Sierra’s story debuted at the 6th Annual KVC Hero Luncheon on June 15, 2017 in Overland Park, Kansas. The event drew over 550 guests and raised over $160,000 to help KVC support hundreds of children just like Sierra who are experiencing abuse, neglect or other family challenges.
Sierra is an 11-year-old girl whose mother and stepfather used and sold drugs. The home had no electricity or running water. With no one making sure her needs were being met, Sierra decided she needed to take care of herself and her two half siblings. She used big, empty buckets to get water and carry it back to the house. The buckets were extremely heavy, but she needed the water to drink, cook, and clean clothes and dishes. When there was nothing to eat, she would find what little food she could from others and take it home and cook it.
Strangers were constantly coming in and out of the home to buy drugs or for other reasons. Sierra’s mother was frequently absent and her stepfather physically abused her, leaving bruises on her body. It was not a safe environment, and an investigation resulted in a court decision to remove Sierra and her siblings from the home and place her in foster care.
Sierra went to live in the home of Kelly and Rick Patterson, a couple with four biological children who have now been foster parents for over 10 years and cared for over 200 children in foster care. The Pattersons were excited to meet Sierra and her siblings when they arrived, but Kelly and Rick could see how scared and neglected they were. Sierra and her siblings were afraid and unsure about what was happening, so they hid together under clothes and blankets so no one could find them.
Over time, Sierra began to open up and feel comfortable in the Patterson’s home. She would smile, laugh and even assure the other children being cared for in the home that “things were different here.” Sierra received therapy and counseling support to help her cope with and heal from her traumatic childhood experiences, and the Pattersons made sure she got to experience just being a kid.
Sierra’s mother continued to struggle with her addiction and eventually realized that she would not be able to properly care for her daughter. She decided to terminate her parental rights. This paved the way for the Pattersons to begin the process of adopting Sierra. Her two half-siblings were safely reunited with their father who successfully completed rehab and family reintegration services. The three children remain in close contact and see each other often. Kelly and Rick anticipate that their adoption of Sierra will be final later this year, adding immense joy and love to their family.
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In every community, there are families experiencing crisis. Children just like Sierra are living in darkness, experiencing abuse and neglect and feeling broken and hopeless. They need heroes in the form of foster parents who can provide love, support and build their resilience. We can each do something to help a child and family in need. Learn more about foster care, become a foster parent or make a gift today!