Senior Jeri Long pictured with Parks family (Ashley Tyson)
Senior Jeri Long pictured with Parks family

Ashley Tyson

A love that’s not genetic

Senior becomes adopted by close friends at school

February 11, 2015

For senior Jeri Long family definitely means more than blood. After her mom passed away, she had no family to turn to and no where to go. Every little girl dreams of living with their best friend, but for Jeri her best dream only came with her worst nightmare. Senior Caroline Parks and her family took Long in, making a bigger and better family. For Long moving in with a best friend meant losing one.

“[My mom and I]were super close, like probably too close to be honest,” Long said. “We were best friends honestly, especially since it was just us two.”

Even Caroline had a close relationship to Monica, Jeri’s mother, since she started to work for her family as nanny when Caroline’s mom was working. Her memories with Jeri and her mom started at 5th grade when she would spend the night with them while her mom was at work.

“She was definitely my go-to person and my confidant when I didn’t want to tell my mom something,” Parks said. “I remember her always eating a bag of cheetos and drinking a coke; I probably gained 20 pounds each night I stayed with her and Jeri.”

Jeri had no family ties besides her mother, the options for a home were slim and the chances of being happy with where she could go were even slimmer.

”Yeah, I could have lived with my aunt, but it would have been a long drive to Texas High everyday,” Long said. “Plus, she’s like super country and conservative, so we didn’t get along very well because we’re basically opposites.”

But Jeri and the Parks family quickly realized that they were family, even if they weren’t related or didn’t share the same blood.

“I moved in directly with Caroline,” Jeri said. “It seemed like the most natural thing to do since if I’m not at my own house with Caroline I’d be at her house.”

Jeri didn’t have time to linger and moving in with her best friend since fifth grade seemed like the most appealing option, even for the Parks.

“My mom loves Jeri so much, and Jeri’s mom was my mom’s best friend, so she would do anything for Jeri,” Parks said. “She knew that’s what Monica would want.”

According to both Long and Parks the transition was almost non-existent. Jeri felt like the Parks’ house was like her second home.

“My mom and her mom were best friends because my mom worked for her,” Long said. “It was an easy transfer honestly because I was at [Caroline’s] house a lot anyways because she’s like my best friend.”

Besides the familiarity with the home and each other, the transition wasn’t notice because the girls seemed to be too preoccupied mourning the recent loss.

“We were all super depressed when Monica died, so when Jeri moved it in it was a really sad time,” Parks said. “I think the adjustment to her moving in was sort of ignored because we had so much on our minds.”

Jeri and Caroline both had to learn to live with new things when the move happened. Most were exciting and comforting, but others moments took time to get use to.

“Her family isn’t much different from what I was used to honestly, besides living with more people to be honest,” Long said. “It use to just be me and my mom, but now it’s me, Caroline, her little sister, her mom, and another ‘adopted’ girl.”

Caroline agrees that the more the merrier, but the lack of space was the hardest to adjust to, especially for four teenage girls living under the same roof.

“Jeri and I have to share a room, which was pretty weird at first because we can’t ever get away from each other or be alone,” Parks said. “But now it’s like nothing; We’re always together and it’s pretty casual actually.”

Cons may be arguing over little things and sharing a room, but given the circumstances the whole experience has been better than imaginable. It became knowing her best friend in and out and having someone by her side all time.

“Pros would be living with your best friend, I mean, it’s fun,” Long said. “We thought we were inseparable before, but now that’s more than true.”

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