Caseworker Adopts 19-Year-Old Teen Who Spent Childhood In Foster Care After She Ages Out Of System


Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A caseworker in Florida adopted a 19-year-old teenager who aged out of state foster care system, numerous sources reported.

Leah Paskalides, a caseworker who was caring for 19-year-old Monyay since she was 16 years old, officially took on the role as Monyay’s mother on April 27, when a judge signed adoption documents, Fox 13 News reported

Monyay had been in the state’s foster care system since she was 11. Leah became her caseworker and mentor through the Safe Children Coalition, and supported her through high school. 

“She was always a kid that did not deserve to go through life without a support system of a family,” Leah said, according to Fox 13 News. (RELATED: Foster Parents Are Making Our Nation Stronger)

Monyay said at first, she didn’t like Leah.

“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,” she said, according to WFTS.

But the two developed a close relationship overtime. Monyay was a successful student and graduated a year early, while Leah supported her ambitions even when Monyay had moments where she didn’t feel as motivated. 

“My senior year is when I went through one of those, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore, I’m done’….and she said, ‘I got you,'” Monyay said, according to WFTS. 

“She was very motivated and had aspirations for a future, and so I knew she just needed support,” Leah said, according to WFTS.

Due to restrictions in Leah’s job, however, she couldn’t adopt Monyay while also serving as her caseworker, Fox 13 News reported.

But when Monyay turned 19 and aged out of the state’s care system, Leah considered the possibility of an adult adoption after watching a documentary featuring a person who had been adopted as an adult. 

“She always said, ‘I wish you could adopt me, wish you could adopt me,’” Leah said, according to WFTS. 

“She was always a kid that did not deserve to go through life without a support system of a family,” Leah said, according to Fox 13 News. 

Once it was possible, the two filled out the necessary documents to go through with the adoption, and a judge finalized it over a Zoom call. 

Monyay said her story with Leah inspired her to help others who faced similar circumstances as she did in the foster care system. She told Fox 13 News that she’d like to open a group home for teens one day, so she can support teens who don’t have families.

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