“Sometimes adults don’t know what’s best…Asking the youth what their needs are — that’s the biggest thing that should happen. They’re the experts.” So says Naimah Johnson in an article, published November 1, 2015 in the Associated Press, on “Foster-care agencies step up efforts on behalf of LGBT youth“.
Read the full story of Naimah’s unplanned path to parenthood: how she realized that Ashley, a young woman she already knew and loved, needed a parent – and that she could be the mom Ashley needed. Click on the video below to watch Naimah and Ashley tell their story!
Ashley and Naimah met early into Ashley’s freshman year of high school. Naimah was Ashley’s therapist at the time and helped her navigate the foster care system and all the tough decisions it presented for her. They instantly clicked and with Naimah, Ashley experienced an understanding and care she had not experienced anywhere else.
Early into their work together, Naimah was presented with brighter job opportunities and she made the hard decision to work elsewhere, leaving her role as Ashley’s therapist. This change left Ashley feeling devastated, facing another loss. It was at that time that they committed to always stay connected and their even more dynamic journey began.
Over the following three years, Ashley persevered through a great deal of challenges, trials, and uncertainties all while focused on her education and long term goal of going to college. As new hardships presented themselves, Ashley reached out to Naimah, for support and the sense of understanding, in which she previously found comfort.
Time moved forward and Ashley was able to fully engage in her high school experience, with the support of many great people. Whenever there were moments of success, change, or even uncertainty, Ashley kept Naimah close by. By her senior year of high school, Ashley was closer to achieving her goal of going to college but was still without a safe and permanent home – a place worth returning to.
Naimah recognized how much Ashley had achieved over the years and knew deep down that she deserved to experience a forever family and a place that she could call home. It was at that time that she was introduced to You Gotta Believe and sought their guidance in making her connection with Ashley forever, lasting and one that could only be described as family.
The journey towards becoming a family included a great deal of ups and downs, as well as learning and growing together as a family. The support of YGB, created a sense of safety and assurance that carried them to this moment.
Today, Naimah is proud to call Ashley her daughter. She says, “Without the support of the incredible team at You Gotta Believe, Ashley and I would not have made it to where we are today as a family and I would not have gained a great deal of the skills and support needed to parent a teen for the first time. You Gotta Believe remains one of the most influential forces in our lives as a family and we feel strongly in their ability to make a difference in the lives of many other teens, like Ashley.