The din of room 168 at the Economy Inn on East Busch Boulevard occasionally drowned out conversation.
Twelve children ranging from teenagers to toddlers to infants spent the past week here, scrambling across the floor, bouncing on beds. With eyes filled with resignation on Wednesday morning, they were hungry and dirty and they wore the same clothes as the day before and the day before that.
Angel Adams, the mom, was asking for help, as the children rambled about the room. She was homeless and hopeless, she said. A relative paid for the motel room for a week, and after that, who knows. Her fiancé is in prison. Her 1-year-old is named John The Baptist Brown.
Nick Cox, regional director of the Florida Department of Children and Families, paid Adams a visit and, standing outside the motel room with all 12 children present, offered a solution. He said there was room at A Kid’s Place in Brandon, a cottage large enough to house a family of 12. Wary of the offer, Adams agreed.
The lifelong Tampa resident said 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.
Others would disagree, saying Adams is the cause of her own problems.
This morning, inside the dingy motel room, Adams handed out a list of her children’s names and ages. Across the top: “Three fathers. One Mother. Fifteen Children.”
The 12 kids are the youngest of 15 altogether, she said. Three have “aged out,” meaning they have turned 18 and are on their own, no longer a part of the child welfare system.
Hillsborough Kids agreed to pay the $800 a month rent after caseworkers inspected the apartment and, though a bit cramped, said it was OK.
But the landlord, who evicted Adams in March, thought differently.
Sandy Chiellini said Adams showed up to sign the lease with Brown [Garry Brown, father of 10 of the children] and one child. She didn’t learn until later that there were 11 other children. There were problems with plumbing, downstairs tenants were flooded. There was noise, and occasional visits from police. Other tenants were complaining. Some left.
She said Adams’ apartment was trashed. Clothes and food were scattered everywhere, screens were broken out. Chiellini began eviction proceedings. Adams failed to show up for two eviction hearings.
Chiellini said Adams and her children left last Thursday, taking only the clothes on their backs.
Still, Adams was hesitant. She wanted to know about the long term.
“I need money,” she said. “I need transportation. My children need a place to live.”
Angel Adams’s 12 youngest children.