ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — When Serienna’s not getting lost in a graphic novel, she can be found writing about her past experiences.
It’s been four years since she was removed from her biological home and placed into Arkansas’ foster care system. Ever since, she has moved from foster home to foster home around the state, which has been extremely difficult on her.
“People always got to ask you about your trauma and there’s extra therapy and stuff,” Serienna said.
That trauma she mentioned stems from a childhood of abuse and neglect, but also some unfortunate things that happened to her while in foster care.
Serienna said, “I shut down because that’s what I do when I get upset, I shut down.”
The 12-year-old, who will turn 13 in October, was almost adopted but said the family ultimately decided not to take her in because she has autism.
“I want [parents] to love me for who I am and not give me up just because I have autism,” said Serienna.
“Take Serienna as she is,” Daniela Salamo continued, “the autism that she has, high functioning. Hers is more of a boundary thing. She just struggles with boundaries.”
Salamo is Serienna’s adoption specialist with the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
She and others with DCFS are working with Serienna to help her work through some of her issues from her past.
“She needs that person who’s willing to… look at her and say okay, I see you where you’re at and I don’t understand everything about you because that’s impossible, but I’m going to continue to strive to get to where I can understand you in the best way possible,” said Salamo.
Since she has struggled to find a permanent home, Serienna has some serious questions for anyone who even considers adopting her.
“I would ask them if they’re ready by asking them, are you sure?” she said. “How much are you willing to put up with?”
Because mentally, she can’t fathom the possibility of almost getting adopted, to end up back in foster care, yet again.
Not only does she have questions, but also some demands. She is adamant that she does not want a family that uses drugs or alcohol.
It’s also important to her that she find people who share similar values because she said, “I really don’t want a family who doesn’t like ‘black lives matter’ because that is probably the most important thing to me.”
Living with men is also a concern of hers.
She said, “I’m not very comfortable around men but if you can earn my trust then I can trust you to be my father.”
Salamo and Serienna agree, she needs to be able to maintain contact with her brother, who was already adopted.
“She needs a family that can actually show her what the definition of love is, what a healthy love looks like,” said Salamo.
Mostly though, the 7th grader just wants to feel wanted.
“A family who can understand what I need to talk about what I’ve been through,” Serienna continued, “they’ll love me even if I do have something wrong, like, if I have PTSD they’ll still love me.”