Beautiful. Sweet. Playful. Girly girl. Smart. Driven. Animal Lover. Polite. Ready to be adopted today.
13-year-old Danielle has been in foster care for several years. Fortunately, she is in a loving home with a single mom and foster sister, but it is temporary.
Danielle will turn 14 in September. That's one year closer to aging out of the foster care system. This year is a critical year to adopt Danielle. She needs someone to help her see her dreams come true. She wants to go to college and become a veterinarian. She wants to be someone's daughter. She wants what every child deserves: stability, love and someone that is proud to be her parent.
The clock is ticking for Danielle and she knows it. When I met her at Club Tabby in Lake Charles for our filming day, she was cautiously guarded about sharing her hope to be adopted. She knows it might not happen. It hasn't happened for the years she's been waiting, but she bravely agreed to talk on camera with the dream of the outcome being different this time.
We kicked things off with manicures and pedicures. Danielle had specially painted her fingernails and toe nails for her TV debut, but was happy to remove it in order to get her first "professional nail painting."
Danielle said if she could do anything for one day, this is exactly what she would do.
I could slowly feel the heaviness this tiny teen carried begin to lighten.
Next, it was interview time. On a scale of 1-10, Danielle told me her nerves were at a 7. She knows this is it. Her biggest chance for a potential adoptive parent to hear her story.
Danielle took off her glasses. She tucked her hair behind her ears, sat up straight and her foster mother adjusted her leopard print shirt. Then the questions came.
Do you know what it means to be adopted?
You stay in that place forever.
If a family said that they were willing to adopt you, would you want to tell them anything?
That I'd be excited to come with you.
Does it matter to you if you if you live in a big city or small town?
What about the color of their skin?
Does it matter if you're the youngest or oldest kid in the home?
Danielle has been with her foster mother, Vickie Moreno, for the past three years. "She has a lot of love, she has a great personality," she said. "You wouldn't have to instill a lot into her. She would be bringing a lot with her."
Both Vickie and Danielle's adoption worker, Katrina Evans with the Department of Children & Family Services, know that if an adoption does not happen soon, this beautiful young lady with so much potential is at a much higher risk of aging out of foster care. "That means if by the time a child turns 18, a permanent home has not been found for them" said Katrina. "When they turn 18, it can be a scary time."
When I asked Danielle if the thought of getting adopted was exciting or scary, she had this to say. "It's a little of both. Scary because I won't know them and I would be going to a new place, but exciting because I would stay there and have a family."
Danielle says she has been through some tough times, but still shines and wants an adoptive family to know this: "That I'm awesome," she said.
Danielle is legally free to be adopted through the Department of Children & Family Services. Call 337-491-2470 to make an inquiry.
Click here to see Danielle's story that aired in The New Family Tree on KPLC.