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19-year-old who aged out of system adopted by caseworker

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 1:00 AM CDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WFTS) - A 19-year-old from Florida who aged out of the youth adoption system got a heartwarming surprise when her caseworker decided to adopt her.

As a teenager, 19-year-old Monyay spent years in state care and group homes, where she met her caseworker, Leah Paskalides.

“She told me what she was going to be doing and helping me out with my case, and I didn’t like her. She’ll tell you that,” Monyay said.

Monyay, 19, gained a mother when her caseworker, Leah Paskalides, adopted her, even though she...
Monyay, 19, gained a mother when her caseworker, Leah Paskalides, adopted her, even though she had aged out of the youth adoption system.(Source: WFTS via CNN)

But over five years, the two formed a special bond.

“She was very motivated and had aspirations for a future, and I wanted to help her continue to have that. So, I knew she just needed support,” Paskalides said.

Paskalides gave Monyay all the support her job would allow. By the time the teen was a senior in high school, she was doing everything alone and realized she wished she had a mom to help her.

“My senior year, when I went through a ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m done,’ she picked me back up and told me, ‘I got you,’” Monyay said.

That’s when Paskalides stepped up.

“She had always said, ‘I wish you could adopt me.’ I couldn’t because of the job, and then, I was watching a documentary where the person had been adopted as an adult. I had never really heard of it,” she said.

So, the two filled out all the paperwork, and during Zoom meeting with the judge on April 27, Monyay gained a mother and Paskalides a daughter.

“I never thought I was getting adopted – never – especially not as an adult. So, my thing is don’t give up,” Monyay said.

“We’re so happy. We both wanted this for so long,” Paskalides said.

Copyright 2021 WFTS via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.