For Jocelynn Wiggins, her childhood memories don’t include many instances of afterschool sports, sleepovers with friends or the security of being at the same home with people she loved. Throughout her childhood, Jocelynn and her younger brothers were in foster care, and spent much of their youth packing bags and moving between relatives’ homes and foster care placements.
“It took a big part of my childhood away because I was so weird about people touching my stuff, from that point, from just always having to hold onto it, and that was all I had,” said Wiggins.
Jocelynn added that the hardest part was watching her younger brothers go through all the moves with her.
“I’d always wanted to help take care of him and just be there for them. And we went through everything together. We were always moved around from family and back home and then just to another home. And eventually I grew out of it,” said Wiggins.
Jocelynn finally got the opportunity to take care of herself as she always wanted, and began building a life for herself. She met her boyfriend, found a job and had two children of her own who are now 2 and 1. But she always stayed in contact with her younger siblings, who are now 14 and 7, and were experiencing the same childhood instability Jocelynn had gone through. When she learned her mother’s rights to the children were being terminated, she knew there was a possibility her younger brothers would be split up, and she decided she had to step in.
“It was always a goal for me,” said Wiggins. “To be able to be like, ‘Okay I’m going to get them in a stable home where they will always have a stable home.’ Because that’s what I always wanted.”
At 20 years old, Jocelynn got her license to begin fostering her two younger siblings. She admits there were challenges at first. Both of her younger brothers struggled with anger and behavior issues. Her 14-year-old brother went to Carita’s St. John Bosco Children’s Center to get the additional support he needed.
“I think St. John Bosco was important because they worked with my oldest brother to change his behavior,” said Wiggins. “They were able to give him one-on-one therapy sessions and get his medicine figured out and just get him to a reality check, honestly. Because he didn’t really have any goals or anything. He wouldn’t talk like he had any goals.”
Now that Jocelynn has turned 21, she is finalizing the process of adopting her two younger brothers. She said both boys’ attitudes have completely changed.
“I think it is the stability and knowing that they’re with their family, they can have their own space and they’ll always be with us now,” said Jocelynn. “My six-year-old brother knows that I’m adopting him so he’s going to be ours and he’s not going to leave. I definitely think that’s what helped his behavior and his overall mood. He’s just a happy little boy now.”
Jocelynn credits her long-time Caritas Family Solutions case worker with believing in her and giving her the opportunity to reunite her family.
“I know we’re young and it could have seemed like too much for us to handle, but my case worker believed in me and advocated for me,” said Wiggins. “It did change our lives for the better because it’s made us a strong family. Now, my brothers know they they’re safe with us and that they’ll be there forever.”