Shay Roberson had a difficult life in her early years. One of six children born to a crack cocaine addict, she and her siblings were constantly being taken from their mother and moved around through relatives and foster care.
At some point, a relative decided to make it official and adopt the other five kids — but not Roberson. Roberson would always have a biological mother, but she’d never really received the nurturing, mentoring and caring figure every person needs in their lives.
Until she met Ginnie Wing. Roberson was in sixth grade when she met Wing, who was a school resource officer at East Middle School in Brownsburg, Indiana, that Roberson attended.
Because she was in and out of foster care (she passed through a dozen homes within a decade), her teachers became her support system. They did all the things a good parent would do, supporting her and attending events.
But Wing was more than that. She’d check in on Roberson to see how she was doing. She was approachable and warm, and Roberson soon sought her company daily.
“I just always thought she was pretty cool,” she told the Indy Star. “I don’t know, she was just a dope person.”
“My only interactions with police officers were always bad, so whether they were coming to my house or, you know, in my neighborhood or removing me from my parents.”
The sentiment was mutual, as Wing took a shine to Roberson. There was something about that girl that just called to her. When Roberson started at Indiana University, it was Wing (and a counselor) who celebrated with Shay and went to the parents’ meeting at her request.
Even through college Wing kept in touch with Roberson, sending her starter supplies and making sure she wasn’t wanting for anything major. Wing’s husband Matt, a Brownsburg Police Department sergeant, saw what his wife saw in Roberson, too.
“It’s clear that she’s an amazing person that just has a light about her that lights up a room when she walks in,” he said. “She’s hard not to love, really.”
Roberson graduated with a degree in applied health sciences and started working in Washington D.C. Wing became Brownsburg Community School Corporation’s police chief.
But their friendship wasn’t over yet. During a conversation, Wing commented off-handedly that they should have just adopted Roberson. Roberson wondered if that were still possible, and knew of another adult who’d been adopted when she was over 30.
Matt Wing also primed the pumps by hearing from a friend in his 60s who wished he’d been able to have parents, and still felt a severe absence in his life.
So Roberson decided to take a leap and ask Ginnie Wing something a little bit crazy. She texted the two sentences to her former resource officer: “Can you think about adopting me one day? I really want a mom.”
She quickly added, “You don’t have to respond just think about it.” But she didn’t need to worry — the reason Wing didn’t respond immediately was only that she was driving.
“Sorry, I was driving,” Wing texted back. “You know I would in a heartbeat.”
On April 20, 2018, Roberson became part of the family to the delight of the Wings and their children, who also said this was a long time coming. Now Roberson’s last name is Roberson-Wing and they’re legally family.
“If something would happen to me or my husband, that she’s ours and we’re hers,” Ginnie Wing said. “And we wanted that to become official.”
“Where she came from and where she’s at now is amazing. And I think she didn’t let her circumstances define her,” Matt Wing added. “She defined herself. And kind of beat the odds.”
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