As this 19 year old flips into the air doing gymnastics, its easy to see that she truly fits her name. Aerial Johnson always has a spring in her step. But this young lady has had her fair share of ups and downs. "It all started when I was young. I was about nine," says Aerial.
As a young girl, Aerial was basically left to raise her two brothers. Her Dad was no where around, her mom was barely there. "My mom had some drugs problems, illegal drugs, and CPS came and I remember them taking us," explains Aerial.
She ended up in Hughes Springs, Texas in a Foster home. This teenager goes on to say, "My Foster Mom was a complete stranger when I first came to her. Then, all of a sudden, I started calling her my Grandmother." Ouida Haten became more than her "Grandmother," she became her strength when she gets discouraged. Ouida says, "I've always told her to walk with pride and make sure she put her best foot forward. I'd say, 'You can do it, if anyone can.'"
Aerial has proved she can. She works in the High School Principal's office as an aid. She's also involved in many activities including cheerleading, volleyball, basketball, church choir, and she's an exemplary student. "I wouldn't mind having a classroom full of Aerials," says Ether Blaylock, one her teachers. She adds, "Aerial is just one of those students you like to have around because she encourages other students to do their best and she always puts forth 110%."
Aerial makes friends easily and is quick to offer advice when she disapproves of their actions. "I see the way they treat their parents and I tell them, 'If I had parents I wouldn't do that. You shouldn't do this to your parents.'" Aerial remembers well those days of neglect and what it took to survive. "Sometimes it got pretty bad like I'd have to hide money, hide food, stuff like that. Sometimes you feel like you're in a world by yourself," Aerial says.
This teenager has come a long way, relying on her faith. She's grateful for her Foster home experience and encourages others to make the most of theirs saying, "I know the pain they go through everyday cause I've met with a lot of Foster kids around the area and you can make it. I did, and you can too." Ouida says, "Aerial is a very strong young lady and I am very blessed to have had her in the home."
Aerial is now just weeks from graduation at Hughes Springs High School. Principal Rick Ogden says "Aerial will be missed in her cheerleading roles, her leadership roles, her personality, her smile. She will be missed when she leaves here. She's one that makes our job worthwhile." As Aerial is about to embark on a new journey in her life, she looks back with no regrets. "No, cause it made me a better person. It made me strong."
Aerial is planning to attend college in Texas. She's not sure about a major, but is leaning towards nursing.
If you'd like to know more about Adoption or Fostering a child, call our Gift of Love hotline. The toll free number is 1-888-kids-275.