Orange County LGBTQ couple named Florida foster parents of the year

The Florida Coalition for Children has named Bobby Sharp and Everett Kamuchey its “Foster Parents of the Year” for taking in some 20 children since 2013. The two are believed to be the first LGBTQ couple to receive the honor.

Sharp, 45, and Kamuchey, 39, lived in Orange County during the five years they worked with the nonprofit Devereux Florida, fostering abused, neglected or abandoned children and adopting three of them. In June, the family relocated to South Carolina.

Glen Casel, president and CEO of Community Based Care of Central Florida — which oversees the child welfare system in the region — said he believed Sharp and Kamuchey to be the first gay couple recognized by the Florida Coalition for the top award.

“They’re just great, great foster parents,” Casel said. “And we’ve really seen the emergence of the gay and lesbian community in supporting our kids. It has been amazing.”

At Devereux, vice president Gwendolyn Skinner called Sharp and Kamuchey role models.

“These foster parents embody unconditional love and acceptance, and the authentic family experience that every child deserves,” Skinner said. “By sharing their story, they have been successful in recruiting many new foster parents, and have become a constant source of support for both youth and other foster families.”

The couple devoted themselves to fostering children after seeing a news story about an LGBTQ child whose family rejected him, leaving him homeless.

“You have to be a foster parent for the right reasons,” Sharp said. “It should be about taking care of these children, wanting them to be with their families, and being prepared to go the extra mile for them.”

The couple contacted Devereux, enrolled in foster parent training classes and became licensed. Early on, the two took in a difficult teenager — an age that is often a challenge to place.

“Bobby and Everett stepped forward with open arms and did everything they could do to meet his needs,” Skinner said. “They provided the specialized care he needed and even invested their own personal resources to ensure successful treatment.”

Each year, agency members of the Florida Coalition for Children collectively care for more than 50,000 children and families through group homes, emergency shelters, residential treatment centers and case management.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, go to devereux.org or cbccfl.org.

Credit for this story goes to Kate Santich, Orlando Sentinel