Uploaded on Apr 27, 2010
TAMPA - The din of a room at the Economy Inn on East Busch Boulevard is nearly deafening at times.
Twelve children ranging from teenagers to toddlers to infants are here, scrambling across the floor, bouncing on beds. With eyes filled with resignation, they are hungry and dirty and they wear the same clothes they wore the day before and the day before that.
Mom is asking for help, saying she is homeless and hopeless. A relative paid for the hotel room for a week, and after that, who knows. Her fiancé is in prison. Her 1-year-old is named John The Baptist Brown.
Angel Adams is indignant when asked about her situation, saying somebody owes her. The lifelong Tampa resident says she wants justice from the Hillsborough County sheriff's child protection team that took her kids away from her two years ago and from Hillsborough Kids Inc., which got her kids back six months ago.
"What do I do?" she says. "I have no answers. My family has been railroaded. Someone needs to pay.
"Nobody's helping me."
Inside the dingy motel, Adams hands out a list of her children and their ages. Across the top: "Three fathers. One Mother. Fifteen Children."
Food is donated. They get Cuban sandwiches and packaged noodles. There's a microwave and mini refrigerator. No stove. One sink, one toilet, one shower. Everyone's barefoot, walking on a dirty, stained green carpet.
The dull smell of dirty diapers fills the room. Jerome, 11, gives Andrew, 6 months, a bottle. "This is not comfortable," Jerome says.
The baby coughs and spits up.
"The girls sleep on one bed," Adams says. "The boys sleep on the other. I just crash on the floor."
The 12 kids are the youngest of 15 altogether, she says. Three have "aged out," meaning they have turned 18 and are on their own, no longer a part of the child welfare system.
"I can have as many as I want to," she says. All her kids, she adds, "are gifts from God."
The 37-year-old mother doesn't work. "This is my work," she says gesturing toward the throng of children. "I do this all by myself."
She says she has needs and she wants Hillsborough Kids to take care of that.
"I need a house," she says, "a big enough home to be comfortable. The kids are scared. I'm scared."