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20-Year-Old Adopted by Mentor

While young Cheyenne was trying to transition out of homelessness at 16, the child welfare agency told her that finding a foster home would be unlikely. In the province of Ontario, around a thousand teenagers age out of the foster care system every year without being placed in a foster family.

Four years later, Cheyenne beat the odds when she was adopted by Shannon Culkeen, the woman who’d been serving as her mentor. For years Shannon and Cheyenne had kept in touch and celebrated several milestones together, including Cheyenne’s high school graduation and her first pow-wow honoring her Ojibwe heritage. But it wasn’t until Shannon applied to become a first-time foster parent that she began to wonder about formalizing their relationship. When asked if she had any other children, and she realized, “I think maybe I do.”

Cheyenne has since legally added the Culkeen surname to hers, and has court documents to prove that they are now legally related. That was the culmination of two years of process, which started when Shannon took Cheyenne on a long drive to make the ask. Shannon said, “I didn't want to put any pressure on her. But in the end, I sort of freaked her out because we were driving, and I just kept on driving further and further because I couldn't spit it out. It's like proposing, but for parenthood.”

But for Cheyenne, “It was 'yes' right off the bat." She’s taken comfort from Shannon’s consistent presence. She said, “Someone has faith in me to do the right thing and will also still be there even if I don't. It's not like I'm doing anything out of fear of losing her."

Shannon’s motivation was simple. "I don't think it's ever too late to make a family.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of the lost being found and being brought into God’s family of faith and hope. When we practice adoption, we are mirroring the spirit of adoption that God has for all of us, no matter our earthly lineage.

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