She was 12 years old when I met her. Her case was unlike the others. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make a connection with her.
She was young and fun and full of life; I was a prude by every definition of the word.
She was unique; I was predictable.
She worshipped Marilyn Manson; I worshipped Jesus.
We were polar opposites but despite our many differences, I knew there was one thing we had in common—love, and I was determined to love my way into her heart.
Each time I saw her, I knew two things would happen – her crazy antics would bring a smile to my face, and I would learn something new. I learned so much from her.
As her case progressed, it broke by heart to come to the realization that even though I knew her mother loved her the best she could, the best she could wasn’t good enough, and we weren’t going to be able to keep them together.
Working for Child Protective Services (CPS) wasn’t easy. I was responsible for aiding in the courts determination of whether or not a parent was fit to continue caring for their child. That’s a lot of responsibility for a 20-something. But despite the challenges of the job, one of the greatest benefits of working for CPS was the ability to show children they were deserving of love. Pouring into the kids on our caseload and ensuring they were set up for the best possible future was the goal we all hoped to achieve.
Each time I placed Zoie in a new foster home, I prayed they would accept her. I prayed they would understand her. I prayed they would show her the love she deserved.
She was 12 when I got her case and she was 13 when I left CPS. I worried about her and I prayed for her future. I was committed to keeping in touch and most importantly, I was committed to showing her that she was absolutely 100% deserving of love, attention, affection and acceptance.
Today she is 20 years old. For the last eight years, I have watched her grow and stayed in touch as she’s transitioned through each phase of the foster care system. She has had highs and lows. She has flourished and she has stumbled but through it all she has demonstrated incredible resilience, strength, independence and determination.
She is the reason I started this home. She is my life. She is Zoie.