A Kentucky principal is celebrating the holidays with his family, which expanded nine years ago after one of his students got suspended and he learned she needed a home.
According to “Good Morning America,” Jason Smith met his daughter-to-be, Raven Whitaker-Smith, when she was a troubled sixth-grade student in 2015.
Smith said, “She was just this sweet looking, little innocent child sitting there, kind of defeated.”
“I asked her, ‘What’s going on?’ and she said that she had thrown a cup of yogurt at lunch and had been suspended and was waiting to be picked up,” he went on.
He noted that he asked if she would do that at a restaurant and her response stunned him. She said she had never been to one.
Raven had lived in multiple foster homes and was living in a group home at the time.
Smith went on, “At that point, I had felt like she just needed a hand, needed help.”
“I recognized that she needed something to go in her favor, maybe for once, that it hadn’t gone in her favor in the past, but she just needed somebody to help her,” he explained.
He went home and discussed the situation with his wife. The couple had struggled with infertility as they attempted to expand their family so they decided to adopt Raven.
Raven was adopted and adjusted over time after working through some challenges.
Now, she is attending the University of Kentucky to become a social worker. She plans to use her experiences to help others.
“It feels really cool to tell my other classmates that I was in the system, and then they go and they tell their friends and everyone else about my story,” she said.
She recently published an essay about her adoption as coursework during National Adoption Month in November.
In the paper she wrote, “I love telling people that I was adopted. Not many people get to say their parents chose them.”
“If anyone reading this is thinking about fostering or adopting a child, I urge you to take a chance and try it,” she added.
“Foster care saved my life and because of that, it has inspired me to be a social worker. There are so many kids out there that are just like me when I was eleven who need to be loved, cared for, and given hope,” she concluded