"It's never too late because I'm grown but I'm still being adopted," Monyay said.
When you turn into an adult, the American foster system believes you are capable enough to take care of yourself, which is why they take your name off the adoption system. It's not exactly a great thing to do, because according to the Children's Home Society of Minnesota, there are about 23,000 children who age out of foster care every year without families, and they face many challenges out in the real world. Only 3 percent earn a college degree, half will develop a substance abuse problem, 60 percent of boys are convicted of crimes, and 70 percent of girls become pregnant before the age of 21.
19-year-old Monyay was placed into a foster care home when she was 11, reports ABC Action News. It was hard for her to keep moving from home to home, but when she got to senior year, she was really tired. "My senior year is when I went through one of those, 'I don't want to do it anymore, I'm done'," said Monyay. In fact, she took a year off after school to volunteer with foster kids like her, per Fox13. But, when she turned 18, Monyay realized she would be kicked out of the system, and for the first time, she wished she had a mom to help her. Little did she know her wish was about to come true.
When Monyay was in the foster care system, she met Leah Paskalides. She worked as Monyay's caseworker and mentor with the Safe Children Coalition. Leah apparently always wanted to adopt Monyay, but she couldn't as it was a conflict of interest with her work. "She always said, 'I wish you could adopt me, wish you could adopt me,' and I couldn't because of the job and then I was watching a documentary where the person had been adopted as an adult, and I had never really heard of it," Leah said. "She was always a kid that did not deserve to go through life without a support system of a family," Leah added.
When she aged out, Leah learned that she could still adopt Monyay. "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." On April 27 2021, a judge signed the adoption papers, making them official. "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. The best part about the whole adoption is that when the two met five years ago, they didn't hit it off.
"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," said Monyay. But, with time, the two got closer and formed an unbreakable bond. "She was very motivated and had aspirations for a future, and so I knew she just needed support," Leah said. Now, the new family is hoping to raise awareness to let foster kids know they can still be adopted as adults. "It's never too late because I'm grown but I'm still being adopted," Monyay said. "Just because it didn't happen then it doesn't mean that it won't happen." Monyay hopes to open her own group home for teens so she can offer help to kids like her.