My name is Deanna. When I was 3 1/2 years old and my sister Alyssa was just an infant, we were found all alone in a cardboard box a New Jersey swamp. We had been abused and neglected by our birth parents, and were placed into foster care.
Alyssa and I had three older siblings that were in foster care before us. When my birth parents became pregnant with me, they agreed to voluntarily over parental rights of my three siblings to the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), so they could keep me. Then, they went on to add to our family another little girl, my sister Alyssa. But my birth parents’ habits never changed. They severely neglected and abused Alyssa and me. My birth mother was never charged with any crime for what she had done to her children and my birth father agreed to a plea of a detached parent with no time in jail and a $50 fine.
Our experience in foster care was a safe and loving one. Our first foster placement was with a lady I came to know as Momma Jean and her husband Bernie. Alyssa and I both had many physical and developmental delays, and they fought very hard to keep us together in the same home. After being in this good foster home for one year, the state still wanted to put us back in our birth parents’ care, even though they received no training or services that would have taught them how to care for us properly.
Mama Jean and Bernie didn’t want us to get too attached to them, so we moved to a second foster home that also took good care of us and met all of our needs. The state knew when they placed us in this home that it was also not a forever home. Our foster parents, Nanna and Pop-Pop, were older and were also concerned about us bonding with them and making us suffer through another separation.
DYFS still had no real plans for our future, and my sister and I became part of a class action lawsuit that was filed by Children’s Rights against the state of New Jersey. This lawsuit provided us with the protection that we desperately needed. Even though the lawsuit did not seek monetary damages, my sister and I feel we got something much more valuable, a family and people we can call “Dad and Mom” forever!
Now, we’re free of the neglect and abandonment that we were forced to live in for so long! My family and I will be forever grateful to Children’s Rights for fighting for us when nobody else would. We have met many kind and loving people at Children’s Rights who are committed to saving children. We hope and pray that Children’s Rights will go on forever to be the voice of many children!
My sister Alyssa was with me all through foster care. We both understand that we were very fortunate to be together. Our biological family has been scattered, and we are the only two siblings that live together. During our adoption process my new parents were informed by DYFS that a sixth child was born in our biological family, but we didn’t know her whereabouts. My adoptive parents later learned that she was in foster care for four months during our adoption process. We believe her name is Brandi, and we are now trying to find her.
When Alyssa and I look back at our lives we realize that we were never alone. Our Heavenly Father was with us the whole time. He placed us with an adoptive father and mother who have a forever love for children. My new Dad and Mom gave me and Alyssa four more adopted sisters. They have taught us the true meaning of what it is to be loved! My Dad is a very silly person who makes us laugh a lot. He is not afraid to open up his heart to us and to talk to us about anything. My Mom is always there for us no matter what the need is. She helps all of us with our schooling. My Dad and Mom teach us about God’s amazing love! Alyssa and I know that God has always been with us.
For the children waiting in foster care now, don’t give up or lose hope.
It has been an honor in writing this for Children’s Rights! We will always consider them a part of our family.
Published on May 5, 2013 as part of Children’s Rights’ “Fostering the Future” campaign. The opinions expressed herein are those of the blog author and do not necessarily represent the views of Children’s Rights or its employees. Children’s Rights has not verified the author’s account.