Child’s tragic life takes big turn with the Furmans
When Kaitlyn Furman was asked if she and her husband wanted to adopt Patricia, they had no doubt whatsoever about making the move – particularly since Kaitlyn had been adopted, too.
“I think it’s a bond nobody else could have with her,” Furman said. “It’s probably why I get so upset if she’s upset or anyone picks on her. She’s my best friend.”
Furman said the adoption changed her a lot, making her a better person and more interested in possibly adopting more children later.
“When you become a parent it’s one thing, but when you become a parent to someone else’s child it’s another thing,” she said. “I feel like the bond is different. We don’t see her as ‘not our blood.’ Even before she was adopted at 3 years old, people told us she looked like us, too.”
Patricia, now 5, is at ease, readily addressing Kaitlyn and her husband, Daniel Furman, as her parents.
“I do feel it makes a difference because I basically understand every emotion,” Furman said of understanding the child. “We were in the same care when we were put in foster care.”
This is so different from the then withdrawn, shy little 3-year-old who only wanted to be around family at the time the couple first met her when they came to stay with Kaitlyn’s sister temporarily in Norco. They observed a youngster who was often left for weeks at a time there, too. Her father, Kaitlyn’s brother, died when she was five months old and her mother often left here there.
When Kaitlyn and Daniel married, they moved to Destrehan. The Furmans brought Patricia with them.
“Lo and behold, a few weeks later, DCFS (state Department of Children and Family Services) was at my door,” Furman said. “We had visitation with her mom and she never showed up.”
Her biological mother, who struggled with chemical dependency, could not handle the child. They arranged for visitation, but she often didn’t show up.
“When DCFS first came to us, they asked if that was an option,” Furman said of her and then finance’ Daniel’s willingness to adopt the youngster. “There was no doubt in our mind. We wanted to keep her.”
They’d already considered the move when the child started calling them mother and father, but it wasn’t easy.
“It didn’t take us two seconds to say we’ll take her and even less time to tell the judge, of course, that we would adopt her,” Furman said. “I knew she was either going to live with us or a foster family.”
Furman recounted a steady changing line of social workers, which meant starting over each time toward completing the adoption, but stayed on it.
“It’s been a rough journey – and long,” she said. “It was a very, very long time – nearly three years.”
Furman knew the process and the potential pitfalls.
Her biological mother, who also struggled with chemical addiction, adopted her out by age 7. Furman said family told her that her mother even tried to sell her as a child for $10,000. She was adopted by Sandy and Steven Fontenot of Lake Charles, where she stayed until she was 13.
Furman returned to her biological parents, which she called a mistake. By age 18, she returned to the Fontenots until she later briefly lived with her biological father in Destrehan and then married Daniel, then a resident of Kenner.
Today, the family lives in Eunice, where they moved to be closer to Kaitlyn’s relatives with her adopted family.
Furman has told Patricia she is adopted, hoping it will help the child avoid the mistakes she made in her anger and confusion in her own childhood.
“I’ve never withheld anything from her,” said Kaitlyn, although she is worried the child will repeat her own mistakes. “I’m scared to death because I’m afraid she’ll give up on me and go with her real mom, but I have faith.”Furman also has become an advocate for adoption.
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me and my husband,” she said. “I hope, once she understands what we went through to adopt her, she’ll appreciate where she is and not go back to the situation that resulted in her being given up for adoption.”
As of now, Patricia seems content.
“She’s the most open person I’ve ever met in my life,” Furman said. “She’s a completely different kid from when she was 3 years old … smart … gorgeous.”