Family can bring the greatest joy and the greatest heartbreak to all of us.  After a tumultuous childhood and many adult residential placements, Amber has finally come home to live with her stepmom. The past year has been a turning point for her success.

Aspire has supported Amber on this journey since she left a group home four years ago. When we met Amber she was angry about the lack of control over her own life, and chafing at the many restrictions meant to keep her safe. While moving to shared living with an Aspire Provider was a big step from the group home, she really wanted to live with her stepmom, Jami.

Jami has known Amber since she was four, and they maintained a close relationship throughout the turmoil Amber experienced over the years. Jami had been worried that living together might prove too challenging and risk damaging their relationship. Amber tried living with a few different providers, gradually learning the skills she needed to advocate for herself without being in crisis. “I matured a whole lot. I learned good coping skills.”

Jami has worked hard to make this a successful transition, too. “I have to separate being a home care provider and a stepmom. I’m trying to be more of a mentor than a mother. Sometimes I have to stay neutral and not let my feelings get in the way. Aspire gave me training on how to respond to different scenarios, ongoing training.  If I’m having a hard day or struggling with an issue, I can call them.”

A year later they have many high points to report.

Amber and Jami have been very active, roller skating, camping, and traveling. They spent a week’s vacation in Myrtle Beach visiting family. Amber has been working at a clothing and housewares store for several months. “I love my job.” Amber’s also looking forward to starting driving classes at the DriveAbility program to get her license. “I’m so excited I get to drive!”

Sometimes it’s the little things that can mean the most. “I have my space here. If I go in my room and watch TV Jami lets me be alone.”  She has her own cell phone. Her dog Finn is at her side. “I have more freedom, and some responsibility.”

“Amber has exceeded my expectations. She has blossomed,” Jami is proud to say. Amber knows that how far she has come is a real achievement. Her tattoos are a reminder whenever she needs one: “Always Hope” in memory of family members who have passed, “Strong Fearless Trust,” and “Warrior.”  Now she’s saving for a new tattoo—there’s so much more to come.


Amber and Jami: Together at Last