got Jerry nominated for the award.
“The nominations can come in from anybody, and then we review all of them without knowing who they are, and look at the story, the situation they were in,” said Debbie Hofhines, southwest region representative for the UFCF.
About Bill’s letter, Hofhines said, “I just remember he wrote ‘He sees me, he sees me as his kid.'”
For Serenity, the decision to adopt made sense even before she knew she couldn’t have children, because her foster family adopted her as a young child.
“I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
Jerry’s story was a little different.
“I grew up in a family that did a lot of drugs,” he said. “I thought it was good to do foster care to get other kids out of bad situations (like I had).”
Jerry, along with four other dads from across the state, won the award and each received a trophy and prizes at the annual Chalk Art Festival in Salt Lake City last month.
Each year, the festival receives 20,000 visitors who learn how to help more than 2,800 Utah kids in foster care.
Hofhines said in her nine-county region of southwest Utah, there are 270 children in foster care and 130 families caring for them.
The Utah Division of Child and Family Services places the kids in adoptive homes, she said, while the foundation trains parents for foster care.
“Generally around here 65 percent of kids do return home to their family,” Hofhines said. “But we always need more families.”
The Barlows said they plan to adopt more children after their kids are older and they can make room for more.
To learn about foster care or adoption, call Hofhines at 656-8065 or visit www.utahfostercare.org.
Photo Credit: gallivanphotography.com