Julius Jackson started in our Adoption Navigator program when it was launched in 2004. At the time there were over 1,700 children and teens waiting for permanent homes in Cuyahoga County. Now there are approximately 600. “In 2004, I was volunteering at Adoption Network Cleveland after a work injury, and I got inspired to work with people by sitting next to Linda Bellini. Her caring spirit made me consider a career change and apply to be an Adoption Navigator,” says Julius.
Even though it was technically a career change, he actually had spent a lifetime in a nurturing mode: caring for children and animals. When Julius was in the Second grade he nurtured a baby bird back to life by feeding it worms until it could away. Julius had three children by the time he was in his early twenties and within a few years, he was a single dad, raising them by himself into successful lives as adults. He wanted to teach his children empathy, so he felt strongly about having animals around the house that needed caregiving.
In 2005, Julius met Sharonda, another staff member of Adoption Network Cleveland. Five years later, on October 7, 2010, they were married. Together they have gathered a menagerie of animals that were all rescued out of a harsher life. Their combined six children, three dogs, one cat, and one large turtle and make up the Jackson family. Julius thoughtfully did extraordinary tactics to acclimate each new animal when they came into the household. One beagle “Lucy” left a life being chained up in their neighborhood. She had a bruised neck and vocal cords. Before bringing her home, they walked with her and the other dogs so they would act like a pack. Now, Lucy runs freely their other dogs with an invisible fence on their one-acre lot. The turtle lives in a 125 gallon tank and has quadrupled in size since it arrived in their care.
Their 4-year-old cat “Kitty” has a life story that included her first several months of life as a member of the ANC family. At only hours old, the kitten had been dropped in their yard as she ran away from one of their dogs. Julius felt bad, watching and waiting for hours for the mom to return. When she didn’t Julius began an around the clock caring regimen to keep her alive and that involved bringing her into the office every day in a shoe box.
Julius’ nurturing heart with families is a mainstay around our office. He has helped hundreds of families stay inspired in the adoption process. “At the end of the day, I want children to be nurtured to their potential like I have cared for my children. When good people come along and want to adopt from foster care I want to help them any way I can, but ultimately, I do it for the kids,” said Julius. In a recent fun staff luncheon, he was given a “Wikipedia Award” for “always knowing the answer.”