Treka Engleman is a single foster mother from Cincinnati, Ohio, who had a rough childhood.
Treka lost her mother at six and suffered a lot after that. Although she has ten elder siblings, she was always on her own.
Sharing her story with Love What Matters, Engleman said,
“I’ve never had anyone to show me how to be a mom, but I guess it just came naturally to me. I have 20 nieces and nephews, three great nieces, and a host of cousins who I have babysat over the years.”
“I’ve worked in childcare ever since I graduated from High School. I’ve always babysat for different families; I guess I thought I was a natural when it came to taking care of children. Little did I know three children would change my life.”
Treka said she always wanted to be a foster mom but was reluctant to do so since she was not married and didn’t have children of her own.
“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 have to be at least the age of 21, and you can be single or married! I talked to my family about it, and I just decided I was going to go for it! At the time, I was rooming with my sister when I decided to get a two-bedroom apartment of my own and start the process.”
In August 2016, Treka started attending classes at St. Joseph Orphanage about adoption and parenting. She learned much about kids who were abandoned by their parents or became orphans.
According to Treka, she was so moved by listening to all the heartbreaking stories that she wanted to adopt every orphan child in the world.
“It was a complete emotional roller coaster. Hearing the stories about some children that go through foster care just brought tears to my eyes and broke my heart. 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.”
She further said, “I was getting close to the end, and I had to make a decision of what sex, race, and age range I 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.”
The thirty-year-old said that after a few days of her last class, she received a call from St. Joseph that a five-day-old needed to be adopted.
“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 could 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. As it turns out, he was my first placement, not to be my last!”
The following year on May 10, 2017, Engleman received another call asking if she was up to adopting two little girls.
“Of course, I said yes.” She told LWM. “They said, ‘Okay, we’ll be there later tonight.’ I heard the knock on the door, and this beautiful, petite little girl stood there. 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.”
Eventually, in March 2018, Mercedes came to live with Treka and the rest of the kids. Now, Engleman had three children ranging from one to fifteen years of age.
“You know what I was thinking?” Said Treka. “I love these kids and wouldn’t have it any other way. They needed a home, and I had more than enough to give them. They immediately became a part of my family. 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.” She continued. “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.”
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