(BRADENTON, FLORIDA) A 19-year-old who thought she had aged out of the adoption system finally has a family to call her own, thanks to her caseworker, who is taking on the role of mom.
As a teen, Monyay spent years in state care and group homes. That's where she met her caseworker, Leah Paskalides.
"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," said Monyay.
But over the last five years, the two formed a special bond. "She was very motivated and had aspirations for a future, and so I knew she just needed support," said Paskalides.
By the time Monyay was a senior in high school, she says she was doing everything alone and realized she wished she had a mom to help her. "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,'" recalled Monyay.
That's when Paskalides stepped up.
"She always said, 'I wish you could adopt me, wish you could adopt me,' and I couldn't because of the job and then I was watching a documentary where the person had been adopted as an adult, and I had never really heard of it," said Paskalides.
So they filled out all the paperwork, and over a zoom meeting in front of a judge on Tuesday, 19-year-old Monyay gained a mother, and Paskalides a daughter.
"We're so happy; we both wanted this for so long," said Paskalides.