Guest post by Kay Gore, former caseworker and Florida Youth Leadership Academy mentor who adopted her FYLA mentee, Brittany.
During my second year as a mentor in the Florida Youth Leadership Academy (FYLA), I was blessed to meet a wonderful young lady, Brittany. We both come from different worlds – me a single mom who had called Jacksonville home for 10 years, and her a country girl from Nassau County. Seemingly there was nothing we had in common.
She was in foster care like the majority of the kids I had come in contact with over the years and they all had a stereotypical view about their case workers and administrators – that this is a job and this is what we are supposed to do care about them.
Nine months we were in the car together traveling and talking as we went to and from FYLA events. She was able to share her dreams and desires with me. I saw a young person who was begging to be a child again.
I asked one day if she would consider being adopted outside of her race, and she said that she did not care who adopted her as long as they loved her. The seed was planted. Time went on and she was available for adoption and there were families interested , but they all fell through.
She graduated from FYLA and life went on. Eventually, I left the child welfare field, but I still wondered about that smiling little girl from Nassau County who I had shared so much with and had grown to care about. I learned that she had been having a hard time. God had placed on my heart that day two years ago that this little girl was supposed to be a part of my family. So the process began to make that happen.
When I was her mentor, I saw her face light up when she visited her first college campus and fell in love with the idea that she could sit at one of those desks. Or the day the shy girl that did not like to speak in public, voiced her opinion in a room full of people. There were a lot of firsts that I was able to experience as her mentor.
Now, I will be able to experience them as her mom. Her first day of college, her college graduation, the day she gets married and the day way down the road that she might make me a grandparent. All of this would not have been possible if I had not taken the time to really get to know and serve a young person that I came in contact with on daily basis in the child welfare field. Many say I am just a caseworker and I can’t save them all. Not all will be saved, but it will just take that one to show the others that there are people out there who care about them and want them to succeed in life. So if you take the time to mentor a youth, you will learn so much more about the young people we serve than what is in the case files.
For more information about adoption and children available for adoption in Florida, visit www.adoptflorida.org or call 1-800-962-3678.