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Caseworker adopts 19-yr-old that’s spent years in foster care, letting her know “she is wanted”
At age 11 Monyay was placed in a group home and after years in the system, she was used to hearing ‘No’ and having no one to adopt her.
Emma Shallcross
04.29.21

As if life in foster care isn’t difficult enough, the older a child gets, the less likely they are to find somebody willing to adopt them.

Adoptive parents often favor a younger child so that they have more years to grow a bond, or perhaps because they believe that older children might be more badly behaved.

The sad reality is that many older children go through foster care into adulthood without ever having someone to call their parents.

FOX 13
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FOX 13

Monyay Paskalides was one of those children. She had spent the majority of her teenage years in foster care, after being placed into a group home when she was 11.

Although no one came forward to adopt her, Monyay formed a close bond with a woman named Leah Paskalides, who worked as her caseworker and mentor with the Safe Children Coalition.

FOX 13
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FOX 13

Leah was keen to take on the role of being Monyay’s mom- but a conflict of interest with her job meant that she wasn’t allowed.

Monyay excelled at school, graduating a year early and volunteering to help other children in her situation. She was the opposite of the troubled foster teenager that you might expect.

“She was always a kid that did not deserve to go through life without a support system of a family,” Leah told FOX 13 Tampa Bay.

FOX 13
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FOX 13

Although Leah already played a significant role in Monyay’s life, securing the title of ‘mom’ was very important to her.

“It was important to me that she knew that she was wanted by somebody, that somebody loved her,” Leah explained. “I could say that as many times as I want, but actions speak louder than words.”

Finally, when Monyay turned 18, she was met with some good news.

FOX 13
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FOX 13

Now that she was an adult, the adoption rules had changed, meaning that Leah would be able to officially become her mom. On Tuesday of this week, Monyay and her mom signed their adoption papers, securing their lifelong bond.

It was an emotional moment that brought both mom and daughter to tears.

FOX 13
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FOX 13

“Being told ‘no’ so many times, to hear that ‘yes’ and to hear them pronounce her as my mom, it’s something that’s like, oh my gosh, this is for real,” Monyay said.

“It’s never too late because I’m grown but I’m still being adopted,” she continued. “Just because it didn’t happen then it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.”

FOX 13
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FOX 13

“With my signature, it is official,” Judge Teri Dees said via zoom, as a crowd of Monyay’s loved ones burst into applause. “Happy adoption day.”

Now, Monyay and her mom look forward to the rest of their lives together as mother and daughter.

FOX 13
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FOX 13

“To me, this is closure,” Monyay said. “This is something I’ve always wanted.”

The pair aim to raise awareness about adoption- particularly the adoption of teenagers. Monyay wants to give others hope that even if they don’t get adopted as a child, there’s still hope for them in the future.

FOX 13
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FOX 13

What a lovely ending to a beautiful story! Take a look at the moment that Monyay and Leah officially became mother and daughter below.

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By Emma Shallcross
hi@sbly.com
Emma Shallcross is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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