Nefertiti’s biological mother suffered from drug addiction. Nefertiti spent the first three months of her life in the hospital and was exposed to effects of her mother’s drug use until the age of 8. Before the Administration for Child Services (ACS) could intervene, Nefertiti’s grandmother took custody of her. Nefertiti cried the entire trip from the Bronx to Brooklyn, where her grandmother lived. Life with her grandmother was initially better. But after some time, her grandmother became physically and verbally abusive. At an age where most kids were learning how to ride a bike, Nefertiti had to learn to cook, clean and take care of herself. She saw school as her escape and recalls with pride earning academic awards like Student of the Month and Honor Roll. Eventually, after several serious incidences, Nefertiti asked her grandmother to give up custody of her. Nefertiti, at age 14, was placed at St. Helena’s Community House, a group home for adolescent girls. Her time at St. Helena’s was good, and the first step toward a stable lie.
Loretta always wanted to be a mother, and in 2007 she decided to turn to foster care to start her family. Her first experiences with the process seemed too good to be true. Loretta had told the agency she was initially working with that she didn’t know if she could parent full time. The agency assured her that is was no problem with them if she returned the child to their care if she couldn’t handle it. The initial relief Loretta felt wore off when she considered the child’s feelings. She was afraid she would hurt the youth’s feelings, and make him/her feel abandoned or unloved if she had the agency remove the child from her home. She also had negative experiences when she wanted to foster teens. She felt that she wanted a teen girl, but an agency caseworker discouraged her and told her, “Girls get pregnant and talk back.” The worker would not hear of her fostering a teen. She wrote in her file that Loretta was to foster boys, no older than seven.
Th en Loretta was connected to You Gotta Believe – and her experience was completely different. She spoke with a supportive staff member for over an hour about her fear of not being able to parent full time. She was encouraged to think about parenting as an unconditional, lifetime commitment. The conversation gave her perspective and allowed her to transform into a parent – and make that lifetime commitment to a young adult in need. She moved forward with the process of becoming an adoptive parent, rather than a foster parent.
Loretta met Nefertiti on one of YGB’s teen panels. Because Nefertiti was 20, Loretta thought she was too old to be adopted. Through YGB she learned she was wrong. In 2007, Nefertiti moved into Loretta’s house and spent Christmas with her family. She was officially adopted in June 2008.
“Nefertiti has blossomed into a beautiful woman,” Loretta says. Now in her mid-20s, and with Loretta’s unconditional love and support, Nefertiti has finished her high school degree, gone to trade schools, and some college. She has her own business and has maintained a steady clientele for years.
Loretta was so moved by her experience with YGB, she left a lucrative job and joined the YGB team in 2012. Loretta said. “I am proud to work alongside some of the biggest, hardest working Believers in the world.“