The One Thing I’ve Wanted My Entire Life, To Have A Mom
A heartbreaking reality for the majority of youth in foster care is they may never have a forever family. Each year, about 20,000 kids age out of foster care. Nearly 40% become homeless. This constant fear is crippling but for Monyay Paskalides of Bradenton, Florida, her former caseworker and mentor adopted her at 19-years old.
Leah Paskalides, 32, previously worked as Monyay’s caseworker at the Safe Children Coalition six years ago. “I met her, and I saw a lot of myself in her,” Paskalides said of her now-daughter. “Once she trusted me, we just clicked.”
After working as Monyay’s case manager for three years, she became a mentor to her. Paskalides was unable to adopt Monyay while she was still in the foster care system, because of the conflict of interest in her role as a caseworker.
Being inspired by a documentary about a man who was adopted as an adult, Paskalides decided to reach out to Monyay about the idea. “I told her that I saw it and asked if it was something she would want, and she said yes,” Paskalides recalled. “I wanted to make sure she knew that she had somebody who loved her and who would have done this years ago and still would as an adult.”
Officially Mother and Daughter
On April 27, Paskalides and Monyay sat through an adoption hearing and officially became mother and daughter. “I still can’t really describe the way I felt in that moment. It was beyond words,” Monyay said. “That’s the one thing I’ve wanted my entire life, to have a mom.”
Monyay mentioned calling Paskalides “Mom” since the age of 16, now they share the same last name and are waiting for her new birth certificate.
“She now refers to her adoption day as her birthday, so she has two birthdays each year,” Paskalides said. “We were always close, but now when she calls me, it means something even more to her. It’s legal, and that means the world to her, because for so long she didn’t really have a mom.”
“I never expected to be adopted, and here I am,” she said. “[Paskalides] never gave up on me.”
In conclusion, we want to congratulate the Paskalides and wish them all the joy in the world. What an inspiration to us all. Family is more than blood and it brings us to tears thinking of all the children in foster care dreaming of having a family of their own.
Please continue to help kids in foster care by donating towards Together We Rise here.