One day I got a call from my dear friend, Mandi Cooper, asking if we would consider doing a week long respite for a teenage girl. Her foster parents were scheduled to go out of the country and they had been unable to find someone willing to take her for the week. It is hard to place teenagers in a foster home and it’s even harder to find someone willing to do respite for them. I talked it over with Todd and the kids and we all agreed that if there was a child in need, we would be there to help.
A few days later we met Brittney and her foster parents. They came by so that we could get to know each other before Brittney stayed with us for a week. That’s not something foster kids usually get; they are generally removed from their homes and taken to live with complete strangers without notice. There’s no “getting to know you” period beforehand.
She was so nervous about meeting us and was worried that we would be some crazy, weird family that she would want nothing to do with at all. She even talked her foster mom into shortening her stay with us by two nights by having her agree to let her come over Monday after school instead of Sunday afternoon and then go home Friday after school instead of Saturday morning. I don’t blame her one bit; I wouldn’t want to stay with a bunch of strangers any longer than I had to either.
Mandi agreed to pick her up at school and deliver her to us in the afternoons. Her school was right down the street from Mandi’s house, but about 20 or so minutes from ours, so that worked out fabulously. Mandi thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her and I do believe the feeling was mutual. Brittney and Sissy hit it off as well. About half way through the week, Brittney asked her if she thought we’d let her stay a few extra days with us instead of making her go home on Friday as originally planned. Of course, we said yes.
From that point on, Brittney spent almost every weekend at our house and many days during the week. When she couldn’t be with us, she’d stay with Mandi and her family, which by now had become our extended family. After about a month and a half of this, Brittney told Sissy she wanted to live with us permanently. She had a hard time expressing this desire, as she had already had her heart broken by one adoptive family and was terrified of having that happen again. We all talked it over and assured her that we weren’t going anywhere and if she so chose, neither was she.
Things went back and forth with her then-foster parents: they started out supportive of her being with us, then decided they wouldn’t support the move, then would, then wouldn’t, etc. Her case manager was dead-set against her moving with us, even though it was what everyone wanted and would be the best thing for her in the long run. It took about six weeks before we could make her move to our house happen, and it took her case manager being replaced with one who actually does her job (Hi Kendra!!) and a judge saying a few choice words to the supervisors at DCS, but we finally got our Britt Britt placed in our home on June 22; exactly 6 months and 16 days before her 18th birthday. DCS regulations require the child to be in your home for six months before you can adopt them; we got in just under the wire.