No Ordinary Aunt
Janice Brown's weekends were a hullabaloo of children, her own and her sisters'. Monday through Friday, she was an accountant at Marsh & McLennan. But when Saturday rolled around, she was off to the zoo, the skating rink or the movies with her 11-year-old son, Justin Johnson; three nephews, ages 6, 3 and 1; and a 4-year-old niece.
But Ms. Brown, 34, was not a run-of-the- mill aunt. One nephew, 3-year-old Kyle, had lived with Ms. Brown, a single mother, since he was an infant. Kyle's mother, Dawn, 23, was unable to care for her children, so two live in Flatbush with their grandmother, Juanita Lewis, and the third, Kyle, lives nearby with Ms. Brown.
Janice Brown's sister Tameshia, 24, said that Ms. Brown had stepped into the breach, initially agreeing to take Kyle for a year, after Dawn had already given custody of her oldest to her mother. But, according to Tameshia, Dawn was still a a street person so Ms. Brown took the boy permanently. Ms. Brown spelled her mother, who was also taking care of a third grandchild, every weekend. Last summer, along with Tameshia, she took the whole brood to Disney World, paying for the trip and giving her mother a few days of peace and quiet.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 10, 2001.