SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - It was supposed to be a temporary home for a little girl named Amy.
But as fate would have it, Amy's foster home turned into her forever home. Now Amy and her mom are encouraging more Native American families to step forward, to foster and adopt.
Ten-year-old Amy has been climbing to new heights over the past three years now that she has a mom by her side.
“She's really fun! We go hiking, we go traveling, we go to the park sometimes we stay at home, we watch movies together,” said Amy.
It's a completely different world from the emergency children's shelter where Amy lived for eight months, worried about her future.
“I thought I would stay in that Polinsky place forever until I had to go to the other building for teens, until I could finally get a place,” continued Amy. “But when I do get a place, I don't think I'd keep it for long because I don't think I have very much money.”
Then, she met Michelle who stepped up to be Amy's foster mom, but two and a half years later Amy became available for adoption and the two decided together to become mom and daughter.
“I asked Amy, and I just said, I'm a full time single mom, am I someone you want to adopt you or would you actually like them to try to look for a family that's a couple, you know, I could only offer what I had,” said Michelle. “I gave her time to think about it, but she said she wanted to just stay home, and we were going to figure it out together, right?”
What makes their bond even more special is that they share a common culture, both are Native American and Michelle makes it a priority to keep Amy's heritage alive. They've visited several tribal communities, including one in Alaska.
“We went to an arctic village, I have a friend that lives in an Eskimo village so we were there for about three weeks, helping, gathering, hunting,” explained Michelle.
“So we helped elders there by helping gather it was berry picking season, so we did cranberries, salmon berries, so what we gathered we gave away to elders in the village community,” said Michelle. “And then she also got to taste whale and seal oil and experience how you go set net on the river.”
“Amy was able to experience that. People honestly still live off the land.”
Amy says it gave her a deeper appreciation for her life in San Diego.
And Michelle, who continues to foster Native American youth, is calling on other Native American families to foster and put aside any differences there may be among tribes to help their own.
“We've had a lot of foster siblings who are from all different tribes and just to know that it doesn't matter where you're from, Indian country, as a whole, we can work together to give homes to our kids until they can get home,” said Michelle. “Or we have somebody stable, and they can still be culturally connected no matter where they're at.”
If you are interested in adopting or becoming a foster family, please call 1-877-I-ADOPT-U.