HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - November is Adoption Awareness Month. Many families are receptive to the idea of adopting a baby or a young child. Yet, what about the thousands of older children in foster care who also need a loving home?
Every year, 20,000 teenagers age out of foster care and many are forced to fend for themselves without any support. A Huntsville teenager was sure she was about to face that difficult reality when something happened that would change her life forever.
In many ways, Brooklyn Handfield is a typical teenager. She loves hanging out with family and friends and playing with her pet guinea pig. Yet, rewind her life 11 months, and she was in a much different place.
"I told my APAC worker that if I didn't have a family by January, I was not being adopted. That was not an option and I was going to age out," Brooklyn said.
Brooklyn admits that as she approached her 18th birthday, she was losing hope in a lot of things. That includes having a family of her own. Yet, just as she was on the verge of giving up, the Handfields were strongly considering adoption.
"There are kids out there, right now, waiting, who need families," Amy Handfield said.
During their research, the Handfield family discovered the Heart Gallery adoption website and a desire to help foster children.
"Everyone deserves a family. Everybody deserves to have somebody standing in their corner and walking them through, you know, being teenagers, graduation, becoming a young adult, and so on. We knew we had a teenage daughter out there and we had to go find her," Amy Handfield said.
And they found her after seeing Brooklyn's profile.
Brooklyn said she still can't believe that her adoption is real.
"I didn't think it was going to happen. I mean I'm happy about it, but I just thought I was going to be another statistic from foster care," she said.
Instead, now she's a different number. Brooklyn is one of five members of her forever family.
When asked, "Do you feel like she rescued you?" Brooklyn didn't hesitate. She said, "Yeah. because, if I aged out, I think I would have just given up on everything."
Brooklyn admitted that she was in a dark place before the Handfield family looked into adopting her.
"I was cutting myself. I had a plan of suicide and it took the group home mom to go through my journal to realize I was being serious. Because I had everything planned out. A set time. A set date. Everything. And it was two days before I was going to do it when she found my journal," she said.
And because of that, Brooklyn found a family who will stand by her and love her, no matter what.
Amy Handfield made that very clear.
"I try to make it my mission every single day to just show her God's grace, mercy, and unconditional love, every day, just like I do with my other two," she said.
Brooklyn is now optimistic about her future. She's working on finishing up her GED so she can study to be a nurse. Her mother is asking families to consider adopting a foster child, saying, "we can't let fear keep us from our greatest blessings."
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