By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
For many dads, fatherhood formally starts when they cut the umbilical cord in the hospital.
That symbolic milestone, under the watchful eye of an obstetrician, says to the world this child is mine to nurture and protect.
For foster and adoptive dads, that symbolic moment comes with the stroke of a pen. But they feel the ties that bind with joy and determination, too.
Michael Barnes of Lee County and Luis Beltran of Union County are two Northeast Mississippians who added to their families with adoption, and both say it’s been a blessing.
“It’s what we felt God wanted us to do,” said Michael Barnes, who with wife Michelle has served as the foster parent for eight children over the years. They consider themselves lucky to have been able to adopt one of them.
The Barnes family
Lexie, now 3, makes four for the Barnes family with Noah, 8, Mae, 12, and Mackenzie, 14. Lexie has been with the Barnes family since she was a baby, and sometimes it’s hard to believe she doesn’t share the same genes as the rest of the family.
“She does things just like the rest of us,” Barnes said. “We’re all outgoing; she’s outgoing.”
The family is currently fostering another young child and is open to adopt that child, too.
In all, the Barnes have hosted eight foster children in their home. Some have been short term; in other cases, it’s been more than a year.
“We’re human, we don’t want any of them to leave,” Barnes said, but as foster parents their job is to provide a loving sanctuary for the children they are asked to care for.
“We’re not trying to take the place of your mom and dad,” Barnes said. “But while you’re in our home, we’re going to treat you like our children.”
Barnes said he loves being a dad for such a large family and enjoys watching the kids learn and grow.
“I joke with my parents that when we come for a visit I have more than half of the grandchildren with me,” Barnes said.
The Beltran family
Beltran and wife Anita formally adopted Alexis, 6, in January, making her sister to Desirae, 19, Luis IV, 16, Ciarra, 13, and Katrina, 10.
“She brought a lot of happiness into our family,” Beltran said. “We gave her a lot of happiness, too.”
Alexis was no stranger to the Beltran family when she moved in as a foster child a year and a half ago. Biologically, she’s Luis Beltran’s great-niece.
“Alexis’ mom was more like a sister to me than a niece,” Beltran said. “It was just natural” that Alexis would become a part of their family when the need arose.
With Alexis’ arrival, the Beltrans found themselves back in kindergarten.
“It was a whole new start again,” Beltran said. “It all came back,” with learning reading, math and buying big crayons.
“We’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
– WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. June 27
– WHERE: Skate Zone, Tupelo
– COSTS: Fathers with children, free;mom, $4
– HOSTS: Regional Community Partnership