A teacher named Chelsea Haley is making headlines around the world after sharing her heartwarming adoption story. Four years ago, the now 26-year-old teacher was heading up a fourth grade classroom in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with the Teach for America program, which recruits recent college graduates to work in low-income schools, That's when she met 12-year-old Jerome, who along with his little brother Jace, was living in poverty with his grandparent and birth mother. The family had fallen on even harder times in the wake of two deaths in the family.
Haley noticed that Jerome frequently got suspended from school and struggled to progress academically. “After exhausting all of my resources in the classroom, I realized the only way to reach Jerome was to get to know him and just build a relationship,” she told Good Morning America. “I started spending a lot of time with him outside of school, going to his football games, his basketball games, just hanging out with him at home, buying school supplies and groceries, all those kinds of things.”
That's when she realized that he was a "really witty, very smart and just kind” kid. She admited that although there were "still days in the classroom when he made me want to pull my hair out, I knew that below that tough-boy exterior, there was just a little boy begging to be love."
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Ultimately, in October 2015, Jerome asked Haley if he could live with her. She says it was around that same time that she had a dream in which God told her she was destined to be Jerome’s mother. It took just two months for the young woman to become a single mom to both Jerome and his younger brother Jace, who is now 3 years old. Haley also had their birth mother's blessing.
Now the family lives in Marietta, Georgia, and Jerome is an honor roll student.
“I don’t think there are many words to really describe just how awesome it is to celebrate all of Jerome’s achievements,” Haley said. “I think it just goes to show that he’s always had the potential, all he needed was the support and the self-confidence to be successful. ... I’m just really, really proud of him."
Meanwhile, Haley is working extremely hard "to make ends meet." She has two part-time jobs and a full-time job. But if there's anything that this mom believes in, it's something she says she learned from Jerome, which is “never give up.”
According to GMA, Jerome stands by his advice: “To never give up and to keep trying no matter what people say. You always have to believe that you can do anything.” Cheers to that.