An eight year journey ends in adoption

Freshman adopted by former foster family

Gracie Hammond

More stories from Gracie Hammond

According to the latest fact sheets by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, there are an estimated 427,910 children in the foster care system. For the past several years of her life, freshman Alahna Wheat had been part of that statistic, until she became a part of another in May 2017: the 22 percent who were adopted.

From the age of 7 Wheat had been in the foster care system. Though she started out with her siblings, they were eventually split into different homes. The outcome of their situations vary from being adopted into new homes or living with a relative.

“My mom was an addict, she couldn’t take care of me, my sister and my brother.” Wheat said. “One of them lives in Oklahoma now, one of them lives in Kansas. A couple times I thought I was going to get adopted but it turned out it didn’t work.”

Being in the foster care system has not always been an easy experience for Wheat. She has in total been in four different homes, each stay varying in time from a year or sometimes even longer.
“It was stressful. It was just like, I wanted to be in one place, but it just didn’t happen that way.” Wheat said.

Despite the uncertainty of the past, Wheat now has a family to call her own. Five years ago Wheat met the family for the first time.

“I met them the day that I moved in. It was so different from my last home,” Wheat said.

Her new family varies from past families she had in a positive way, unlike other past foster parents who she claimed “weren’t ready to be parents”.
Though she has only just been adopted as of May, the plans were not new to her.

“It took like two years to actually get it to happen from when they actually wanted it to because the system is really crazy,” Wheat said.

Moving homes and a complicated adoption process is not atypical in the foster care system.

“At first I was kind of like an introvert because I wasn’t sure what I was doing or how long I’d be staying some place, so I didn’t want to make friends if I was gonna move right away,” Wheat said.

According to a 2006 ABC News article, the average number of placements in the system for a child is 3 and the average time spent in the system is 2 years.

However, Wheat believes her experiences have changed her for the better and have caused her to grow as an individual.

“I think it’s been good, it’s been difficult but if I hadn’t been put into foster care, I probably wouldn’t have thought of how things should be,” Wheat said. “I learned a lot of things because my mom was not able to take care of us.”

Though she faced challenges in the past, Wheat is now adopted and officially part of her former foster family.

“It gets better and you’ll find some place, and it may be difficult but you’ll get through it,” Wheat said.