In Disney’s hit animated adventure science-fiction film, Lilo said that ‘Ohana’ means family. Lilo could not have put it better—“family means no one gets left behind.” Last year, Treka Engleman, a math teacher at Winton Woods Intermediate School and single mother, adopted Mercedes, Alexis, and Elijah.
The three children became part of her family as part of the HCKids Foster Care and Adoption Services’ celebration of National Adoption Day celebration.
“Sometimes, it can be challenging, but it is very rewarding just knowing that these kids have a family that loves them, and that’s willing to take them,” Engleman said when she was asked about her message to other people who think they could never do what she did.
Mercedes, one of Engleman’s newly adopted kids from foster care, couldn’t believe that she finally found a new family. “It was a lot going on through my head. I was thinking about a lot,” she said. But ultimately, Mercedes and her siblings thought it was amazing. Alexis, on the other hand, loved the whole experience because she’s got a new family and brand-new last name.
Before the fairytale ending, Engleman had to witness the hard life of the three children. Elijah was born addicted to drugs since he was six days old, so she had to be under Engleman’s care. Since then, the toddler has been “attached to her hip.”
Engleman’s heart broke when Mercedes got in trouble and was sent to a group home. When she got separated from her siblings, Alexis was devastated—Mercedes was almost a mother to her brother and sister. Engleman sympathized with the children’s suffering. Since she has 11 siblings herself, she understood what it’s like to be separated from family. “I knew they needed to be reunited,” Treka said.
Ever since Mercedes joined the Engleman family from foster care back in March 2018, Treka noticed a significant change when Alexis started getting good grades. Also, Both Engleman and the school noticed how Mercedes’ behavior improved.
However, not everyone is touched by Engleman’s compassionate decision to open her home for the three kids. People commented after seeing the local news segment that featured the single mom. Some even insist on her self-hatred and made other terrible accusations.
“People were writing things like, ‘All these black kids in foster care and she goes and adopts white kids,’” Engleman said. Other people often mistake her as the kids’ babysitter.
Still, Engleman keeps her head high. Whenever she watches clips and pictures of her happy family, all she sees is love. Little do other people know that before she adopted her three adopted children, she has long considered becoming their parent. “We’re just like any other family. We’re just different colors.” Engleman told TODAY.
And isn’t that what being in a family all about?—When you accept each other’s differences while loving unconditionally, regardless if they’re your own or not.
Watch the video below to see how to witness Engleman’s victorious moment as a single mother: