Jamie Durham is a sophomore at Leesville. She takes classes like anyone else does all the same work. Her only difference is the home she returns to every day: her foster home.
Durham has been with four different foster homes and has gone through two failed adoptions. Durham’s first family abused her, her second would not let her stay with her sister and her third just didn’t care. Currently, Durham is with her fourth foster home — one she describes as the best.
Though her first three homes may have been filled with bad memories, Durham says her fourth home’s somewhat bad memories are more like learning experiences than anything.
Lives are filled with moments to learn from, but Durham learned something incredible from a small falling-out with her foster mother — something she could never have learned with a different foster family.
“I went through a 10-day period without talking to my foster mother… I had all my bags packed — I just wanted to leave, but she wouldn’t give up on me,” said Durham.
Durham believes this is what makes her current foster mother so different: Unlike her past families, she stuck by her side and refused to give up.
“I couldn’t do anything but give in. Even though I was always mean to her, she was always nice to me… I’m just thankful she’s in my life,” Durham said.
Before her freshman year, Durham had trouble with holding onto her past — she developed an attitude and was often in trouble at school. In ninth grade, she turned things around with the help of her foster family.
“Last year — ninth grade — was the most exciting year because I didn’t get into any trouble, no referrals or anything,” said Durham.
Out of Durham’s two failed adoptions, one in particular stood out. The family called her names and called her “ghetto.” Durham refused to let them break her down.
“I don’t have to prove anything to anybody but myself. I’m just going to grow up, go to college and just prove them wrong about everything they said about me,” Durham said.
As an odyssey comes to an end, a new one is about to start for Durham — she is being adopted.
Durham knew the Stacys — the family adopting her — before the last failed adoption. After that adoption fell through, Durham’s adoption recruiter approached her about the Stacys once more. Durham was still interested in the Stacys, and, after staying with them over winter break, it all worked out.
“I love [my family],” said Durham. “I love my little brothers, I love my mother, I love my dad. We all have so much in common — it’s just great.”
When Durham first met the Stacys, she felt an instant connection.
“It was a funny feeling. I don’t know what they mean when they say ‘love at first sight,’ but I guess that’s what I felt,” Durham said.
Durham knew, as soon as she met her family, they were the family for her.
Durham’s early life has been a journey, filled with ups and downs, but she is far from bitter.
“A lot of people think of foster care as ‘so bad’… but really it’s just to help people, so I’m thankful that they do have social services to take care of kids,” said Durham.