Jeaneau Snell is the first to admit that not long ago, she had no idea how many children are in need of safe and loving homes. But now that she does know, she can’t keep quiet about it.
“We tell people there are kids out there who are looking for someone to call family,” she says. “I can’t imagine not having my family, so I can’t even begin to imagine how these kiddos feel. We encourage friends and family to think about foster care or adoption.”
Jeaneau and her husband, Tony, live in Amarillo and learned of the need when they discovered their 3-year-old niece, Nevaeh, was living in an unsafe environment. As soon as they found out, they did everything they could to bring her into their home.
“We had always promised we would do whatever it took to make sure we could give her the life she deserves,” Jeaneau says. “And when we learned this could be a very long process, and then about Buckner from friends, we decided to go ahead and become licensed to foster her [through kinship care].”
Kinship care is a type of foster care in which children are living with and being cared for by relatives or fictive kin – close family friends or other adults with whom the child already has a relationship. It is a growing area for Buckner and in the state of Texas. While children still sometimes live informally with relatives, formal kinship care helps relatives get the support they need to care for them.
“I wish we would’ve done it from the get-go,” Jeaneau says. “They have been so helpful in getting the resources we need for Nevaeh. Our case worker Melissa Rainwater and her intern have been our absolute rocks through all of this.”
When Nevaeh arrived at the Snell home, “she was pretty wild,” Jeaneau remembers. “And she was pretty independent. She wouldn’t allow us to help her with anything. But we explained to her that it’s okay for people to help her. And with time and patience, she has calmed down and she listens and is very respectful.”
Nevaeh has also recently graduated from speech class, where she worked hard with a speech therapist to correct a small stutter. “She was super proud that she graduated,” Jeaneau says. “She couldn’t wait to call her daddy and all the rest of the family.”
The spunky 3-year-old, who the Snells plan to adopt later this year, is now thriving and enjoying time with her new big brother Kayden, 13, and big sister Ryleigh, 10. The family loves sports, and Nevaeh is on her way to becoming a football fan.
“Tony is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, and he has our Nevaeh girl saying ‘How ‘bout them Cowboys?’” Jeaneau says.
Curious Nevaeh loves to talk and asks lots of questions about anything and everything. “Nevaeh never meets a stranger,” Jeaneau says. "One time, we were at a baseball tournament with Kayden, and Nevaeh walked right up to a friend of ours Tony was talking to and gave him a big hug. He told us later ‘that little girl will melt your heart.’”
The Snells are hopeful they’ll make Nevaeh an official part of their family soon – they’re currently working to adopt the precocious toddler. While they don’t know exactly when the adoption will go through, they have faith it’ll happen exactly as it’s supposed to.
“It’s all in God’s timing,” shares Jeaneau. “We are true believers throughout this entire process that it’s all in God’s hands and his timing.”