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“I am one of the lucky ones”

Kandice Harmon

As a child, most kids are thinking about which friend is their best friend, what gadget is trending, or what they want to be when they grow up. My only thought was “Will I ever have a mother and father who love me?”

I spent most of the first eight years of my life in foster care. When I was nearly nine, I found out that my mother had forfeited her parental rights for me and my seven siblings. This was pretty devastating, because for all the years I was in foster care, I’d carried this naïve loyalty to her. It was hard to finally accept that my mother didn’t want me.

I was freed for adoption, but I was pretty sure that I’d be spending the rest of my life in foster care. I knew that everybody wanted to adopt babies and little kids. I didn’t think anyone would want a child as old as me.

But then one day my worker said that a family was interested in me! They’d seen my picture and, they told her, felt an “instant grab.” My worker asked if I wanted to meet this couple. I said, “Sure, sign me up!”

A few weeks later, the people who would become my parents drove two hours south to where I was living in Macon, Georgia. When I saw them, I couldn’t believe that this beautiful couple wanted to adopt me. Later that month, I spent Thanksgiving with them. By Christmas, I was living at their house.

This might sound like a fairy tale, but of course the transition was overwhelming. Being adopted meant leaving the friends I’d made at the group home where I’d been living. It was scary and stressful.

I knew that everybody wanted to adopt babies and little kids. I didn’t think anyone would want a child as old as me.

My adoption was finalized on April 30, 2011. I was 11 years old.

I’m 23 years old today, and I’m constantly reminding myself that I am one of the lucky ones. I have parents who love me and who support the choices I made in my life. When I told my dad I wanted to join the band, he bought me my first saxophone. He and my mom came to every band performance I ever had, and they encouraged me to study music education in college. When I go home, I still play piano and sing in the church where my father is a pastor.

When I decided to join the US Army, my parents made sure I was prepared by connecting me with family members who’d served. With their support and encouragement, I left home confident and ready to succeed.

I’ve been through a lot of trauma in my life, and the effects of that don’t disappear. My mother and father may not always understand me, but they continuously love, accept, and support me. And for that I am forever grateful.

I contacted AdoptUSKids because I want people who are thinking about adopting to look beyond babies and toddlers. There are so many kids and teens who need families. Every one of those children is special in their own way and deserves a chance to capture someone’s heart.

I also want to say to other children in foster care: Don’t give up hope! There is somebody out there ready to love you—someone who will see your picture and have an irresistible feeling that they can’t run away from. Believe me: the opportunity might not come when you want it to, but it will be there on time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kandice Harmon is a dental specialist with the US Army. She is currently stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas.