Dorchester family brings two sisters into their home

Printed from:

BOSTON – On a cold Friday evening, three sisters gathered around an iPad in the living room of a Dorchester home. On the other end, their oldest sister in New York talked excitedly about her plans during her commute.

You wouldn’t know it, but the two youngest sisters, Ty-Janee, 12, and Que’Mya, 11, have only been officially part of the Brewster family since National Adoption Day in November. Ever since, they’ve have been welcomed in as part of the “Brewster Fabulous Five.”

“It’s a new beginning!” said Ty-Janee, when asked what adoption means to her.

More than four years ago, Danita Brewster was working as a teacher, and then assistant vice principal at the Mattahunt elementary school when she first met the two sisters, who were then in first and third grade. They all became fast friends. At the time, Mrs. Brewster had no idea the girls were in foster care.

Their relationship was put on hold two years later, when Mrs. Brewster was transferred to West Roxbury’s Kilmer K-8 school as assistant principal.

Then one day, Mrs. Brewster and her husband, Arthur, were flipping through the “Sunday’s Child” section of the Boston Globe, as they often did, with thoughts of possibly adopting a child some day. But with the passage of time, and as their children started to go off to college, they began to think that day would never arrive. But when the picture of the two sisters appeared four years later, Mrs. Brewster knew the time had come.

“Things just started happening,” said Mrs. Brewster. “We just kept talking about it and then when we saw them we said, ‘this is it, we’re going to do it.’ ”

She started making phone calls to the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, an organization that works to find a permanent home for children and teens in foster care. The Exchange acts as the bridge between the state’s Department of Children and Families, private adoption agencies, and adults interested in adoption.

Before becoming part of the Brewster family, the two sisters had gone through nine foster homes in eight years, the last being the Merricks from Hyde Park. They now refer to the Merricks as Nana and Papa and get to see them on the weekends at church and at family occasions.

“Keeping the family together by blending their family and our family,” said Mrs. Brewster, is one way that made the transition for the girls a little bit easier.

The girls moved in on June 26 of last year, the same day, as their brother Aj’s birthday.

“We will never forget that day, will we?” Mrs. Brewster asked her daughters. Now, they are a family of seven, with four daughters and one boy.

She said, “I say to people ‘Oh I have five kids’ and people look at me and they say ‘five!’ and I laugh because I like the way it sounds— ‘I have five kids.’ ”

Today the two sisters attend the school where Mrs. Brewster is assistant vice principal and are in the seventh and fifth grade. They occasionally run into each other in the hallway and Mrs. Brewster sticks her head in whenever she is by their classrooms.

“The kids always ask me, ‘What it is like to know that your mom will know everything that you do?’ ” said Ty-Janee.

Mrs. Brewster responded, saying, “But if you’re behaving then it doesn’t really matter.”

Ty-Janee continued, “I say, ‘If she knows what I’m doing then she knows what you’re doing too,’” and they all broke out in laughter.

The girls, who are significantly younger than Mrs. Brewster’s older children, who are in their early twenties, worried that they wouldn’t fit in. When they first met the entire family for a Mother’s Day celebration they learned that they had nothing to worry about.

“When we first came, it was like everybody was so happy and like we weren’t separated – we blended in,” said Ty-Janee. “It was just awesome. We love everybody and their attitudes and how they acted and it was just so awesome.”

The girls are the same age as some of the grandchildren in the large extended family.

For their parents, who have already raised three children, they have had to learn to remember that they still haven’t taught the girls their family values yet, such as proper etiquette or “not to be a barbarian.”

Mrs. Brewster added, “They teach us things too, like patience.”

The transition isn’t as big as the girls anticipated it would be. It has added stability to their everyday lives.

Que’Mya said, “It didn’t change dramatically, but it changed amazingly.”