‘Oh, you’re babysitting?’ ‘They’re mine,’ says the narrator. I’m a 30-year-old black mother with three white children. In my house, love has no color.’ ‘Love is love,’ says a woman who adopts a boy and two siblings from foster care.

“A little background on myself: I am the youngest of eleven children. My mother died when I was six years old. I’ve never had anyone teach me how to be a mother, yet it seems to come naturally to me. I’ve babysat for 20 nieces and nephews, three great-nieces, and a slew of relatives over the years. Since graduating from high school, I’ve worked in the childcare field. I’ve always babysat for various families and considered myself a natural when it comes to caring for youngsters. I had no idea how much three children would affect my life…

Courtesy of Treka Engleman
Courtesy of Treka Engleman

I’d wanted to be a foster mom for a long time. Nonetheless, I was always afraid to begin the foster care path since I didn’t believe a single person like myself could be a foster mother (no spouse, no children). I didn’t think I’d be eligible, but I researched, asked around, and called anyway. It turns out that all you need is to be at least 21 years old, and you can be single or married! I discussed it with my family and ultimately decided to go for it! I was rooming with my sister when I decided to get my two-bedroom apartment and begin the process.

Courtesy of Treka Engleman

I called St. Joseph Orphanage in August of 2016, and they sent me the schedule and everything I needed to get started with my lessons. It was a complete emotional roller coaster during the two months of lessons. Some classes were easy to sit through, while others were difficult. Hearing about some of the children placed in foster care brought tears to my eyes and broke my heart. I lost my mother when I was a child, but I couldn’t imagine not having my family. I wanted to take in as many kids as I could at the time.

Classes went on and on, and I was nearing the end. I chose which gender, ethnicity, and age group I wanted to cultivate. There was never any doubt in my mind about it. I instantly drew the lines for African-American and Caucasian people. I am unconcerned with color. No matter what hue you are, love is love. I figured I’d go with four and five in terms of ages. When my classes were finished, I had my home study, and I was approved for up to four children. ‘Woah…a that’s a lot!’ I said. ‘Are you sure you’re ready for this?’ But I was prepared, and I knew that I was capable of completing this task in my heart. It was now time to get going!

St. Josephs told me they might get a call at any time of day requesting a kid’s placement and then had to find a family willing to take the child. After that, they’d submit your information as well as your home study, and you’d be paired. I waited with bated breath. One day, I called my case manager and told her I was thinking about having a baby. She said she’d put it on my to-do list. I had no idea I’d get a call the next day! ‘We have a five-day-old that is looking for a home.’ ‘How old?!’ I wondered. I couldn’t say no once she gave me some context. Sure, yes, he can come to my house, I told her. Elijah Lee Hill visited my house on December 8, 2016. My heart fell when they brought this tiny little infant into my home. He turned out to be my first placement, not my last!

Courtesy of Treka Engleman

The following year, on May 10, 2017, I received a call about two sisters needing placements, and of course, I said yes. ‘All right, we’ll be there later tonight,’ they said. When I answered the door, this lovely, tiny little girl stood. Even though they indicated two sisters would be arriving, her name was Alexis Bowman, and I understood she was alone. I soon learned that Mercedes Bowman, her sister, had gotten herself into some problems and had been committed to a group home. I made sure they communicated as much as possible. We went to see them on weekends when we had free time so they could spend time together. Mercedes relished the opportunity to brag about her sister to her pals at the group home.

Courtesy of Treka Engleman

We needed to find a bigger apartment as Elijah grew older. We looked for a three-bedroom house and eventually got one, not realizing that our family would grow much more. It turned out that Alexis was missing her sister, and Mercedes was about to leave the group home. When I learned about this, I immediately contacted the caseworker and discussed the possibility of Mercedes moving in with us. That was something the caseworker was all about.

Courtesy of Treka Engleman

We began with overnight visits, and on March 16, 2018, Mercedes moved in with us. The girls, as well as little Eli, were ecstatic. So now it was just me, a 30-year-old single mother with three children ranging in age from one to fifteen. What the hell was I thinking?

Courtesy of Treka Engleman

Do you have any idea what I was thinking? I adore these children and would not have it any other way. They required a home, and I had more than enough to offer. They were welcomed into my family right away. My family doesn’t see color; we’re simply a bunch of kids that needed someone. Yes, I’ve gotten my fair share of looks while out in public, but we keep marching on. People have asked me, “Oh, are you babysitting?” to which I respond, “No, these are my children.” There were no questions asked. I never refer to my children as “foster children.” Because that is exactly what they are and will always be.

Courtesy of Treka Engleman

I asked the kids whether it was okay to adopt them when they found out they could be adopted. No one had to second-guess their responses; it was a resounding YES! We discussed adoption with the caseworker, who was convinced that we would be together for the rest of our lives. ‘Where have they been concealing you?’ she kept asking. We were all looking forward to the start of this process.

The adoption process was lengthy and involved a great deal of paperwork. They asked the kids if they wanted to keep or change their last names. They’d take the kids and talk to them to make sure that was what they wanted. ‘Am I good enough?’ I used to wonder. Is it possible for me to provide them with what they genuinely require?’ So, what’s this? That is something I am capable of. The amount of support I receive from my family is incredible. They’ve always been there for me, even when people said, ‘Are you sure about adoption?’ That means you’ll be responsible for their financial well-being, right?’ ‘Do you think three kids isn’t a lot?’ But none of that was important to me! One of the most pleasing recollections will always be how they lighted up with joy when they found out what was about to happen.

One of the most memorable days of our life occurred on November 1, 2019. The day we officially joined Team Engleman! I moved from being a single person to having a family of four. This isn’t the end, either, but we’re having fun right now.

Courtesy of Treka Engleman
Courtesy of Treka Engleman
Courtesy of Treka Engleman
Courtesy of Treka Engleman

I want to say to all the offended individuals when they learn that I, a black woman, had adopted three white children because I am doing something that most people could not. These youngsters are raised in a beautiful home by a caring mother. In my house, love has no hue, and they are loved unconditionally. I’ve been talked about my whole life, but it’s never stopped me from accomplishing what I was intended on this earth to do. I have a goal in mind, and I want to achieve it! If you’re thinking of fostering or adopting a child, I say go for it if it’s in your heart. One of the most pleasing sensations in the world is knowing that you have helped a boy or girl find a home and a reason to be happy. It makes no difference if you’re single, divorced, or married, or if you’re black or white. You have the power to transform someone’s life!”

Courtesy of Treka Engleman

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