When Ariana was five years old, she had to be removed from her birth mother’s house after enduring years of abuse. “I had nightmares every single day. It was just really scary for me living there,” she shared. “I thought, ‘Where am I going to live? Who is going to take care of me? How am I going to make friends?’”
Sadly, Ariana’s experience is not unique. Far too many children are entering foster care because of abuse and neglect and many are not returning to their birth families because it is simply not safe.
For more than five years, Ariana bounced between foster homes, longing for a permanent home. That dream came true in 2014 when she was adopted by Chris and Joanna with support from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and her Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, Chelsea.
“I am so thankful for Chelsea,” said Ariana. “She feels like part of my family.”
After Ariana moved in with the family, Chelsea visited the family every month, helping Chris and Joanna navigate the adoption process. “We jumped from no kids straight into parenting a 10-year-old. It was a huge change,” says Joanna. “Chelsea was an awesome support.”
Now, Chris and Joanna can’t imagine their lives any other way. They have since adopted five more children from foster care: Adam, Conor, Gabe, Matthew and Winter.
“It has been fun to watch Arianna grow into the role of being a big sister,” Joanna shared. “She has shown us what true love looks like. She is such a gift to our family.”
Since adoption, Chris and Joanna have seen Ariana blossom in her ability to interact with others and become much more confident. She is finally able to trust people again.
Chris added, “From the get-go, we thought, we are here for Ariana as long as she needs us.”
“It’s a miracle being adopted and having a family, because it actually feels like you have someone who loves you,” Ariana said.
Fortunately, Ariana’s story has a happy outcome, but thousands of children are still waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States. You can help – give now.