“I never allowed myself to dream.”

Camille is 16 years old. She had a shocking 26 foster family placements over 10 years. A little more than a year ago, Camille’s case came to Wayfinder—changing the trajectory of her life forever.

In 2012, Camille and her younger sisters, Maya, age 3, and Dani, age 1, were removed from their home due to their parents’ substance abuse and violent behavior. In their home, Camille had assumed a parental role, trying to protect her little sisters. Ultimately, 6-year-old Camille was the one who called the police, leading to the girls’ removal.

For five years, the three girls bounced from placement to placement, sometimes being moved to protect them from more abuse. Camille continued her parental role, which frustrated Maya. Camille would answer for Maya and correct her—a toxic dynamic known as “parentification” that didn’t allow Camille to work through her own trauma. Conflict between Camille and Maya escalated into physical fights. Child protective services made the difficult decision to separate Camille from her younger sisters.

While Maya and Dani were soon adopted, Camille continued to move from one foster home to another for five more years, feeling alone, unwanted and unadoptable.

Then, June, a Wayfinder social worker, learned about Camille and had the case transferred to us in early 2021. June refused to give up on Camille! At one of their first meetings, Camille told June that one of her dearest wishes was to be reunited with her sisters.

Meanwhile, Sam and Emma, the couple who had adopted Maya and Dani, had never stopped thinking about Camille. Sam and Emma had met her during sibling visits years ago. Maybe they should take Camille too?

Despite resistance from the county social workers, June advocated for Camille to reconnect with her sisters. Also, June coordinated with Camille’s treatment team to ensure the girl received mental health therapy to process her trauma—from the child welfare system, as well as her biological parents.

At first, June facilitated Zoom visits, then twice weekly in-person dinners. A few months later, Camille moved in with the family. When Sam and Emma signed the adoptive placement papers, Camille implored them, “Please don’t give up on me.” They responded, “No way, you’re stuck with us now!” Camille’s adoption became final in September.

During June’s final home visit, Camille told her, “I never allowed myself to dream of the future because I never thought I had a future. I thought I was going to die or be in prison.” Now, Camille is dreaming… of going to college and becoming a nurse. Camille’s dreams are coming true.

Note: all names and some minor details have been changed to protect privacy


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November 22, 2022