“She’s my daughter.” — Josefina, Heather’s foster mother
Heather has come a long way. The 7-year-old who threw things and hit walls during her tantrums is now an 18-year-old college freshman. Heather’s resilience and intelligence were always inside her. But she needed someone to bring out the best in her.
That someone was Josefina, the foster mom in Wayfinder’s Foster Care and Adoption program who gave Heather a home and changed the course of her life.
Until age 7, Heather was raised by her grandparents, who didn’t know why Heather was angry or how to cope with her tantrums. “The pain was from being separated at a young age from my family,” explains Heather. “The pain built up and I didn’t know what to do.” Overwhelmed, her grandparents put Heather in foster care.
Wayfinder placed Heather with Josefina and her husband, José. Josefina could tell that, despite her tantrums, Heather was a good girl.
For two years, the tantrums continued, “but Josefina and José knew what to do to calm me down,” Heather recalls. “They would tell me to breathe.” Little by little, Heather learned to control her anger and pain. She became an honor-roll student.
When Heather was 10, her biological father asked for her to live with him. “It was horrible,” Heather recalls. “There was abuse and neglect. I felt like I was nothing to him.” She told her therapist and asked to return to Josefina.
“I felt Josefina and José were my family,” says Heather. “Even their family in Mexico treats me like I’m part of them.”
Heather has fully embraced Josefina and José’s culture. She speaks Spanish fluently and had a quinceañera, a celebration of the transition to womanhood at age 15. “She is a white girl with blue eyes and blonde hair,” Josefina laughs, “But she’s a really good Latina.”
According to Sylvia, their Wayfinder social worker, “Josefina has educated Heather to believe in herself.”
Now, Heather is pursuing a degree in respiratory therapy. Heather’s resilience helped her overcome the heartache of losing her birth family. She continues to live with the loving family that welcomed her. About Heather, Josefina says simply, “She’s my daughter.”
January 7, 2020