Monyay Paskalides now celebrates two birthdays: the day she was born and the day she was officially adopted by Leah Paskalides, her former caseworker.
Monyay, 19, of Bradenton, Florida, spent most of her childhood in foster care. Six years ago, Leah, 32, became her caseworker, and she told Good Morning America that once she gained Monyay's trust, "we just clicked." She became Monyay's mentor, and helped her as she aged out of the foster care system once she turned 18. This was a hard time, Monyay said, because she went from living in a group home where adults could "help you immediately" to being on her own.
Leah couldn't adopt Monyay while she was still in the foster care system, as it would be a conflict of interest, but after she watched a documentary about a man who was adopted as an adult, she approached Monyay to see if she was open to the idea. "I wanted to make sure she knew that she had somebody who loved her and who would have done this years ago and still would as an adult," Leah told GMA.
Monyay was overjoyed by the offer, telling GMA "that's the one thing I've wanted my entire life, to have a mom." On April 27, Leah officially adopted Monyay, who changed her last name and now calls Leah "mom." Monyay is also a mentor to foster youth, and talks with them about expectations and what they can accomplish in life. "I never expected to be adopted, and here I am," she said, adding that her new mom "never gave up on me."