Green Family Spotlight: Leaning on My Village
Aronda first considered adoption after battling infertility issues. When she heard good things about Arms Wide from a colleague, she took the first step by attending an Arms Wide information meeting. She met Arms Wide staff member Carrie Shephard, who helped her with the training process, and Terinisha Vann, her caseworker. From the very beginning, Aronda shared her decision to adopt as a single mom with those around her. “A lot of times women of color don’t talk about infertility,” Aronda said. “After sharing my story, many coworkers and friends started reaching out and asking about foster care adoption. They expressed their fears about being a single parent and adopting.” Aronda shares her story because she wants people to know that it is possible to foster or adopt as a single parent if you have a strong village of support.
After starting the adoption process in 2021, Aronda’s home study and training went quickly. But then she waited several months before getting a call for a placement. Finally on September 17, 2021, Aronda got a call about a 4-year-old girl, Harper, who was ready to come to her house the next day. “I got the call on a Friday, Harper came on Saturday by 9:30am, and she never left. I became a parent in less than 24 hours,” Aronda said.
When Harper arrived, she immediately started looking around the house and wanted to see her room. Aronda remembers the initial conversations and how frank Harper was, saying “I’ll call you Aronda,” and then started calling her “mom” a few hours later. The first meal they shared together was spaghetti, at Harper’s request! Harper wanted Aronda to sleep in her room the first night, and Aronda ended up sleeping on the air mattress for two weeks.
Meant to Be
From Day 1, Aronda says that having Harper in her home just felt right. Harper was open about what she expected, wondering “when does dad come home” and “where are my brothers and sisters?” They had honest conversations and how it was just the two of them.
“She began to understand that this is our family and she’s loved and cared for, even if it doesn’t look like her past families,” Aronda said.
Harper’s life was transformed through new experiences. She took her first plane ride on a vacation to California in October. They celebrated Harper’s 5th birthday in December, and she had her first birthday party. Aronda watched Harper develop her own identity, becoming a child who loves clothes, accessories and manicures.
Finally a Forever Family
After finalizing on April 26, 2022, they both knew this was their permanent family, and Harper was excited about her name change. Otherwise, Aronda says that things feel the same, minus all the paperwork and Child Protective Services visits required during adoptive placements.
“Everything feels the same because if I have a question I can still call or text Terinisha and she picks up the phone. I have the same level of support from Arms Wide as I did before finalizing.”
Now, the Greens spend time enjoying a variety of activities: play therapy, tumbling, swim, family therapy. Life is structured around what Harper needs. “My goal is always to give her a new experience at least once a month,” Aronda shared. New experiences so far include Children’s Museum Houston, Dewberry Farm, water parks, and fishing with grandparents.
Leaning on My Village
Even as a single mom, Aronda says that she has never felt alone during her adoption journey. There has always been a village of support surrounding her, whether through Arms Wide’s It Takes a Village initiative or her own personal village.
It Takes a Village
Aronda is part of Arms Wide’s It Takes a Village initiative, which addresses the disproportionality of Black children in foster care. It Takes a Village both educates the community about disproportionality in foster care and creates a community of support for foster and adoptive parents to improve outcomes for children. Before getting involved in the program, she knew that Black children were overrepresented in the system. However, it wasn’t until she started her adoption process that it really hit home. “You don’t see a lot of families that look like you in training,” Aronda said.
“I saw that one of the reasons there is an overrepresentation of Black children in foster care is because there aren’t people who look like them in the [foster care/adoption] process.”
She wants people to know that these children are here in foster care and deserve loving families. “If there is any desire in someone’s heart [to foster or adopt], the best thing to do is find an organization that can help you parent. I had a really great experience with Arms Wide. It is very important that when people are starting the process to find the best fit for them.”
My Own Personal Village
She has leaned on her own personal village—her family, friends and coworkers at the school where she is a principal—throughout the process as well.
“I was coming into the process as a single parent. Having the support of a team of family and coworkers was vital,” Aronda said.
“My daughter is my school’s child because my coworkers were so much part of the process, part of the village. They wanted to know every aspect of what was going on and were a crucial part of her welcome shower and first birthday party. They helped make sure she had all the things she needed.”
Throughout her adoption journey, Aronda has learned that there’s not a formula or a right or wrong way to do it. “Trust your instincts to lead and guide you,” Aronda said. “At end of day, your goal is to be the best parent for your child. You will need to ask questions, it’s okay to reach out and ask for help.” And that’s what leaning on your village is all about.