On this frigid November Saturday before Thanksgiving, Natasha Reilly was finally able to officially call Ann Reilly, Mom.
Natasha and Ann were greeted by a thundering applause as they made their adoption official in front of the packed Moultrie Courthouse atrium for the 28th D.C. Adoption Day ceremony on November 22, 2014.
“I feel like a brand new person today,” says Natasha in an interview following the ceremony.
Although 38 other foster infants, children and young adults were officially adopted during the ceremony today, 19 year-old Natasha’s case struck home for Ann’s coworkers at the Child and Family Services Agency, where she works as a CFSA supervisory social worker.
As of September 2014, CFSA stated 1,120 children are in out-of-home foster care, and almost a quarter of them are, like Natasha, between the ages of 18-21, of which only a small percentage of them are adopted. The statistics were not in Natasha’s favor.
They met accidentally in 2013. Natasha says she was ill and being cared for at her former social worker “Miss Molly’s” home when Ann stopped by. They got to know each other that day, and from then on Natasha says her and Ann were inseparable.
Half a year later, Natasha says she was surprised when Ann told her she had cut through all the CFSA “red tape” prohibiting her from adopting within the system. Natasha was finally getting adopted. 22nd
Although CFSA agents are usually prohibited from adopting children within the foster system due to a conflict of interest, Natasha and Ann became the exception, and today everyone rejoiced with them.
To help other children in the D.C. foster system, Natasha says she plans to start a nonprofit called Voice, where she can inspire others like her to get through similar situations she found herself in before she met Ann, like crime and abuse.
“This is a close-knit community,” says Natasha of the D.C. foster care system. David McDermott and Charles DeSantist, who adopted 21 month-old twins Lily and Jasmine today, actually helped Natasha find the job she she has now cleaning houses in northwest D.C.
McDermott said in an interview today, it was finally starting to feel normal having four babies in the house. In February 2015, it will be two years they’ve had the whole family together.
Today, Natasha has her high school diploma and a job: two things she says she didn’t think she’d have before meeting Ann.