By the time five-year-old Adriana was adopted, she had already lived in three foster homes. It was a scary time for her. But one night before bed, her adoptive mom Jane told her a story about a stuffed pony who came to life and helped a little girl sort through her mixed-up feelings. The story made Adriana feel safe, and she knew that one day she wanted to share that feeling with others. Now 12 years old, Adriana is ready to share her story and give kids in foster care the hope and comfort they deserve—one pony at a time.
In Adriana and her mom Jane’s words, the story of My Forever Friendship Pony:
A: My name is Adriana, and I am 12 years old. It’s hard to tell my story, but I know it might help other kids who feel the way that I felt.
I went into foster care when I was four, and within eight months, I had already been in three different homes. I remember feeling nervous because I didn’t know what was happening. It was a very scary time for me. But I went to live with my forever family when I was five years old.
J: After we finalized Adriana’s adoption, we had a celebration here at the house. We asked people in lieu of gifts to come with a brand new stuffed pony for us to give to other kids still in foster care. We had about 100 ponies given to us.
For Adriana, everything was about horses —and still is.
A: I’ve always loved horses since I was a baby. And around the time I was adopted, my mom told me a story one night about a magical pony.
J: When she was younger, my husband or I told Adriana a story every night to help her settle down. She and I were having a conversation about how we could help kids who were still in foster care. I asked her what she thought we could do for them. And one night, this story just came to me.
A: It was about a little girl who was missing someone she loved, and then the girl’s stuffed pony came to life, turned rainbow colored, and shared three special messages to help the girl with her mixed-up feelings.
J: I remember I walked out of her room and told my husband that this should be a book that goes with the ponies she gives to kids in foster care. It was one of those things I couldn’t get out of my mind. I started talking about it at the elementary school where I work, and the assistant principal at the time told me that her husband was an artist and had always wanted to illustrate a children’s book. He volunteered his time and took about eight months to get all of the illustrations together. Adriana was seven by the time I finally got the book in my hands. We called it My Forever Friendship Pony.
In the back of the book, it says, “When Adriana’s mom had the idea to help children with their sad and angry feelings, Adriana told her that rainbow-colored ponies would be perfect. And that is how this book came to be. Ever since this idea developed, Adriana and her parents have been collecting stuffed ponies of all shapes and colors to be partnered with the book.
“They will donate the ponies and books to children who are in foster care, as these children have all experienced some sort of loss in their lives. It is their hope that this book and the ponies will, on some level, help the children heal their hearts.”
A: When I was in foster care, I was lonely, angry, and scared and wanted someone to hug, so I’m hoping the pony will do the same for other kids.
J: When we got the book at the start of 2014, I sold a few at my school carnival, and we gave some out to kids in foster care locally. We did very little with it at first because I wasn’t sure if Adriana was ready to share her story more widely. I wanted to make sure that she really understood what putting her story out there would mean before we took it to the next level.
About a year ago, my husband had a client who volunteered for one of the local foster care agencies, and we gave her a copy of My Forever Friendship Pony. She came back and said how much the kids loved it and that the agency would love to have books and stuffed ponies. She even gave us a donation to pay for the books.
This excited and inspired Adriana, and about four months ago, she felt like she was finally ready to share her story. So we decided to start a GoFundMe to see if we could get books and ponies in the hands of more kids.
A: With the money we raised, we were able to give another agency 50 stuffed ponies and books, and that got me started. People started donating more ponies to us, too. One of my teachers from kindergarten even organized a stuffed pony drive at school to help us get 40 more.
The ponies all look different and have special tags that say, “A forever friend to hold close to your heart whenever you need a special hug.”
J: Recently, I reached out to Kids in Distress, which was the foster care agency Adriana was in. They said they loved the book and would take as many copies as we could give them. With the money we raised through the GoFundMe, we were able to give them 50 books and ponies.
Our goal is just to give as many free books and ponies to kids in foster care as we can. And, of course, we want to help Adriana give back to other kids who are going through what she experienced.
A: I’m also raising money to help kids in foster care receive equine-assisted therapy. There is a 10-week program nearby where kids get to work with horses and a therapist to explore their feelings and get any help they may need. If I could help even one kid be able do this, I would be so happy! It costs $3,600 for the 10-week session. I know that horses have helped me a lot, and I just want to help other kids feel that way, too.
Adriana continues to raise money through her GoFundMe to provide stuffed ponies, books, and equine therapy to children in foster care.