Hi! I’m Christina Dronen. My husband, Eric Dronen and I are the founders of Finally Family Homes.
I thought a good place to start on our blog would be to share how we got started! Finally Family Homes is our vision for helping kids who are aging out of the foster care system without ever having found a family or home. We chose to establish it in Santa Clarita, CA because we think it’s the best location to start helping house and mentor the foster kids who are aging out of foster care.
The idea started a little over 2 years ago…
Our church, Pacific Crossroads, had been talking about the homeless population in Los Angeles, which has gotten worse in recent years.
There are now over 50,000 homeless in LA, nearly 40,000 of those are unsheltered.
It was then I found out that foster kids make up a substantial portion of the homeless.
Having an interest tiny homes, I began to put together ideas to use them to help the homeless, but then abandoned them as too overwhelming and unattainable.
On a more personal level…
I had made a friend who was going through a lot of struggles, including an unplanned pregnancy, addiction issues, living on the edge of homelessness, and more. Over the past few years, I helped and connected with her and got to know up close how complicated and difficult it is to survive, especially in LA without a good support system.
I should mention how we “adopted” from China.
About five years ago, we connected with a young woman attending grad school here from China through our church. She was looking to connect with a family locally. We invited her to join us for holidays, birthdays, and sometimes just to hang out and have dinner.
|Now we consider her a part of our family.|
Summer of 2017 I went on the mission trip to Kyrgyzstan with my church.
Our primary work was to help the Kyrgyz church run a local kids camp. With less than 1% of the people there being Christian, helping hands are much needed to help serve the hundreds of kids who attend and to encourage the local church.
One of the ministries of this church is to care for the local orphans who have aged out of the system there.
The pastor of the Kyrgyz church was moved to start what is now called Oak House after a little girl at the local orphanage asked “Is it true that when we leave here, the boys will go to jail and the girls will become prostitutes?”
Sadly, being dumped from the orphanages at 16, it is most often true.
As I worked at the church, I worked alongside some of the girls being helped by Oak House.
They were sweet, poised, and hopeful.
We got to visit where they live and hear more from them about their experiences. I felt like I was getting to see in action something very close to what I hoped to do here in the US. I felt like the hope and peace I saw in these girls was the result of being invested in personally and I could see this working out back here in California, where the foster care situation is dire.
In the past 2 years, our church has focused on foster care, with the Invisibles campaign – educating our congregation and getting them involved in helping foster kids. I started revisiting this idea of helping house homeless former foster kids.
We were saddened to learn how they are over-represented on the streets, in human trafficking, and in prisons.
Eric also loves family, helping others and teaching, so it seemed like a natural fit.
So here we are, just getting going. Finally Family Homes is unlike most programs in that it is long-term and personal, not just a cold handout to float a child on to the next thing. We are looking forward to housing, mentoring, and loving kids who are aging out of foster care.
We want the ones who are “too old to adopt,” the ones who fell through the cracks, the ones who never landed. We are inviting them to have a family and a home with us, finally.
One purpose of this blog is to help parents of teens navigate the challenges of preparing their children to be successful independent adults. The mission of Finally Family Homes is to provide the same kind of support for those teens who don’t have a family or home to help them transition into adulthood.
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