In June 2019, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption visited Middleborough, Massachusetts, to meet with Maya and Hannah Fontaine, sisters who were adopted through the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. The girls bravely shared the incredible pain and neglect they experienced before adoption because they want other children to be adopted, too. In this article, the Foundation shares reflections from their time with the Fontaine family. Watch a video of Maya and Hannah’s story at www.davethomasfoundation.org/MayaandHannah.
By Rita Soronen
“I remember my birth parents were so drunk one time they passed out behind the wheel,” Maya said. Her hands were trembling as she continued. “I was 10.”
Maya remembers more about their birth parents than Hannah does, but they both know that they weren’t living in safe conditions. “There weren’t floors in the house where we lived. Our birth dad would jump in dumpsters to find broken presents for our Christmas gifts. I had to be Hannah’s mom and sister.”
Hannah was only 11 months old the first time the girls were placed in foster care. But she knows that Maya played a bigger role in her life than just being a sister. “She kept me alive,” Hannah says with glints of tears in her eyes. “I would have been scared if we had been separated.”
Maya remembers that first night in a stranger’s house. “I felt like I was sinking into the bed. It was so quiet. I just heard the clock tick. It was lonely.” Hannah wasn’t with her that night, but the two were soon reunited.
For six years, Maya and Hannah bounced between foster homes and living with their birth parents. Their lives changed when they met their Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, Laura, who found them their forever home.
Maya and Hannah were adopted by Dana and Barbara Fontaine in 2017. The couple had raised three sons, but felt they still had more love to give. Their youngest son, Nathan, was still living at home when Maya and Hannah joined the family.
“I love our recruiter, Laura,” Maya said. Hannah is quick to chime in, “Laura was always so happy to see us and smiling.” Laura shares those feelings, and it is clear that the three have a special bond. “She’s coming to my wedding,” Maya said proudly, with a glance to her mother, “someday!”
At first, Maya told Laura that she wanted to be separated from Hannah because she didn’t want to impact Hannah’s chances of being adopted. Laura said no. She assured Maya that she would find a family that wanted to adopt them both. “And she did,” Maya said with a huge smile. “I knew that I wasn’t a troubled kid. I know I’m here for a reason. I just hoped someone would take that chance on me.”
Dana Fontaine remains in awe of how Laura and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program considered the girls’ needs to find them the right family. What impacts him the most, though, is that Hannah and Maya couldn’t form real friendships because of how often they were moved.
“Hannah had never had a play date before she came to us. She was 9 years old and had never been to a sleepover. She had never spent an entire year in the same school. But this year, she has friends, plays soccer and participated in the school play. I was so proud to see her on stage,” he said with tears in his eyes.
“The girls are finally able to relax,” Dana added. “They know they are safe, and they can process the trauma they survived. Both doing so in different ways with the support they need.”
“Art is how I am learning to process my trauma,” said Maya. “Sometimes I can’t talk about it, so I draw about it. The feelings that I have inside come out on the paper.”
Some of her drawings are filled with sadness and some are quite hopeful. Sitting in the backyard she describes a pencil drawing she just finished. You can hear the pride in her voice as she describes it.
“The wall is broken and has holes and that was me before adoption. Now, I’m the door. I’m getting stronger, and there is a vine that’s showing growth. If you look out the door, you see the hillside and the meadow. I’m not there yet, but I’m almost there.”
A young mind, processing adult feelings and trauma.
“I know my parents love me. But I still have trouble believing this is forever…that someone isn’t going to come and take me away,” Maya said.
“That was the hardest part,” Barbara Fontaine added. “We had to teach them that adoption meant no more goodbyes.”
At just 16 years old, Maya has perspective and wisdom beyond her years. She sums up her journey in four sentences. Four sentences to explain 14 years of uncertainty and pain.
“Foster care is like a war. The foster homes are little battles. Adoption is like the white flag that goes up at the end of the war. It’s time to settle down and rebuild everything that was destroyed.”
Today, Maya and Hannah are thriving together in their forever home. Yet, more than 125,000 children are still waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States. You can help. Visit davethomasfoundation.org to learn more and get involved.