As she pours strawberry milk into a Hello Kitty sippy cup, junior elementary education major Theresa Johnson, a Beall Hall resident assistant, smiles at her new 2-year-old daughter.
More than a year and a half ago, Child Protective Services brought Camiya Rose-Marie, along with her biological brother, to the Johnsons’ residence in San Antonio.
The two children were supposed to be in transition at the foster home until CPS could get them situated with a permanent family.
“The moment when they opened the door, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh she’s gorgeous. I just love her,’” she said.
Camiya was 4-months-old at the time.
“That day she didn’t have on much clothing, a car seat or anything else.”
Johnson grew up in a large family, and she’s only known what it’s like to be in a loving home.
“My Mom just retired last year,” she said, “My Dad’s always been a stay at home, so it was awesome, and now every time we come home, we have Mom and Dad.”
Her parents have adopted seven children and have seven of their own.
Growing up in a full house with 13 siblings was “an awesome experience” for Johnson.
“It’s always loud, but once everybody’s asleep, you would never know how many people live there,” she said.
Her mother legally added both small children into their household.
“We ended up saying, ‘Well, maybe we can work this out and we can adopt them,’” she said.
But on Dec. 7, Camiya’s second birthday, a new mother had been lined up for her.
“I had gotten sick, and my mom told me I should come home because I didn’t sound good,” Johnson said.
“Really it was just a surprise to say, ‘Oh here, we’re at court, so what are you going to make her name?’”
Johnson went through the legal procedures in order to offi cially adopt the child she was drawn to the instant they met.
Keeping Camiya’s first name, she added Rose-Marie as her middle name, because “she bloomed in my life like a little rose.”
“Since it (the adoption) was from my Mom, that’s what made it easy,” Johnson said.
“From day one, since CPS brought her to the house she’s always been mine.”
Camiya continues to spend weekends in Belton with her new mom at Beall, while staying at her grandparents’ house during the week.
During Christmas break, the two spent a lot of quality time with each other.
“We go to Incredible Pizza when we have alone time,” she said, “Most of the time I have my niece or nephew because they’re in the same age group, and we’ll go to the park or McDonald’s.”
Johnson said “the situation was hurtful” knowing what her daughter had been through before the adoption was finalized.
She now sees the circumstance “as a blessing.”