By Lindsay Starr Platt, The Belton Journal
“It felt good! A sigh of relief that we have her as our’s now, and she is not going anywhere. We had a big happy meal. Aerial got to eat everything, turkey, ham, potatoes and pie,” said Lesa Perea, Aerial’s mother. “And,] she got to sit at the kid’s table, she was never able to do that before. With the CPS rules on fostering they must be in a chair with straps until age two. When we came home after the adoption, we got rid of that highchair. And we got her a little table chair set, and she loves it.”
Those were some of the words said by Lesa Perea when asked, “How does it feel to be a complete family during the first holiday together?”
The Perea’s were one of the family’s from Bell County’s “Adoption Day” on November 13, 2015. They had been fostering a little girl, Aerial Moon through Child Protective Services (CPS) since she was an infant. The Perea’s had known Aerial’s mother since she was pregnant with her. Aerial’s mother didn’t think she would be able to take care of her, nor did she think she would get any help from the father. When Aerial was born, she had to be admitted to the NICU for seven days because she tested positive for methamphetamines and marijuana. Thus, beginning the trek that would lead to her being adopted.
“We tried to help them (Aerial’s parents) keep Aerial, but they couldn’t do it. Then our main concern became how to help Aerial,” commented Perea. “She was a full term baby, weighed over five pounds. After seven days in the NICU, she was detoxed and was eating and less irritable. She has been right on track since for everything, mentally and developmentally.”
The Perea’s embraced the fostering experience and said it is the most gratifying thing you can get from CPS. Perea said she is going to miss her caseworker and working with them. But, she will not miss the not the paperwork. When fostering a child, any time they get a cut or bruise, paperwork must be filled out. CPS has custody of the child until they are adopted, and all their rules must be followed.
“Aerial was never allowed to use a walker, bouncer or a jumper, she missed all those things and now is too old for them. Now, that she is part of the family she gets to really play! She has been on the trampoline and just gets to run around like a kid should,” commented Perea. “It just was not worth the paperwork, to even let her get a little bump or scrape before. When they are your own child, you give them a band-aid and a kiss. When you are fostering you must call the caseworker, and often times meet them at the doctor or E.R. and paperwork.”
The Perea family and extended family dotes on Aerial and is always there for her. Lesa Perea is no stranger to bringing in other children and making them part of the family. Over the years she has helped many unaccompanied youth get on the right track.
“Ellison High School knows me very well. My kids were good about bringing home stray animals and stray kids. I have been there for many kids when they walked across the stage for graduation. I have had a few success stories and a few failures, but I was there to help,” said Perea. “These kids weren’t getting along at home or had got in trouble. When they get out of jail, sometimes their parents do not want them back at home. I take them in if they can follow my rules, I put them in school and be there for them.”
The Perea’s are ready for Christmas . They are excited about their first Christmas with Aerial. The Perea’s put up thirteen Christmas trees around the house and fully decorate. Wreaths are made, and all things Christmas come out.
“We eat from Christmas plates and have Christmas pots and pans. The towels put out and the sheets on the bed are all Christmas themed. My house is Christmas,” remarked Perea. “We celebrate birthdays big around here. And the man upstairs, well he is going to get the biggest birthday of all. But, of course the presents will be for us.”
“Aerial is such a happy baby. We call her Beautiful and Sunshine, and she is “all smiles”. Being the baby she is going to get spoiled, “spoiled rotten”. I have tables full of presents I got on Black Friday covered with sheets. Aerial picks the sheets up and peeks,” said Perea. “This is great, Aerial has siblings from ages thirty-six to six and nieces and nephews that are older than her. She has a variety of people to hang out with, young and old.”