Chelsea Haley was 24, single, and in way over her head as a young teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Haley had joined Teach for America, hoping to make a difference at a low-income school, but an out-of-control fourth-grade boy almost made her quit.
12-year-old Jerome Robinson was uncooperative, to say the least. He was failing every subject, was often suspended, and was a constant thorn in Haley’s side.
“At certain points, his behavior got so bad, I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore,'” Haley recalled. “I can’t be a teacher.”
But Haley plodded on, day after day, insisting that Jerome do his schoolwork. She learned about Jerome’s home life, which had been fraught with trauma and tragedy.
“It was really hard on her after she lost her husband,” Haley said of Jerome’s birth mom, whose young daughter also passed away. “It was just a combination of tragedy coupled with the other social situations you face when you live in poverty.”
Haley’s 2-year time commitment with Teach for America was coming to an end, yet she felt compelled to stick around for another year. It was the fall of 2015 when Haley had a dream that changed the trajectory of her life forever.
In the dream, Haley heard God’s voice telling her she was meant to be Jerome’s mother. She laughed at the ridiculous notion, yet something profound happened at work the next day as she sat watching Jerome quietly take a test.
Haley described a calm, peaceful feeling come over her body that she knew could only come from God. Jerome looked up from his test and asked his teacher a question.
“He just asked me if he could live with me,” Haley recalled. “I told him I had been feeling the same thing.”
Haley’s path was further confirmed when Jerome’s birth mother also brought up adoption. The boy’s birth mom ached for a better life for Jerome and her year-and-a-half-old son, Jace.
“You can go back,” the boys’ mother told Haley, who explained she intended to move back to her Georgia home. “But I want you to take Jerome and Jace with you.”
Haley put all her trust in God, adopted Jerome and Jace, and took a teaching job in Georgia. She can hardly believe her life’s unexpected twist, but wouldn’t change a thing.
Jerome is thriving in school, on the honor roll for the first time in his life. Making ends meet hasn’t been easy for a single mother of two living off a teacher’s salary, but God has always provided.
“I always knew I wanted to be a mom and I wouldn’t trade this for anything,” Haley said.
Moved by Haley’s story, people from around the globe have offered financial support to the family of three, money that will help Jace stay in preschool and provide college tuition for both boys in the future.
We hope that this new family will thrive in the years to come, and that support will rally around them.
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