BY JERÉ ANTHONY
As the sirens fly by me I press my fingertips to my lips and touch my heart, it’s really the only thing to do when encountering the unknown of a medical emergency. I say a silent prayer for the family involved but I can’t say that I’ve ever taken the time to revisit the thought. When tragedy strikes it is hard to put a face to the victims involved. We all feel it in our gut because we know what pain feels like in some form or fashion and everyone has experienced loss in their own ways.
I was recently given the privilege of meeting a courageous young woman who has already lived through a lifetime of grief and loss. When Lianca Wilson was 12 years old her entire life changed. She was involved in a car wreck, which took her mother’s life. She quickly became that unknown person who was suffering that we find ourselves praying for, in that very instant Lianca became an orphan.
Unlike many of the children in the foster care system that are victims of abuse and neglect, Lianca went from being a child who was loved and cared for to being alone and having no one to call her family. Her first placement was with an aunt who would ultimately become financially unable to care for her. As a result of this, her custody was given over the Department of Children and Family Services rendering her available for adoption.
I wish I could say that the loss of her mother was going to be Lianca’s rock bottom. In 2012, Lianca became ill and was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, a rare form of Leukemia that required her to undergo intense chemotherapy treatment at St. Jude’s Medical Research Hospital. Lianca went through rigorous chemo treatment for 10 months that tested her inner and outer source of strength.
Lianca experienced a reprieve from her bout of adversity when she went into remission in 2014. Although she had already overcome 2 major tragedies in life, she remained sweet and loving, and was always a joy to be around.
The idea of being part of a family again was Lianca’s sole desire. Her first foster care placement was a wonderful fit for Lianca, but it wouldn’t be a permanent one. Her foster parents loved her and agreed that she could live with them until she aged out of the system on her eighteenth birthday. While this was wonderful news that she wouldn’t have to change homes again, Lianca still held on to her dream to have a real family that she was apart of.
In 2016 tragedy struck once more for Lianca, her foster father with whom she was extremely close, fell ill and passed away. Little did she know that this misfortune would be the catalyst for the biggest change in all of her 17 years. As her foster mother was grieving, she took a trip out of state and Lianca was temporarily placed into another foster home with Miss Vernice Carter.
From the moment that Lianca entered Miss Carter’s home, things were different. She seemed to click with Miss Carter and they formed a bond that could only be described as family. It was like they were bound by blood and Miss Carter knew that she had to make Lianca part of her family, but she had to hurry.
Lianca’s dream to be adopted was running out of time as her eighteenth birthday approached. As a true testament to her loving nature and kind spirit, Lianca had everyone on board to pull the right strings to have her adoption completed in time. Attorneys, Child Welfare workers and Judges aligned to a common goal and were able to pull it off in record time. On December 15, 2016 Lianca was adopted, just 10 days shy of her eighteenth birthday.
I was honored to be present during the ceremony and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I can think of no one who deserved her happily ever after more than Lianca. Surrounded by her biggest fans, CASA workers, and DCFS staff; Lianca was transformed from orphan to daughter with the signature of the judge. Just like that her fairy tale was complete and I am happy to report that the ending looks very promising for this very special girl.
So it seems the prayers we speak in our hearts as the ambulance rushes by are not in vain and time is the healer of all wounds. She may have been broken down time and time again, but Lianca has lived a life worth telling about. In her 17 years she has experienced grief, loss, healing, and unconditional love like no other. Lucky for us, she’s not finished yet.