Santana Dempsey was taken away from her biological mother Sandy at the age of three alongside her younger sister Gala for child neglect and placed into the foster care system. Their biological father Juan Manuel abandoned them months prior and has never been heard from again.
Santana spent over three years in a foster home waiting to be reunited with Sandy but she was never able to meet the courts requirements for family reunification. A week later, Sandy committed suicide with a single gunshot to the chest.
Within that same year, the girls were put up for adoption. A white Midwestern couple, Vicki & Terrell Dempsey adopted both sisters together at ages six and four. Santana’s new home with the Dempsey’s, though filled with love and stability, still had its challenges. Her first dinner out with her new dad, he turned to Santana and goes, “you are just so beautiful.” Santana turns and firmly replies, “no we ain’t. We are n***ers.”
Even though Santana excelled in school and sports, she struggled much of high school with her identity, feeling othered, and not worthy of love. As an adult, she’s had a hard time having long term, intimate relationships, for fear of being abandoned again. It is something Santana still has to actively work on reminding herself: she is lovable. She is enough. She did nothing wrong.
Currently, @santanadempsey lives in LA as an actor, painter and writer. She’s a lover of curly hair/afros and solo travel. She’s working on a collection of short stories about childhood trauma and adoption. She believes our differences are our biggest assets!