I am a hugger. I love hugs and this year I somehow got to hug a lot of students who seemed to really need it. I hugged one student who shared her story of meeting her birth father in between the fall and spring semester presentations because she felt ready after my recommendation of seeking counseling prior in order to prepare for reunification. I also hugged a student who had a friend that placed her daughter for adoption and when the presentation was over said she was thankful we were there to share facts so that her friend felt accepted. She shared her friend was proud of her decision but that not a lot of their classmates understood it. My most memorable hug came when a young girl who approached me in tears and asked if her Grandma could adopt her because she didn’t want her biological Mom to come back and she needed a legal guardian to put down on her FAFSA for college.
When she approached me after class she was extremely emotional and kept repeating that she didn’t want her mom to come back and didn’t know how to contact her even if she were to attempt to reach out. She had a 4.5 GPA, held a job working nights and weekends and was accepted into TCU with a $20,000 scholarship even though she had been in and out of foster care multiple times throughout her lifetime. She has goals of becoming a Nurse. She also had concerns about how this would affect her younger siblings. So many heavy questions for a young girl who should be excited about prom and end of year activities. I was so proud of Gladney jumping to support her when I asked how we could help with this particular senior at Paschal High School. Her teacher said she had no idea that she was struggling at home because she always has a smile on her face and makes good grades. I have exchanged text with her and thanks to Gladney’s legal team we were able to get her the information she needed to make a decision whether to become considered a homeless youth or be adopted by her Grandma.