Antonio, 3, & Ricky, 4
Wherever Ricky goes, his younger brother, Antonio, cheerfully follows. The boys share a fascination with the world around them and a sweet-natured temperament. "Antonio looks up to Ricky, even though Ricky's not that much olderanything the older one does, the little one copies," says their former case manager, Claudine Mesnil.
The boys, who have been in foster care virtually since birth, would benefit from being adopted together. In day care, Ricky and Antonio are greatly improving their verbal and social skillsinteracting with other children, saying please, sharingthrough speech and play therapy. In their free time, they enjoy playing video games, climbing the jungle gym at the playground and eating their favorite meal, rice and beans.
"They're a little shy at first," says Claudine, "but once they warm up to you, they're very trusting and affectionate they'll tell you everything or run up to give you hugs."
Mondy, 7, & Gregory, 8
"These boys look out for each other," says Kernetta, their foster mother. "If I give ice cream to one, he'll tell me to be sure to give some to the other!"
When he grows up, Gregory says he'd like to work at a supermarket, selling milk and eggs. Mondy hopes to be a garbage man: "I want to ride on the back of the truck!" he says. Chides his big brother, "Yeah, but you're gonna stink!" Both break into laughter.
Mondy and Gregory, who should be adopted together, are helped by weekly therapy sessions. "They're super-friendly kids," says their case manager, Jessica List. When asked what family means to him, Gregory answers with assurance, "When you get together and stay together."
With her 5-foot-7 (and growing) stature and calm, confident demeanor, Angela seems older than her years. She has her sights set on a dual career, as a singer and a surgeon. She admires Tina Turner, explaining, "I like the way she stood up to Ike." And Angela has the stomach to pursue her medical goals: "You know how some people are scared of blood? Not me. Blood comes out of me, blood comes out of anybody."
Angela, whose birth mother died in August 2001, is helped by twice-weekly therapy sessions, as well as monthly visits with her sisters, Rasheeda, 18, and Crystal, 16. "She's funny, sensitive and very smart," says Angela's therapist, Irene Alvarez. Her favorite subject in seventh grade is math "because it's really easy," and she likes drawing sketches of Bugs Bunny, reading R.L. Stine stories, practicing ballet and writing fan letters to Lil' Bow Wow, whom she dreams of marrying someday.
One of Angela's fondest recent memories is the camping trip she took in North Carolina with the CHARLEE Program, which runs the group home where she lives with five other girls. "We hiked in the mountains, we swam in a springit was freezing!" she says. "Two nights, me and a couple kids slept in sleeping bags by the creek, without a tent. It was really nice. At nine o'clock, it was still a little light out."