Local family gives three children a forever home

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – November marks National Adoption Awareness Month, and in the U.S. 400,000 children live in foster care, searching for a permanent place to call home. Jill Kelsey and her husband Heath have adopted three children since they started fostering five years ago.

The pair first met their adopted son Duke after his lengthy stint at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. The baby boy was a victim of repeated beatings by his birth mother’s boyfriend.

“He was 9 months old and had had about nine months’ worth of trauma” said Jill.

The gut-wrenching scene took Heath back to his childhood, as he has suffered from child abuse himself.

“I know that situation,” said Heath. “I know what it’s like to wonder when the next beating is coming.”

The pair have fostered nine kids over the past five years. They adopted Duke, his brother Drew, and one of Jill’s middle school students, Celine, after their home situations became untenable.

“They need to know that someone out there still cares that someone loves them. And that’s hard for kids who have come from hard places. A lot of times, they don’t come in with that kind of background. They’ve never experienced that kind of family,” said Jill.

In honor of his son, Heath recently decided to write a children’s book about Duke’s life-changing experience. “Duke and the Dinosaur Family” is now available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

“The theme of the story is it’s okay to be scared if you’re a foster kid or adopted child,” said the father of six. “It doesn’t matter what the family looks like, anybody can love you, and children cannot have too many people that love them.”

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