CLEVELAND — Thousands of children in Northeast Ohio are in foster care, waiting for loving homes. It's a scenario 22-year-old Porsha Griffin lived her entire childhood.
Porsha and her siblings were removed from her parents' home when she was about five or six. They were split up, over and over again through the years.
"My dad's girlfriend ended up getting custody of us, and then we were with her until I was about 12," Porsha said.
Then, it was right back into the system. It was a pattern, Porsha says, isolated her.
"When you get thrown into the foster system, you could tell right away that you're a foster kid from their bio kids. And, that's how I feel. I always feel like I wasn't there," Porsha shared.
Yet, she was there. It became impossible to build trust with families because she felt misunderstood.
"Everybody was like, 'Oh, she's a bad kid,'" Porsha explained. "They thought I was just unruly and I was just acting out because I wasn't with my family. I was going through a lot and I didn't know how to express myself."
To Porsha, going home was always a dream she wanted. But too many times, it didn't come true.
"(My foster sister) was like, 'go upstairs, our foster mom wants to talk to you, she has important news for you,'" Porsha remembered. "So I go upstairs and she's like, 'You're going home. You can pack your clothes.' Then, an hour later, we got a phone call and I ended finding out that my sister couldn't get me and I was heartbroken."
Porsha was going through the motions. She certainly never imagined that a new life was possible at the age of 17
Until, she met her mom.
"I remember telling my case worker, 'I feel like I know her from somewhere,'" Porsha said of her mother, Dionne Griffin.
Dionne says the feeling was mutual, and that she always knew Porsha belonged with her family.
"We were talking. She was really shy and really quiet, reserved. And I'm like, 'Yeah, she seems like she's the one,'" Dionne recalled. "It was just. It was wonderful. It felt like filling a void. You know, I needed her in my life. I didn't realize it."
At age 18, Porsha joined the Griffin's blended family: Six adopted children; one foster child; and Albert and Dionne's biological child. The change in her, was immediate.
"They would tell me every day, 'You look so happy,'" Porsha said.
Dionne says people with open hearts should consider adopting older children.
"I think more people should, and one of the reasons why I wanted to adopt an older child is, because a lot of the teenagers there, they just age out of foster care and they don't have anybody to turn to," Dionne said.
For Porsha, thanks to her mom, she'll always have a place she can call home.
"I'm very grateful that you came into my life, and you know how much you changed my life in so many ways. And, I appreciate you and I don't know where I would've been if it wasn't for you," Porsha said to her mom.
If you'd like to learn more about foster care and how to help, click here.