Human Interest

Teen girl adopted after more than 10 years in 24 different foster homes

foster

A 17-year old Kentucky girl finally has a forever home, thanks to a loving foster mother who decided to adopt her. After 3,739 days in foster care, which included placements with 24 different families, Akyra Holstein was adopted by foster mom Katie Holstein in an emotional ceremony that took place over Zoom.

Katie always knew she wanted to be a mom, so she decided to become a foster parent in 2017. At first, she thought she would only take in young children. “I was scared, nervous, or just hesitant about taking in teenagers because you do hear a lot of horror stories,” she told PEOPLE Magazine. “But there are some great stories too, and these kids really do deserve a chance and a family, regardless of their age.”

Katie first met Akyra in 2019, when the girl came to her through a respite program that gives primary foster care parents some time off. Despite Katie’s hesitation at taking in a teenager, the two got along well. Akyra stayed with Katie on and off through 2019 before coming to her permanently in March 2020.

“I had just taken in a newborn sibling, leaving me with six kids under 6, but I couldn’t say no,” Katie said in an article at Love What Matters. “There was nowhere else for her to go and she was part of our family at that point.”

READ: Family becomes party of 10 after adopting four siblings from foster care

Katie said that while she initially was planning to keep Akyra until she aged out of the system, the teen put adoption on her heart. “A few months later, we were joking around about her future and she said, ‘Have you ever thought about adopting a teen?’ And the rest was history,” she wrote on Love What Matters. “189 days after coming to me for the last time, we said forever. They even managed to squeeze us in 3 days before she turned 17, her one wish not to have to spend another birthday in the system.”

Akyra isn’t the only new addition to the family. On the same day of her adoption, Katie also became a mom to Thomas, a little boy who had been with her since his birth.

Katie ends her story on Love What Matters with a message of encouragement for parents who may be considering fostering. “If our story does anything, I hope it inspires more people to open their homes to fostering. You don’t need to have it all together. God knows I didn’t. If I had waited for the ‘right time,’ I would have missed my kiddos,” she writes. “Say yes to older kids. You’re gonna hear the horror stories and I won’t lie, it’s not all sunshine and roses. But let me tell you how much sweeter those roses smell when you have to climb through the trenches to reach them. Every kid deserves a family. Every single one.”

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