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Success Story: Sister and Brother Get a Loving Home When Teacher Fosters Then Adopts Them

Michelle and her family pose on the couch in this foster care adoption success story

“Yes, it’s hard. It’s REALLY hard,” says Michelle, who began as a foster mom and adopted the two children in her care. “But the overwhelming joy that comes with each milestone, each victory, each tiny success towards healing… the joy in these moments far outweighs anything on the foster care journey. My friends always say how much the kids needed me, but it didn’t take me long to realize that it was I who needed them.Get inspired by the foster care and adoption success story of Michelle, a teacher who cared for two of her students as a non-related kinship caregiver, and eventually adoptive mother. Now the children are thriving, and Michelle is encouraging others to take the first step to learn more about fostering or adopting a child in need.

Becoming a Foster Parent

The inspiration that led Michelle to become a foster parent began 25 years ago, when Michelle started working as a teacher. “I always had those kids in my class that I saw and hoped that someone would take them home and give them a better life,” she shares. Even with her big heart for her students, Michelle never imagined foster care could be an option for her, or something she would want to do.

However, all of that changed when she moved to teach in Johnson County and witnessed her niece as a foster parent through KVC. Michelle enjoyed getting to know the children her niece cared for. And she was eager to learn more about foster care processes and goals, like family reunification, which opened her eyes and gave her a new perspective.

After that, Michelle decided to take the foster parenting classes offered through KVC and fix up the bedrooms in her home. In August 2017, she received her license and welcomed her first child into her home and family. Her first placement felt like a struggle due to a language barrier, and Michelle felt discouraged. But she didn’t lose hope.

Guided to Accept More

After her first foster care experience felt overwhelming, Michelle continued as a foster mom of one. But she was hesitant to take on another placement and even felt reluctant to respond to calls and messages from KVC. But on Halloween night 2017, Michelle answered a phone call that would change not only her life but the lives of two precious children.

That night, when a KVC admissions coordinator called, Michelle had every intention of saying she needed a break. “I started by saying, ‘My hands are full right now and I need to put my house on hold.”

The admissions coordinator responded by thanking Michelle for caring for the teen she was currently fostering and encouraged her to reach out when she was ready. Michelle expressed her willingness to care for children from her school in Olathe, and miraculously, the conversation didn’t end there.

A Miraculous Connection

After a brief pause, the KVC team member told Michelle that a young brother and sister from her school had entered foster care just a couple of hours earlier and were in need of a safe, loving home. The admissions coordinator then asked Michelle if she would be willing to care for them. Michelle said yes.

As soon as she heard the names of the two children, Michelle instantly recognized them from her work at the school. “I had flashbacks of these kids,” she recalls. “I knew who they were, and had seen the holes in the young boy’s clothes and even worked with the young girl through school.”

Michelle readily agreed to care for the children, Mikhayla and Dakota, who arrived at her doorstep that very Halloween night. Dressed in Halloween costumes, they carried the weight of the world on their little shoulders. Yet, their faces lit up with joy upon seeing a familiar teacher from their school.

In the Beginning

Before the children were in Michelle’s care, she had worked with Mikhayla at school. Michelle remembered feeling worried about Mikhayla, noticing that her parents weren’t taking proper care of her. At one point, Michelle remembers praying for the little girl.

After Mikhayla and Dakota were safely in Michelle’s home, she began to learn about the conditions of their previous home. “The children were neglected, abused, starved and living in terrible conditions, basically going through everything you can think of,” Michelle tearfully remembers.

Michelle recalls the heartbreak and devastation she felt as she heard stories about how Dakota and Mikhayla were abused — psychologically, emotionally, physically and sexually. Foster parents do everything they can to help children heal from previous trauma. Even with all the training and support they receive from KVC case managers, therapists and other KVC team members, foster parents are so important for showing children love and compassion through tough times.

But with consistency, patience, love and trust, Dakota and Mikhayla have healed from some of their past. Michelle is proud of them and knows they have a long journey of healing ahead of them. “It’s been the hardest to get them to trust others,” she says, “because the people who they were supposed to be able to trust and count on hurt them so badly.”

