At six years old, Raven was often left alone to take care of her baby brother Benji and her four year-old brother Gavin, while their drug and alcohol addicted mother would party with her friends. There were even times when their mother would drag the three children with her while she got wasted.
Neighbors took notice of the children’s situation and called CPS, but when the knock came at the door, their mother told the kids to hide and be quiet. It wasn’t until Raven showed up at school wearing her mother’s clothes that raised a red flag, and school officials intervened.
Their mother was allowed to have a final meal with the children at a McDonald’s before CPS took Raven and her brothers away. For the kids, it was just normal day playing on the McDonald’s playground equipment. Then their mother called them over and began crying as she told the kids they were going to be taken away from her, and she couldn’t do anything about it. The kids started crying and didn’t understand what was happening to them. Emotionally exhausted, Raven fell asleep on the long drive to their new foster parent’s house.
“We were in that home for about two years,” explains Raven, now 19 years old. “But those foster parents only wanted to adopt my baby brother, they didn’t want us older kids.”
The children’s Arrow Ambassador Family Specialist would not consider splitting up the siblings. She told the foster parents it was an all or nothing situation. So Raven and her brothers were taken to the home of Frank and Pam Rogers.
The Rogers had just previously fostered two other children they were hoping to adopt. But they were devastated when the judge granted custody of the children to their biological grandmother. Frank and Pam decided they just couldn’t go through that kind of heart break again. But Mala Ganapati, Arrow’s regional adoption coordinator, contacted the Rogers, and explained how much these three children needed them.
“My first impression of them was that they were very nice,” said Raven. “It’s funny, but they gave us presents the first night we got there, and of course, as a young kid, you’re automatically going to like those people. They were really good at making us feel welcome and making sure all of our needs were met. They always made sure we were doing something fun.”
As wonderful as the Rogers were to Raven and her brothers, Raven still had a lot to overcome from the years of neglect she suffered.
“I suffer from mild depression,” shares Raven. “I used to have to check all doors and windows to make sure they were locked. I also have a mild eating disorder, and once had to have food close to me constantly. I guess I was afraid I might not get any more.
“It hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. We definitely have had our problems, but we work it out. I’m very fortunate to have the parents I have now. I think if I were still with my birth mom now, I’d probably be pregnant, or on drugs. I may not even be alive.”
With Frank and Pam’s love and support, Raven is discovering her purpose in life. Which in many ways began when Frank and Pam were blessed to witness Raven’s baptism in 2014. Then this past semester at the University of Dallas, Raven began to get a clearer picture of what she wanted to do with her life. Even though Raven loved playing basketball for the school, which gave her a higher self-esteem, taught her discipline, and challenged her through competition, something in her heart was changing.
“I felt something much stronger pulling at me, kind of calling out to me to do something different,” said Raven. “I felt a much stronger need to start my future with social work and helping others, sooner rather than later. I really want to help other kids who have experienced the same things I did growing up.”
To follow Raven’s “calling,” she is transferring to a community college near her home, and she is switching majors from psychology to social work. She also contacted the local Arrow office to inquire about an internship or volunteering opportunities.
“I feel like I broke the cycle,” said Raven. “I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I think I’m a pretty good person. I work hard. I am very caring. I’m a strong Christian. I don’t drink or do drugs. I make good grades, and I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college with a degree. I think I turned out well.”
We think so too!
There are many ways to help a child who has suffered abuse or neglect. Of course, by becoming a foster parent, you’ll have the opportunity to make a direct and eternal impact, just like the Rogers had in Raven’s life. Learn more about fostering by attending one of our monthly information meetings. Details are available at www.arrow.org/meeting.