NORTH PORT — The word used in foster care is “languishing.”
But for Briahna, languishing was more like bouncing. The teen had gone from foster families and group homes to adoptive parents. It took minutes, in fact, to count the stopovers on both hands. She and her siblings had entered Florida’s foster-care system when Briahna was 5. She’s 13 now.
But Briahna’s time adrift ended at 10:58 a.m. Tuesday, when a Sarasota County judge via video declared her Briahna Eldredge, the daughter of Becca and Ian, a North Port couple adopting the Montessori seventh-grader.
The Eldredges worked months to qualify as adoptive parents, ending Briahna’s eight-year journey from home to home. The Safe Children Coalition and the Heart Gallery of Sarasota ushered the teen through Tuesday’s adoption. Guardian ad Litem of Sarasota also acted on her behalf in courtrooms.
Lots of people Tuesday honored Briahna with a drive-by parade by her North Port home, another nod to social distancing and COVID-19. There were friends and grandparents, well-wishers and police officers, her brother and sister living with another adoptive family.
Briahna is “starting a new journey,” her father, Ian, said. “She’s a great light in our life.”
Briahna Eldredge said there were good and bad situations in her time. She told stories before the parade trickled by, police sirens wailing, horns honking, one neighbor looking bewildered by the 15-minute celebration. The teen wore a flowery dress, a tiara in her hair. At one point she had attended three schools as a sixth-grader, she recalled. Another adoptive home, she said, “didn’t work out.”
Despite getting moved around like a chess piece, Briahna Eldredge remained upbeat, however.
“Every negative situation … there’s always a positive,” she said Tuesday of some 1,783 days in foster care, many others between placings. “It led me to where I am today.”
Karen Kuskin circled Tuesday’s parade route a couple of times. She had adopted Briahna’s sister and brother, 15-year-old Linda and K.J., 11. She teared up describing the ordeal each child had faced. Briahna, planning to become a professional singer and performer, had landed at the right home, exactly where she belongs, Kuskin said.
Her situation “worked out better than anybody could have asked for,” she said.