"At the end of the day, it's worth it. I get to be someone's mom. I get to see her succeed," says Aisha Turner as she talks about her experience as a Cunningham Foster Parent for 14-year-old, Selena.
In July of 2013, Cunningham called Aisha with hopes of finding immediate care for Selena who was acting out and struggling in other foster homes because of the trauma she experienced early in her life. Aisha remembers the events clearly, "Selena wasn't supposed to be a permanent placement. But she came on Saturday, and on Monday when they came to get her, she didn't want to leave. I knew she had to stay."
Aisha, a daycare provider, admits that the experience has been challenging, but "nothing I can't handle. Kids who have been abused need a lot of attention. They need someone to be there for them."
Real heartbreak came for Selena last year while she was in Aisha's care. She learned that she would not be able to return to her biological mother. The young teen was crushed and reverted back to unsafe behaviors. But Aisha didn't falter in her love and support of Selena. She worked with Cunningham's therapists and case workers to help get her to a healthy place both emotionally and behaviorally.
Aisha says, "Nobody is perfect. She made mistakes but I'm showing her the right way to become a young adult. I'm there to listen and understand what she's been through. I want her to know I'll always be there."
And if all goes as planned, Aisha will always be there for Selena. They are currently working with Cunningham staff to help Aisha get subsidized guardianship of Selena in 2016. Hope begins here.
Would you consider giving hope to a youth? Please call Cunningham's Family Development Specialists Allison Chrisman or Sandy Shannon at 217-337-9057 to find out more about becoming a foster parent.
*All stories are real, however names are changed and photos selected to protect the privacy of our youth.