BRIGHTON, Mich. – Brienna Jones struggled in her early years.
At points she lived out of a car with her biological mother. She never knew where her next meal was coming from.
Now, after bouncing around in foster care and feeling like she wasn’t worthy of love, the Brighton teenager is in a home with two loving parents.
The couple who adopted her wants to inspire others to consider becoming a forever family for an older foster child, too.
Chuck and Casey Edwards fostered Brienna Jones. In the past, she’s rarely talked about homelessness, truancy and more -- but now, Brienna Jones is an open book.
The couple are empty nesters with time, energy and love to share. While getting a foster license they quickly learned that teenagers need homes the most.
“At first, I’ll be honest, I couldn’t stand them,” Brienna Jones said. “I personally was trying my hardest to get rid of them because I couldn’t handle people caring for the first time.”
At first, the arrangement was going to be temporary. Just a home until someone permanently adopted Brienna Jones.
“The weeks of transition led to more weeks, to more weeks, and then some months and we really fell in love with her,” Chuck Edwards said.
Brienna Jones fell in love with them in return. She went from poor grades and a poor outlook on life to a teenager that’s thriving.
In November, Brienna Jones became an official part of the family.
“They didn’t give up. They took a chance, unlike anyone that has been in my life. That’s a really good thing,” Brienna Jones said.
The family is now asking others to consider taking a chance on a teen. There are thousands of children who will age out of foster care.
Michelle Parra, with the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, said children who age out have nobody to fall back on.
Parra said the statistics show that homeless rates are up and pregnancy rates increase.
“There are a lot of benefits for youth to be adopted before they turn 18,” Parra said.
Parra said at any given time her organization alone is working with about 300 children that no one has shown interest in.
“A lot of families want infants,” Parra said. “But we see it on the other end. There’s a lot of great stories that come from adopting teenagers.”
Great stories that children like Brienna Jones thought were only fiction.
“Take a chance on one of these kids. They are great kids, they require special care. But I know there’s somebody watching right now that can do that."