Becoming a Family

Michelle and her family pose on the couch while holding a wooden sign that says "family" in this foster care adoption success story“If you want to look up ‘overcome’ in the dictionary, their picture ought to be right there, because they really have overcome so much,” Michelle says. A testament to their resilience and Michelle’s hard work, the children who went through so much love to have fun! They look forward to summer days spent at the pool and Dakota even decided to join the swim team at his school!

Mikhayla has a love of music and singing, and Michelle says “It’s been a great therapy for her to heal through song.” Curious, Michelle once asked Mikhayla if she used singing and music to get through scary times. The answer was no, Mikhayla explained.

“She told me, ‘I never had a reason to sing before I left,’ but she finds every chance to sing now,” Michelle said.

When a court ruled that it would never be safe for the kids to return to their biological home, the path opened for Michelle to adopt the kids. After Michelle worked with KVC to complete all of the required paperwork and steps, she joyfully told Mikhayla and Dakota they would all become a family on Christmas Day. Hear the family’s foster care and adoption success story from Dakota’s perspective and see the adoption reveal video from Christmas here.

On a recent Mother’s Day, Mikhayla called into a local radio station to share what an amazing difference her mom, Michelle, has made in her life. During the heartwarming call, Mikhayla said, “This week for Mother’s Day, I’m gonna have to give her the biggest hugs because she adopted me.”

“She’s my new mom, and I love her so much, and I just don’t know how to express it,” Mikhayla said.

“Hopefully this shows how much I love her,” Mikhayla said. “She has helped me see things that I haven’t seen in years.”

Support from KVC 

Mikhayla singing at KVC’s National Adoption Day Celebration in 2023

On adoption day, the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” came to life. Michelle was grateful to have the support of the family’s adoption worker, case manager and other loved ones in attendance to witness this joyous moment. From the very beginning, KVC has guided the children and Michelle through this journey and to each other. Michelle notes, “These children may not still be alive if it wasn’t for KVC, and they have just been so present and so willing to help.”

Beyond the necessary check-ins and support, KVC extended our care into Mikhayla and Dakota’s everyday lives. Members of our team attended sporting events, school plays, and have gone the extra mile to support Michelle’s family and make sure they felt a community of support. During the holiday season, KVC’s Holiday Heroes program provided Christmas gifts for Mikhayla and Dakota in the hopes of bringing extra cheer.

Even now, with Mikhayla and Dakota’s adoption finalized, KVC remains in touch with the family. We invited Michelle, Dakota and Mikhayla to our National Adoption Day celebration in 2023 where Mikhayla beautifully sang for all of the families who were finalizing their children’s adoptions.

Faith Builds a Family

Michelle and her family pose outside in this foster care adoption success storyDakota and Mikhayla used to pray for a loving family, and from the day they entered into Michelle’s life, that’s exactly what they got. Although it wasn’t easy, and the process was sometimes long and hard, Michelle is happy to call these two her own. This family’s success story of resilience, trust and joy is all because of a miraculous phone call.

“I had no reason to live; now I do,” Dakota said. “I didn’t want to live in constant torture or constant fear, anxiety. Now I don’t have to go through that anymore. I feel loved.

Answer the Call: Become a Foster Parent

Each member of Michelle’s family has grown in ways they never imagined. Mikhayla and Dakota are thriving, and Michelle is encouraging others to take the first step to learn more about fostering or adopting a child in need. Just as KVC walked alongside Michelle, Mikhayla and Dakota, we will walk alongside you as you explore foster parenting and adoption.

Michelle becomes emotional while sharing her family's foster care adoption success story

“I have never felt alone on this journey,” Michelle said.

If you’re inspired by Michelle and her family, learn more about becoming a foster parent in Kansas and how KVC Kansas will support you every step of the way. Create your own success story!

Change a child's life forever. Learn about becoming a foster parent >