Muell's New Family 11/16/12 11/16/12 1:04:00 PM
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Amy Muell and her two boys, Ja’Rell (left) and Shomore, celebrate Shomore’s 10th birthday with a little silliness.
By Lorraine Boyd
Muell’s First Fostering Experience
Leads to New Family for These Three
The Daily Record
Most 34-year-old single career women still have dreams of one day marrying and having children.
Amy Muell was no exception, but admits that her career has come first. She works hard all day to help “kiddos” cope with unimaginable challenges as the RSafe 10-14 Project Supervisor at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. The RSafe Program is dedicated to emotionally healing children, teens and families affected by sexual abuse.
Muell was the RSafe Treatment Foster Care coordinator for four years, all of those years concurrent with her current position. She earned her degree in social work from the University of Iowa and a masters in social work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Two years ago, she took in her first foster child, an eight-year-old African American boy named Shomore who was removed from his abusive home where mental health issues were a significant factor.
After a while, Shomore’s older brother Ja’Rell, needed an emergency removal from his foster home. “It was just supposed to be for a week, so I said okay,” Amy said. “He was 13 and had never lived with his sibling. He didn’t want to leave.” So, he never left.
“I told him I just knew when he walked in, ‘You have so much sunshine in your heart, you bring sunshine to mine.’”
The next two years have not been without their challenges. “The 10-year-old broke a window recently.” Amy paused. “He threw a Bible at it! I told him to stop tapping on it, and he threw a Bible at it.” She laughed at the irony.
“When I took Shomore in, I just wanted to try out foster care. Now, they’re my life. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Tomorrow is National Adoption Day and the two boys will become Amy’s sons in Judge Christopher Kelly’s courtroom. They both have decided to take Amy’s middle name as their middle names: Joy. “Because we bring joy to each others lives.”
Amy’s middle name came about because her parents thought their 13th child was going to be born with mental retardation. When she was not, they rejoiced and gave her the name Joy. “I was touched and honored that the boys wanted my name too.”
While they love Amy, the boys still mourn the loss of their family, which includes five other siblings. When the boys’ mother’s parental rights were terminated, Amy persuaded her to try to visit them or to make a video because it would mean a lot to them.
Despite her own difficulties, she did make that video recently, telling them “It’s okay to love Amy. Let her take care of you.”
“It meant so much to them,” Amy said, “and it took a lot of courage for her to do that.”
Amy’s house seems it would be full enough with two teenage boys in it. But there are also two Schnauzer-mix dogs in the mix, and once a week, two of her boys’ siblings who are closest in age to them, a boy and a girl, come over to spend the day. “They all love it.” Those two children are also in foster care, as are the other children in the family.
Her pride in the boys is evident. Shomore is a student at Pawnee Elementary School, and Ja’Rell has just transferred to Papillion-La Vista High School this year, as a sophomore. He has spent the last week trying out for the basketball team (he made the team at Benson last year as a freshman). The 15-year-old is 6’2".
“He’s doing just great in his new school. It’s all about caring teachers. He knows what he needs to do to succeed.”
Amy was working at home the evening we visited. She said the boys get that she has a career, but they want her to themselves when she gets home, so they’re not always happy with her “homework.” It’s a balance.
As Amy says about the picture on her Facebook page, “My boys.” Indeed.
A Big Day
Foster and adoptive parents come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. They all have one thing in common. They are willing to take in kids who need them and give them love and a chance at a successful life.
Tomorrow, more than 70 kids will become members of their “forever homes,” the biggest number yet in Omaha’s 13 years celebrating National Adoption Day.
After opening remarks at 8:30 a.m., the Douglas County Juvenile Court judges will begin the joyous process of finalizing adoptions, lots of adoptions. While families are waiting, they will enjoy a magician, face painting, a balloon artist, professional family photos, desserts, flowers for the parents, and following the adoptions, a chili feed at Children’s Museum. A grant from the Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation, along with other sponsors, is making the celebration possible.