In 1996, Lou Anne Denny was working on a Habitat for Humanity project when she spotted a small toddler crawling out of the window of the house next door. The child was unsupervised and hungry. Her name was Jasmine.
Lou Anne and her husband, Doug, spent the next several years trying to help Jasmine’s parents overcome their drug addictions. When it became clear Jasmine’s parents would never get clean, the Dennys adopted her.
Soon afterward, they learned Jasmine suffered from reactive attachment disorder, or RAD, caused by Jasmine’s birth parents’ failure to properly bond with Jasmine as a baby. Because of RAD, Jasmine struggled to relate socially to others, and refused to bond with her new parents. She was disruptive, deceptive, and emotionally remote.
In their search for a specialist who understood RAD, the Dennys encountered a doctor who suggested they give up on Jasmine. Otherwise, he said, they would likely end up in poor health, with their home lives turned upside down.
But the Dennys didn’t give up. Instead, they connected Jasmine to the Youth Opportunity Center, where they met Malyssa May. Malyssa – who was the Director of the TASC Unit at the time – had an extensive understanding of RAD. “From day one, she supported and encouraged us,” Lou Anne said.
After a 22-month stay at the Youth Opportunity Center, Jasmine emerged with a new attitude toward her family and school. “Without the YOC and Malyssa May, I don’t think Jasmine would be in our home today,” Lou Anne said.
For the first time in years, the Dennys are looking to the future with a sense of hope. Jasmine is on her way to graduating from high school, and she hopes to attend college in 2012.
“The YOC gave our daughter a chance, and our family a chance,” Doug said. “And that’s a chance we never would have gotten without them.”