A Tampa Adoption Story

Jeff Stidham posted the following Tampa adoption story on the website of Hillsborough County’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit:

Three weeks before their fifth anniversary, Ali and Tonya Muhammad began preparing for a new arrival: a baby boy destined to become one of their own. They welcomed young Marcus on Nov. 5, 2010, three days after his birth. Their anniversary.

And so began a two-year journey toward adoption that concluded Nov. 16 on National Adoption Day, when Marcus, now called Sameer, became part of a “forever family.”

Tonya Muhammad, who works for the 13th Judicial Circuit and  is the mother of two girls, had always wanted a boy. Ali, the father of four, agreed to become a dad again.

But when their youngest child first came to live with them, they didn’t realize he would one day be their son. They did it for his birth mother. “It was all in the hope of helping out Mom and coming to her rescue,” Tonya Muhammad says.

Tonya and Ali came to know the woman through their mosque. Their close friends, Alec and Wanda Muhammad, even became godparents to the birth mother’s sons, Kahlid and Yusaf. The families together sought to help the woman through troubled times.

But within a year of Yusaf’s birth two years ago, the state removed the boys from their mother’s custody. She was seven months pregnant. Alec and Wanda took the boys in as foster children, but they didn’t know what to do about the coming baby. They turned, as their adoption agency says, “to their family in faith” – Ali and Tonya.

“When I looked at him in his crib and thought of him in foster care, it used to break my heart, with no family to embrace him, to envelope him in love,” Tonya says.

The two couples hoped the birth mother would be able to care for her children, but they soon realized that would not be possible. The fathers of her three children – Khalid born to one man, the other two to a second – were not as receptive. Eventually she failed to meet the requirements of the court, and Hillsborough Kids decided to seek to terminate the parents’ rights. An adoption agency, Devereux Florida, in partnership with Eckerd Community Alternatives, began to work with both families. Two years later, the adoptions are finalized.

If you have questions regarding adoption in Florida and wish to speak with a Tampa Bay adoption attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our online form.


About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at www.FamilyDiplomacy.com. Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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