Disclaimer: All names and images have been changed to protect people’s identities.

Having been in foster care since she was 9 years old, 14-year-old Gabriela knows how to keep people at a distance. After all the rejection she’s faced, she puts up her walls whenever she meets people, afraid to let them in.  

Gabriela’s mother, Regina, is a drug user. Gabriela had been removed from the home once it was clear that Regina prioritized substances over caring for her daughter. However, Gabriela maintains contact with her mother so she can keep an eye on her four-year-old sister, Ines.  

Because there hasn’t been enough evidence of Regina’s drug usage, Ines remains in Regina’s care, which terrifies Gabriela. She often lays awake at night worrying about the dangers Ines faces living in Regina’s home and feeling helpless to protect her, things no 14-year-old should have to struggle with. 

Thankfully, Gabriela has a trusted adult in her life: Cassidy, a former Parent Aide. Occasionally, Gabriela stays with Cassidy to take a break from her current foster family. With Cassidy, Gabriela feels safe and loved. While her biological family had not been so accepting of her identity, Gabriela knows Cassidy accepts her for who she is. She doesn’t feel like she has to bear the responsibilities of an adult, because Cassidy will take care of her.  

The feelings of love are mutual. Cassidy has a fondness for this stubborn 14-year-old, and would even like to take Gabriela permanently – but only if Gabriela cuts off contact with her mother. 

Though in the past Regina has struggled with mental health issues and addiction, she has been making strides toward being a better mother to both Ines and Gabriela. She’s maintained sobriety for six months and has begun taking foster parent licensing classes that pertain to Gabriela. 

Cassidy would have peace of mind with Regina out of Gabriela’s life, but for Gabriela, the choice isn’t so easy. After all, despite the heartache she has caused, Regina is still Gabriela’s mother. Plus, if Gabriela cuts off contact with Regina, she cuts off contact with Ines. Gabriela feels paralyzed at the thought of not being able to see her little sister. 

Gabriela won’t have to make this difficult decision alone. No matter which outcome she chooses, our Extreme Family Finding specialists will make sure Gabriela feels encouraged and supported along the way. 

Because of donors like you, FosterAdopt Connect is able to fund programs like Extreme Family Finding to ensure kids like Gabriela have safe homes and devoted families. Your generosity is life-changing for foster and adopted children in Kansas and Missouri – thank you!