A Family of Runners in Florida
Aubree had experienced a rocky childhood and adolescence. Her mother used drugs, traded sex for needs, and was in and out of jail. At five years old, Aubree had been abused and witnessed domestic abuse between her mother and mother’s boyfriend. Aubree was removed from the home and placed with her grandparents for a short time. During that time Aubree stayed out all night, snuck her boyfriend into the home and always seemed angry. Her grandparents felt overwhelmed and did not think they could care for Aubree anymore, so in February 2012 they took her to a youth shelter in Orlando, Florida.
The shelter did not work out very well for Aubree either. She habitually ran away and was depressed. Seeing that the group home placement was not going well for Aubree, the One Hope United team discussed other placement options with her. On Dec. 6, 2012, she was placed in a traditional foster home with first-time foster parents, Daniel and Sarah Hendess.
The Hendesses had hosted several teenage foreign exchange students over the years, and felt called to becoming foster parents. They knew they wanted a teenage foster child and as soon as they received the call that a teenage girl was in need of a placement, they offered Aubree a home.
“She was the brave one,” Sarah said. “She agreed to move in with strangers and to make the best of it. She really wanted to be with a family and she wanted to make it work.”
The family’s One Hope United case worker had discussed Aubree’s history of running away with the Hendesses. Sarah sat down with Aubree and told her that she hoped Aubree would never feel like her only option would be to run away, but if she ever did have that feeling that she should always come talk to them about what was bothering her.
Aubree has never run away from the Hendesses’ home, but the family has bonded a great deal from running together. The Hendesses have been runners for many years and invited Aubree to join their running group. Aubree is now training for her first 10K, which will be in December.
Aubree is enrolled in virtual high school and is expecting to graduate in December 2014. After she graduates she is thinking about joining the military or going to school to work in a human services field.
The Hendesses’ advice to families who are considering becoming foster parents is to “Just do it.” Sarah explained that the perfect time will never come, and you just have to make the decision.
“One of the great things about having a teenager is that she can articulate how she is feeling and what she needs,” said Sarah. “I think a lot of times people avoid fostering or adopting a teenager because they think it’s going to be trouble. Don’t overlook the older kids because there are good ones out there looking for someone who won’t turn them away.”