BRADENTON, Fla. (NEWS10) — A heartwarming story out of Bradenton is re-defining what it means to be a family. A caseworker who grew up in Saratoga Springs, New York is a new mom to a 19-year-old who spent much of her childhood and all of her teenage years in foster care.
After the judge declared the adoption official, Leah Peskaledis and Monyay Peskaledis shared a hug for the first time as mother and daughter.
“Everything is official, the one thing that I wanted since I was a kid has finally come true,” said Monyay.
“I made her a promise that I would find her an adoptive family. I just didn’t know that I would be the adoptive family,” said Leah, Monyay’s former caseworker, now mom.
The pair met when Monyay was just 13-years-old and they formed a close bond. But because of her job, Leah wasn’t able to adopt Monyay until she aged out of the foster care system. That day has come. Now both mother and daughter are encouraging others to consider adopting older kids and teens.
“I just wish that people that are open to adoption don’t look at an age and a picture and are just open to getting to know them as a person,” said Leah.
“Most people believe that we’re in here because we got into some kind of trouble, but really it’s just the circumstance and, no, we don’t want to be in here either,” said Monyay.
In fact, Monyay excelled in school, graduating early and receiving recognition for her volunteer work.
“Just knowing that when I turned 18 I was going to be by myself, that’s really what drove me to push myself to graduate early despite everything,” she said.
Not by herself any longer, she’s ready to embrace what’s to come and continue helping those who have yet to find their families.
“Enjoy my future with my mom as my mom and then I want to continue to raise awareness for teen and adoption and adoption period,” she said.
Leah says part of the motivation for making it official are the legal rights that come along with a parent-child relationship, including when it comes to medical issues. The pair will be celebrating their first mother’s day together this weekend.