The beginning of a new year inherently brings with it a sense of hope. Hope for better habits, hope for new opportunities and the hope that is always woven into any kind of new beginning. At its core, hope is the feeling that what we want can, in fact, come to pass.
Chardonnay Rosa describes her childhood as chaotic. Her mom would drop her off to stay with friends and relatives — sometimes for a day and sometimes for weeks. Chardonnay never knew how long it would be. Speaking about her relatives, Chardonnay shares, “What hurt me a lot was . . . my mom would bring me to their door and they would be like, well, are you going to pay me to watch your daughter.”
One of Chardonnay’s earliest memories was this voice inside here that told her that her life was going to be different. Through many forms of chaos, Chardonnay held onto that hope. When she saw her mom being abused by boyfriends or saw drug use around her, she held onto the hope that her life would be different. She had a strong feeling that what she wanted could, in fact come to pass.
Chardonnay describes a day when an older girl was trying to get her to smoke, “I said no because my life is going to be different. [She] looked at me and she said, ‘Yeah, well I used to say the same thing when I was your age, but look at my life now.’”
Chardonnay was unmoved. It was hope that held her there.
Then at 11, she was invited to church. She describes, “For the first time in my life I looked at these people’s faces and I began to see joy, and something in me said, ‘I want that joy. I want what these people have.’” Shortly after, Chardonnay was confronted in a very real way with the reality that God loved her. Before all this, she sort of knew that God loved everyone, but she finally discovered that God loved her specifically.
She tells it this way:
“And so I remember just crying for the first time, like this barrier that I had within my heart just broke down and then, I no longer came because of the joy on people’s faces. I came because I realized this is where my source of love comes from . . . My home situation didn’t change and the chaos didn’t change. But there was just this hope now that was attached to that phrase where I thought, okay, now I can live my life in this chaos, but cling on to something.”
And finally, when she was 14, a friend’s mom helped Chardonnay realize that she had a voice. Chardonnay came to a conclusion: “I don’t have to put up with this lifestyle of being around drugs and being around perversion and abuse and neglect I can choose now to somewhat change my surroundings. And so that was the point where I was like, ‘I’m going to put myself into foster care.’”
And that’s what she did.
Chardonnay’s foster parents eventually took custody of her. Chardonnay went to Bible College in Texas and is now living back in Hawaii. Chardonnay is living in the hope that she held onto for so long.
Yes, her life is different.
NOTE: An extended version of Chardonnay’s story is featured in episode 13 of the Foster Movement podcast. It’s available for download from iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Overcast.
This article first appeared in CAFO’s regular Foster Movement column of the Fostering Families Today magazine (January/February 2018 issue). To see a preview of the magazine and learn more about how you or your organization can subscribe to this great resource, click here.