"What I want to say to all the people who gave me negative comments after seeing that I, a black woman, adopted three white children: I am doing something that most couldn’t do," the mother-of-three said.
Having lost her mother at the age of 6, Treka Engleman knew firsthand the struggles of growing up without a mom. Despite the absence of a maternal figure in her life, she was a natural at taking care of children and yearned to someday open up her home to foster kids in need of love and care. However, as a single, childless young woman, Engleman doubted she'd qualify as a foster mom and hesitated to take that first step towards foster parenting. Never did she imagine that mustering the courage to go down that road would one day make her a proud mom-of-three.
"For years, I wanted to be a foster mom. Yet I was always hesitant to start the journey into foster care because I didn’t think a single person like myself could be a foster mom (no spouse, no children). I didn’t think I would qualify, but I did some research, asked around, and made some phone calls anyway. As it turns out, you just have to be at least the age of 21, you can be single or married! I talked to my family about it and I just decided I was going to go for it," she told Love What Matters.
"August of 2016, I called St. Joseph Orphanage and they sent me the schedule and what I needed to start my classes. There were two months of classes and it was a complete emotional roller coaster. Some classes were simple and some were hard to sit through. Hearing the stories about some children that go through foster care just brought tears to my eyes and broke my heart. I mean, I lost my mom when I was young, but I couldn’t imagine being without my family. At that point, I wanted to take every kid in that I could," Engleman explained.
As she neared the end of her classes, Engleman had to make decisions regarding the sex, race, and age range of the child she wanted to foster. "There was never really any question of the matter. I immediately marked African American and Caucasian. Color doesn’t matter to me. Love is love no matter what color you are," she stated. Soon after, Engleman received a life-changing call from her case manager informing her of a five-day-old baby in need of a home. "I thought to myself, ‘How old?!’ She gave me a little background and I just couldn’t say no. I told her yes, yes, yes he can come to my home. On December 8, 2016, Elijah Lee Hill came to my home. My heart just immediately dropped when they brought this tiny little baby into my home," she recounted.
A few months later, Engleman received another call about two sisters and she immediately agreed to take them in. However, when the time came, only one of the girls showed up at her doorstep. "I heard the knock on the door and there stood this beautiful, petite little girl. Her name was Alexis Bowman, but I realized she was alone, even though they said two sisters would be coming. I soon found out her sister Mercedes Bowman had gotten into some trouble and went to a group home. I made sure they kept in touch as much as possible. We visited on weekends when we were free so they could spend time together. Mercedes loved showing her sister off to her friends in the group home," she recounted.
When the time came for Mercedes to leave the group home, Engleman spoke to her caseworker about reuniting the sisters. "We started overnight visits then eventually on March 16, 2018, Mercedes came to live with us. The girls and little Eli were all so excited. So now at this point, it was me, a single mom 30 years old with 3 children ranging from 1 to 15. What was I thinking? You know what I was thinking? I love these kids and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They needed a home and I had more than enough to give them. They immediately became apart of my family," she said.
"My family does not see color, just kids that needed someone. Yes, I have had my fair share of stares while we're out in public, but we just keep walking by unbothered. I've had people ask me, 'Oh, are you babysitting?' and my response is no, they are my children. No questions asked. I never say 'foster children,' but my children. Because that's what they are and always will be," Engleman added. She went on to adopt the three children and on November 1, 2019, they became a family of four.
"What I want to say to all the people who gave me negative comments after seeing that I, a black woman, adopted three white children: I am doing something that most couldn’t do. These children are in a great home with a loving mother. Love has no color in my home and they are loved unconditionally," the mother-of-three said.