Oct 25, 2010

Meet your Neighbors

Angel-ic Staten Island mom who has adopted 8 children, fostered 50, receives award for efforts

Merle Ellis (c.) has adopted 8 children, in addition to her biological son, and fostered 50 more.
Lanzilote for News
Merle Ellis (c.) has adopted 8 children, in addition to her biological son, and fostered 50 more.
Merle Ellis is New York's supermom.
The Staten Island woman has dedicated her life to vulnerable kids for two decades, opening her heart and home to so many young people that she has been named a national "Angel in Adoption."
Ellis, 58, has turned her home into a refuge, fostering more than 50 children, adopting eight and raising her own biological son under one roof.
"I love kids, I've always loved kids," Ellis said. "It makes me happy to see the kids happy."
She was invited to Washington earlier this month and honored alongside the nation's other top adoptive parents by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a charity helping kids in need of safe, loving homes.
She was nominated by Congressman Michael McMahon (D-S.I.), and the choice was backed by the Children's Aid Society.
Although welcoming children into her home is now second nature to Ellis, it was an idea she was introduced to by a friend.
One of the first little girls she was asked to care for, by the Seamen's Society for Children, was just 5 days old and had been abandoned by her mom.
Their relationship was only meant to span a few months but grew into much more.
"I just grew attached to her, and couldn't give her up after nine months," Ellis said.
"I adopted her. ... I got her right out of hospital."
The walls of Ellis' two-story home in New Brighton, S.I., are adorned with the beaming images of the children she has helped over the years.
Their sports trophies line the staircase, and toys, backpacks and schoolbooks are scattered around the bustling living room.
The number of children living under Ellis' roof changes constantly as they grow up and move on, or return to their natural parents. With her 27-year-old biological son, Sean, there are a total of nine people there now.
Life is hectic at times: The race for the bathroom in the morning can be intense, there are three freezers and three pantries to be stocked, and there are five bedrooms, with multiple beds.
Ellis' family members are her biggest fans.
"She knows how to give each of us equal amounts of love and affection," said adoptive son Timothy, 14, who was first fostered by Ellis four years ago with his sister, Susan, 13. "We asked her to adopt us. I just like being with her - I thought that she would make a good mother."
"I'm proud of her - she deserves the recognition," Ellis' adoptive daughter, Yolanda, 20, said. "She's very selfless."
Ellis says receiving the "Angels in Adoption Award" was overwhelming,
"When I heard I got this award, I said, 'Why me? Why me?'" she said. "I didn't do this for the awards or anything. I just did it for my heart."

Full Article can be found at the New York Post's website.

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