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Coleman plans to foster parent forever

July 10, 2012

Karla Coleman with her adopted daughter, Alexis

Throughout her life, Karla Coleman loved being around children, particularly as a mentor to young girls. As an adult, she decided to use her love of children to make a positive difference by becoming a foster parent.

Little did Coleman know, she would end up providing a permanent home to three children in need.

Coleman and Alexis during adoption proceedings in Shelby County Chancery Court

Coleman celebrated National Adoption Day this year by adopting her foster daughter, 2-year-old Alexis.

Alexis was placed in foster care at birth, having tested positive for cocaine. Youth Villages helped Coleman become Alexis’ foster mother when the baby was just 2 months old and attempts to unite her with birth family members had failed. Two years later, she can officially call Coleman “Mommy.”

By joining the Coleman family, Alexis also gained a sister and a brother, who both also were adopted from foster care.

Coleman adopted her oldest daughter, Kaylin, now 18, when the girl was 9. In 2004, Coleman became a foster parent again through Youth Villages, fostering and eventually adopting her son, Mikhail, now 7.

“I became attached to these children,” Coleman said. “I didn’t want to see them bounce from home to home. I wanted them to have some permanency.”

Coleman says Alexis calls her older brother “Bubba.”

“Mikhail loves Alexis,” Coleman said. “He’ll give her kisses and tell her. ‘I love you, Lexi.’”

Despite the setbacks she faced at birth Alexis has come a long way, Coleman says. She has been through speech, occupational and physical therapy and is now functioning at her age level. Coleman is excited for Alexis to start preschool in the fall at Immanuel Lutheran School, where Mikhail is currently a first-grader.

Coleman credits Youth Villages for making the fostering and adoption process easy. She says Youth Villages provided her with the right training and preparation she needed to care effectively for her children.

With the help of her caseworker, she has been able to get support whenever she needs services, particularly for Mikhail and Alexis, who are medically fragile.

Coleman also advocates for foster parenting and adoption, encouraging others to become foster parents.

“I tell them to go ahead and go through the training classes, if they’re interested in becoming foster parents,” she said.

“A lot of people are afraid to make the commitment, but it’s not as scary as you think. Your heart may be broken when you hear these kids’ stories, but it will mend.”

Coleman advises potential foster parents to go into fostering for the right reasons and to keep in mind that most foster children return to their families.

“No matter how long these children are with me, I want to teach them something that will impact them in the future. Years later I want them to think, ‘Ms. Coleman taught me this,’” she said.

Coleman also said she is ready to take in another child and potentially adopt again. She plans to keep fostering.

“I’ll probably be 70 and fostering,” she said with a laugh.

Learn more about fostering a child through Youth Villages at youthvillages.org.

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