This April, 37 years ago, the day began as a normal one . . . heavily in the throes of tax season, getting ready for some meetings, and taking care of things for my father as my mother had passed away not quite two weeks earlier. Then at 9:00 am, the phone rang, and news that our baby girl was here was on the other end of the line. It was Mrs. Stafford, our Gladney Caseworker and "the very most important person in our lives.” In our minds and those of many of our friends, she held the key for our future as a family. Now having years of history with Gladney, I know Mrs. Stafford and many other very wise professionals were part of a very educated, emotional plan for the creation of our family and, needless to say, a plan for our children’s' birth mothers.
It was now about 10:00 am. I had laundered the gown I had purchased for this baby and was ironing it for some crazy reason - would she ever notice? Probably not. The doorbell rang, and it was a precious friend, bringing me flowers to lift my heart for missing my mother. She was greeted instead with huge tears of joy because our daughter Claire was now here!
Who would have thought I would be standing in the kitchen with my family in mid-April of my senior year when the governor made the announcement we were done? Deep down, I had a feeling this was coming, but it does not make it any easier. I left my high school on March 12, 2020, for spring break, unaware I would never walk back into the school as a student again. It leaves me... well, it leaves me heartbroken.
In August 2016, I began high school as a wide-eyed, nervous, awkward, metal-mouthed, and excited freshman. I had no idea how the next four years would shape me into the person I am today... a strong, confident, God-fearing, young woman, ready to take on the world.
I am the person I am today because of the people and experiences I have had over these past four years. I have had experiences that not many other high schoolers can say they have had, and I have met people who have pushed me to be the very best I can be.... people who encourage me to chase my dreams and improve every day.
From leading a student organization I started during freshman year to marching in the Rose Bowl Parade last year, I leave knowing I gave these past four years all I had to offer. I am walking away from high school knowing what it means to work hard and to persevere through hardships. I am walking away knowing the power of the connections you make with others and how those connections can lead you to do really great things.
I am crushed. I really am. I had no idea I would not see my third graders again and would not have any more study sessions at "my special table" at the top of the main stairs, where I spent many 4th periods, class times, and even after school hours. I did not know I had my last college math class in room 2465, where we stood outside and talked until the bell rang, forcing us to go in and get to work. I am going to miss the high fives from coaches in the hallway, my classmates, my teachers, and even parking in Timbuktu and walking in after interning at the elementary school. It hurts a lot knowing I am not going to have these experiences anymore, but I am looking forward to the day when I can go back in and reminisce on all of the memories high school gave me and talk to teachers again who made a huge difference in my life.
Over these past four years, I have learned to follow my heart in anything and everything I do. I have learned to try new things and put myself out there, even when I was afraid to do so. Most of all, I have figured out what I want to do in life. I can see beyond all of this and am excited for where I am headed. Is this year ending the way I wanted it to? Not at all, but there is no better feeling than closing one chapter, knowing I did all I could do.
Here's to the future, here's to more memories, and here's to adulthood. School may be done, but like they always said, "Once a jag, always a jag."
God Bless & Go Jags!
Zhanna, Gladney Adult Adoptee
Late last year, WFAA shared a wonderful update in their Wednesday's Child segment. Eric, a 17-year-old boy in foster care, was featured in October 2019. That appearance inspired a Gladney Family to take action. By November, just six days before his 18th birthday, Eric officially became a member of their family.
Jenae is a Gladney Mom, and she will be running the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon as part of Gladney's charity team. In addition to physically training, she has been fundraising to support Gladney in creating bright futures through adoption. Thank you, Jenae!