Making the journey together

We first found out about Fatima during the autumn of 2015.

I think we saw her photograph on the SWAN website (Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network) and asked our caseworker for more information.

We had been in the search process for almost a year-and-a-half and hadn’t had any luck … and were trying not to get discouraged … Eventually, we received Fatima’s profile along with an email from one of her caseworkers stating that … [the] case required special consideration.

To be frank, Fatima … had been through much, and it showed. Nonetheless, we decided to go through with the interview and see where that took us. We figured that saying yes to the interview didn’t mean we were saying yes to the placement and it would give us an opportunity to discover more.… Many people told us not to go through with it … but there was something about this child that made us keep saying yes.

Near the end of 2015, we were told that another family had been chosen; we were crushed. But we still had to move on in our journey. Several months later, however, our caseworker [asked] if we were still interested in Fatima and, though shocked, we indicated we were … in the meantime, there was to be a matching event she would be at and … [although] we could not identify ourselves [because of the status of the adoption process at that point], we attended it.

The day I first met my daughter was her 10th birthday. She has no memory of playing several games of Uno with me, but I’ll never forget it. It took until May until things were official and we could start visits. She moved into our home July 18.

In the year and a half since she’s been ours, we have spent a great deal of time trying to find the right kind of therapy to help her deal with the trauma she’s experienced. We have worked with her doctor to take her off medications she didn’t need. We have become friends with others in similar situations. All of this has been an uphill journey, but a journey we wouldn’t trade—because we have been making it together.

Fatima is a wonderful young lady who does well in school, is wonderful with small children and animals, loves to play basketball, dreams of being a teacher and begrudgingly plays the saxophone. She participates in a singing group called Inclined to Sing, affiliated with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra; through that, she had the chance to sing Handel’s Messiah with the symphony last Christmas.

Fatima loves food and will eat anything except Brussels sprouts. Her favorites include sushi and seafood. As a family we love to travel. [At this writing,] we are preparing our annual Thanksgiving trip to Bethany Beach, Delaware, and also are planning a large-scale road trip for the summer of 2018.

Fatima needs continuing support in coming to terms with her past and preparing for her future. Our challenging days are, at least, equal to our good days, but we are finding that with love and patience she is becoming an amazing young woman who will show the world that foster care is somewhere you’ve been, not something you are.

~Catherine Lohr 

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