Jacquelynn and Kevin Patterson are adoptive parents from Kevil, Kentucky. They have three daughters. Their oldest, Haylee, was adopted through the Foundation’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program.
Our daughter, Haylee, came home to us at age 13. After living a life of uncertainty, growing up in homes that were deemed unsafe and foster homes that were not permanent, our daughter is finally home.
We met Haylee in September 2016. We weren’t sure what we were getting into, but we knew the need for foster-to-adopt families in Kentucky was critical. We also knew that teenagers were being overlooked and that thousands of teens needed loving parents. We wanted to be that family for a teenager.
During our first meeting, Haylee was shy, and it was hard to get her to talk to us. Everything changed when we learned that she likes to watch professional wrestling. Kevin loves the WWE. That was our in. From there, we moved on to playing what can only be described as the most epic and memorable game of Uno ever played. It took 90 minutes, and we laughed the entire time. Haylee began opening up and started making jokes. In the end, she won the game, but we had broken the ice. Leaving that day, we knew we had met our daughter, and Haylee says she knew she had met her parents. “I thought they were so weird, but deep down, I knew they were my family.”
When Haylee came to live with us, it was easy to see she was broken, lacked confidence and couldn’t see all the beautiful things about her. It’s hard to blame her, she had been through a lot. As she once said, “no one wanted a child like her.”
We try to instill in Haylee how much opportunity she has ahead of her. She takes joy in now being a big sister, oldest child, oldest grandchild, friend, cousin and daughter. Not everything has been smooth, but we work through the obstacles together. Every moment of resistance and frustration has been worth it.
Haylee didn’t smile in photos before. Now, she loves to smile and loves life, herself and her family. Today, when she is asked about being adopted, Haylee says, “It just feels great to be wanted and to be home.”
We have a hard time remembering life without her. It’s like she’s always been here.
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