We met Nate last summer when we were blessed to be his foster family for a couple of months. Nate had been in foster care since he was an infant, and he was recently placed back with his mother. Upon leaving his long term foster home, his mother developed a life threatening thyroid diagnosis and needed emergency surgery. Nate’s original foster family was unable to accept him back into their home, and that’s where we stepped in.
When Nate came to us, I learned that his reason for being is foster care was because of severe abuse from a ‘family friend’. When Nate was initially placed in foster care as an infant, he had over 20 broken and healing bones. What we heard next seemed unimaginable.
Nate and his mother came to the USA from The Congo in Africa on a ‘Visa lottery’ they had entered. Nate’s mother had to make the decision to leave behind her husband and son, in hopes they would join her and the new baby ( Nate ) in the near future. Annie decided to take the chance at a better life. She felt better about the decision because she would be starting this journey with the support of two ‘friends’ from her community in the Congo who also received a Visa. These ‘friends’ convinced Annie to join them, and they promised to assist and support each other until Annie’s husband and son could be reunited. Unfortunately, these people had a different plan for her all along. When they arrived in the states they used Annie as a slave. Annie and her infant son were severely abused by this couple. I don’t know all the details, but authorities were somehow notified and they were able to escape this horrific nightmare.
DCS became involved, and assisted Annie in getting on her feet and being reunited with Nate. DCS kept the case open well past the standard time to keep offering support for Annie, because they knew she wanted it. If you know anything about DCS, there aren’t many parents who would request to keep a case open. But Annie took advantage of this unfortunate situation and used her resources to become stable! A few months ago Annie and Nate’s case was eventually l closed through DCS. She currently does not qualify for any government assistance because she ‘makes too much’.
Last year when Nate was returned home to his momma, I met the DCS team at Annie and Nate’s apartment to discuss his case. In their apartment there was a couch and chair (stained and molded), a high chair, two mattresses on the floor and all other belongings were in trash bags. She had large containers of rice and some fresh veggies. I looked at this mother, so timid, yet still smiling. Annie stood back and watched as four American women sat in her living room, discussing her and her sons future.
At the time I was very new to foster care, it’s rules etc. I was not yet jaded by the brokenness. Seeing Nate and his mom living this way changed me. They were not here because of bad choices. It was the lack of opportunity. I shared a bit of this with our community, and they could see the support this woman still needed as well. My amazing friends and neighbors donated and completely furnished their entire apartment. I’m talking furniture, dishes, food, toiletries, all necessities etc.... But also window treatments, pictures on the wall, etc. They turned this house into a HOME for them. Annie was completely blown away!
Since that day, Annie has kept her house immaculate. Everything we added is still there, and exactly where we put it. She takes pride in her home, and seeing her son HAPPY, cared for and confident. There is not a week that goes by without a text from her giving us her love. She has blossomed SO much. I see her real smile now. She is seeing she can trust, and has told me many times that this is all an answer from God!
NOT ONCE, has Annie asked us for a thing. She has also sent us presents for Christmas!She is unbelievable and I just want to continue to support her and give her a community of support so she can get to where she desires to be! If you’re looking for the right place and person to bless this season, I’m telling you this is it. She doesn’t expect a thing and doesn’t take anything for granted. Blessing her is a domino effect!
I asked her what they needed and all she said was coats and winter boots. Those things have already been donated, but I think we can do even better for them. I wasn’t sure how else to get this out there, or collect funds/items for them, so that’s why we are doing a GoFundMe. All donations wilbe turned into a gift card, and we will take her to get all she needs!
1. a basic computer/lap top. Annie has not been able to get her drivers license in the US, despite her desire to do so! The test comes in French, but the study guide does not. A computer will allow her to take English classes, so she can then study for the test. A car would change a LOT for her and Nate!! She could move out of the area she is in bc she wouldn’t need to rely on public transportation. The place she lives right now is over $700 a month, and it is shocking to see the condition of this place. Cockroaches, furnace problems, cabinets falling apart, unusable appliances Etc. This would also allow her to choose a neighborhood for her and her son. One that fits them! SO I would say this request is probably most important.
2. A new mattress for Annie! She is currently in a queen sized bed. we did find her a beautiful headboard when we furnished their place, but unfortunately never found a proper mattress. She hasn’t mentioned this once, but all of us who saw it are having a very hard time knowing that is what she is sleeping on.
3. New clothes and shoes in proper sizes.
Annie- clothes size M, 6-8 pants, 6.5 shoes
Nate- clothes size 5T, shoes size 10.5 kids.
4. A stock of toiletries and cleaning products
to save her money in the future!
5. plastic containers to keep out the cockroaches!!! She has most of her food in them now, but needs more.
6. gift card for groceries!!
7. a gift card to ‘Christmas shop’ for her son. I have thought about things we could buy for Nate, that are ‘fun’, and I think the best thing to do is allow his momma to pick those out and bless her baby with them. I know this would make her heart explode!
Nate and Abby Custer
- Amie Huffman
- Mary Reasner
- Michele Ciriacks
- Michelle Devoe
- Brianne Bentley
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