At home in Fairfax, the family is setting new domestic routines and traditions. And with the holiday season approaching, mother and daughter joke about their newest family holiday: “Chrismukkah,” a combination of Christmas and Hanukkah.
“The Christmas tree was new for me,” Weissman said. “We had our Christmas tree up last year, and we put a yarmulke up” on top of it.
Paris is at home but said it is a stark contrast from the life she left around the holidays at age 11.
“I was with my day-care provider. I’d put my sister to bed, and it was a school day, like a Wednesday or Thursday and — for some reason — I just started pouring everything out,” Paris said. “I remember telling her that if something didn’t change, I was going to take my sister and run away or kill myself.”
Paris said her birth mother, who then was a member of the military stationed at Fort Belvoir, was physically and verbally abusive to her and her younger sister, Dayha, who is five years younger. Paris has not met her biological father. At the time, her mother was in a relationship with Dayha’s father, who raped Paris from ages 6 to 8. He later was sentenced to seven years in prison and now is a registered sex offender living in Pennsylvania.
Paris and Dayha’s day-care provider reported their mother’s abuse to the military police. The girls were transferred into the county’s custody. Paris said she is not sure what punishment the military enacted against her birth mother but believes she was removed from duty.
In the four years that followed, Paris had nine home placements: three group homes, three foster homes and three stints in a residential facility, which usually are centers for those believed to be suffering from mental distress.
“I always got the answer [I was placed in a residential facility] because they had nowhere else to put me,” Paris said.
While Paris was looking for a stable home, Weissman was looking to start a family of her own. This is their treaty, a joint goal toward being a family.
“I always thought I’d have kids, and then all of a sudden I was in my 40s. I didn’t want a baby because I didn’t want to do that by myself,” said Weissman, who is a partner in a Fairfax-based accounting firm. She said adoption was an easy decision for her.
Weissman said she has been very lucky in life. She began her child search online, visiting the Fairfax Families4Kids Web site.
“There were pictures of Paris and her story, and I really liked her. Paris would tell you I started to stalk her,” Weissman said, joking.
She attended an open house on adoption and then began volunteering with Families4Kids as she fulfilled the pre-adoption requirements.