16-year-old Rookie Feria Morisett Noe spent 11 years of her life in the foster care system. Not because she couldn't find the right home, but because it took so long for her adoption to go through.
When I was a baby, the woman who gave birth to me, Marie, was having a psychotic break and someone called the police. They looked her up and they found she’d been investigated for child neglect many times before. My two older biological sisters and I were placed in foster care. We got lucky--all three of us were placed with Ma. I’ve called my mom “Ma” ever since I could talk. She already had two daughters of her own, so there were always at least five of us girls, sometimes as many as eight.
My mom grew up without her own parents. She always says that’s the reason why she became a foster mom.
“I never made it an issue until I met my mom and see how messed up she is in her head. Right now it don’t even bother me. Because I feel like if I grew up with her I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today. I think I was dealt a good card because my auntie was there, my grandma was there for me, my grandfather was there for me.”
I can say the exact same thing, that I was dealt a good set of cards. My mom never introduced me as “this is my foster child.” She just said “these are my daughters” and that was it.
While in foster care, we had to see caseworkers regularly. The longest caseworker I ever had was Ms. Amin. I visited her recently for the first time in several years. She told me that when a child is removed from her home after thirty days “the clock starts ticking. When you reach the 11th or 12th month in foster care, now the case planner and the agency have to work toward ‘ok, are we reunifying this child with her parent, his parent or are we moving towards adoption?’ A child should not be in foster care longer than two years without getting in a permanent home.”
It’s shocking to hear the goal is two years. It took 11 years for me to be adopted. Miss Amin says it took so long because they had to terminate my birth mother’s rights. And then my two older biological sisters started having problems. They were in and out of psych wards and group homes.
Miss Amin asked me if I ever had the worry that I was going to be removed from the home. I always had the fear the agency would find something wrong and take me away from Ma.
Then, one morning in June 2013, I got up and got dressed in an outfit Ma had bought. She did my hair half up in a ponytail and half down with my bangs. We went to Family Court, and the judge said, “Now the adoption is finalized and you’ll get your new birth certificate in a few of weeks.” We hugged and took a picture with the judge. Then we went to IHOP.
I still live with the memories of waiting 11 years to be adopted. When you’ve been abandoned once you just think – it could happen again. For the first 10 years of my life, I used to share a room with both my biological sisters, one time when they ran away, one of them just left a letter on my pillow telling me she’d gone. It took me a couple of years to get used to sleeping alone.
Listen to Feria’s story to hear what her mom says when she asked her if she ever thought about giving up on the adoption.