Vinton, VA (WFXR) — There are over 5,500 youth in foster care in Virginia alone, forty-five percent of those are thirteen-years-old and older. While the goal is ultimately to be able to reunite children with biological parents, fostering and adoption are oftentimes a child’s only chance at having a family.
The unfortunate reality is that in Virginia 19% of youth exiting Virginia foster care are exiting due to aging out at eighteen-years-old. This means Virginia ranks as one of the worst states in the United States for the percentage of children who age out of foster care without a permanent home.
In lieu of National Adoption Awareness month, therapeutic foster care service, First Home Care shares a recent success story of how seventeen-year-old, Breanna Burley has been given a second chance at family months away from her eighteenth birthday.
Breanna Burley was placed into foster care at age thirteen. First Home Care received a call from Bre’s local social services.
“I felt really really depressed, sad, and I felt hopeless and I felt like the world was just crashing down on me and it felt like there was no one there for me.”Breanna Burley – First Home Care, Adoptee
Unbeknownst to Breanna, her future father, Neil Leftwich would witness these processes of removal as a Roanoke County Sheriff’s Deputy.
“I work in juvenile domestic sometimes and I saw kids who are being removed from their homes and I had one particular little girl walk by me and say nobody loves me.”Neil Leftwich – First Home Care, Foster and Adoptive Parent
Ultimately, these experiences influenced Neil and wife, Kayla’s decision to start fostering in March of 2019. Fostering has been something Kayla has dreamt about her entire life. However, a teen wasn’t in the original plan.
“A teen was not in my mind. I had like smaller kids in mind when we first began this venture, kids around our bio kid’s who lives with us age…So, that’s what we thought mindset-wise but then as we got into this journey our hearts opened more and more and expanded to teenagers and really small kids. “Kayla Leftwich- First Home Care, Foster and Adoptive Parent
Kayla says adoption wasn’t anticipated either, but it just clicked, Breanna was meant to be a part of their family.
“We got to know her, she got to know us, and we began this journey and you know, it just feels right. We feel like she’s part of this family, we’ve felt that way for a while but we had to wait six months to even make it official because of the adoption process.”Kayla Leftwich- First Home Care, Foster and Adoptive Parent
Nearly five years and three foster families later, Breanna is officially in the process of being adopted.
“I just wanted to cry and just scream to the top of my lungs with joy. It just really hit my heart, like I was just like, ‘wow this is actually happening.’ I’m just ready to have a family that actually cares for me and loves me so I guess that’s what I have now.”Breanna Burley – First Home Care, Adoptee
During this season of adoption awareness it is important to realize that children do not age out from their need of love.
To learn more about fostering and adoption opportunities, click here.