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Nurse adopts teen mom of triplets who didn't have a support system and changes her life

Katrina Mullen, a neonatal nurse at Community Hospital North, became a foster parent and adopted a teen mom of triplets.

Nurse adopts teen mom of triplets who didn't have a support system and changes her life
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Katrina Mullen

Katrina Mullen, a neonatal nurse at Community Hospital North in Indianapolis, Indiana, played a pivotal role in the life of Shariya Small, a teen mom who gave birth to triplets at the hospital. The 14-year-old spent more than five months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with her babies before being discharged. Mullen became concerned that Shariya was always alone and that she had no one to support her. She didn't push Shariya, who was reluctant to share her personal life, but instead, taught her about newborn care, and Shariya taught her about TikTok. Shariya came to trust the nurse after Mullen revealed that she was also a teen mom who placed her son for adoption at age 16.

Before the triplets were discharged, Mullen gave Shariya her cell phone number and told her to call her if she needed anything. Shariya began texting and FaceTiming her regularly, and Mullen would listen to her when she was crying and overwhelmed. However, she became increasingly concerned about Shariya's support system and decided to drive an hour to Kokomo, Indiana, where according to TODAY, Shariya was living with a relative.

Mullen was alarmed by what she saw. The triplets were sleeping together in an infant playpen, and Shariya was relegated to a couch. Samari, one of the triplets, had been throwing up and losing weight even though the doctor had switched his formula.


Samari was admitted to a nearby hospital, where he was diagnosed with failure to thrive, which is when a child's weight measurements fall below the third or fifth percentile due to inadequate nutrition. Shortly after, Mullen received a call from the Department of Social Services (DSS) notifying her that Shariya and her babies were being removed from their home. The caseworker asked Mullen if she would be willing to take them in, and immediately agreed.

Mullen took all the classes to become certified as a foster parent, and friends and relatives donated cribs, strollers, clothes and bouncy chairs. She fostered Shariya and the babies for 668 days, during which Shariya graduated from an alternative high school with an A- average and is now touring nearby colleges. She plans to pursue a career in social work.


Mullen marvels at how far Shariya has come. She revealed that the teen has learned how to manage difficult emotions, is working on her communication skills in therapy and always puts her children's needs first. In the beginning, Mullen was doing everything for the babies, and Shariya was observing and participating when she felt confident enough to do so. Now, Shariya is in charge, and Mullen only provides backup.

Mullen is now officially Shariya's mom, after adopting her on February 6. After sharing an adoption day photo on a Facebook page for foster parents, the story went viral and was first reported by the Indianapolis Star. Mullen also has set up a GoFundMe to help "build a nest egg for Shariya and the babies."


Mullen's story shows how a small act of kindness and empathy can make a big difference in someone's life. She didn't push Shariya to share her personal life, but instead, built trust by sharing her own experience as a teen mom who placed her son for adoption.

She was always there for Shariya when she needed someone to talk to, and when she saw that the teen needed help, she didn't hesitate to take her in. Mullen's story is a testament to the power of human connection and the importance of having a support system.

"I’m so proud to be Shariya’s mom," Mullen said. “She just amazes me every day. When she’s frustrated with the babies, she never raises her voice. She’s just blossoming into this incredible woman."

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