As a child in the foster system, Ashley Lacasse had already attended 19 different schools by the time she was 17. But now she has a stable home and the opportunity to attend college, thanks to her two adoptive moms and the generosity of a perfect stranger.
"There's sort of this unspoken rule with older kids that are in the system," Ashley told her new moms, "and once you hit about 10 years old, nobody wants you anymore and you will never find a family."
That sense of hopelessness is why Ashley is adamant about sharing her good fortune of being adopted in January by Zoe and Amanda Jette Knox, who live in Ottawa, Canada. But she had no idea how much brighter her future would soon get.
This happy chain of events all started when Ashley befriended Amanda and Zoe's daughter, Alexis. Ashley was in a heartbreaking foster placement that left her crying every day, and Alexis advocated for her friend to join their family. When Alexis' older brother moved out to get his own place at the age of 21, Ashley moved in.
Ashley's adoptive mom, Amanda, is the bestselling author of Love Lives Here, and even she is surprised by the sweet and happy ending to this story. Not only does she have a new daughter she loves every bit as much as her biological children, but an anonymous stranger who heard about the adoption has offered to contribute towards Ashley's college education.
Amanda shared her excitement in a tweet thread that went viral:
"Yesterday, the BBC published a piece about my wife & I adopting our teen daughter. Today I got an email from someone who offered to help pay her college tuition because they've been where she is, and today they can. So they did. They really did. Holy cow, people are amazing.
I'm keeping this vague because the person (understandably) wishes to remain anonymous. But they had no idea who we were until they read the article, found a way to contact me and we've since spoken on the phone and I'm still processing their incredible kindness and generosity.
Ashley is on cloud nine. She just can't believe it. We haven't had much time to save for her tuition, so this help is seriously life-changing. It makes everything easier. This person changed everything, and I know we're all hoping to meet in person someday."
Ashley is on cloud nine. She just can't believe it. We haven't had much time to save for her tuition, so this help is seriously life-changing. It makes everything easier. This person changed everything, and I know we're all hoping to meet in person someday.❤️
— Amanda Jetté Knox (@MavenOfMayhem) January 28, 2020
Within days, Ashley applied to enter a baking program at a local college. Amanda describes her as a talented baker and reports that they are awaiting a response to her application. The good news of the anonymous donation touched the hearts of many people online, with countless tweets praising the generosity of the donor. Life has turned around in a big way for a young lady who had been through so much.
While Ashley was excited to be adopted after bouncing around the foster care system, Amanda is quick to point out that Ashley already has a mom and that nobody is being "replaced." Now she has three moms!
"I think it's really important to acknowledge that Ashley has a good relationship with her biological family and that her joining our family also means that her biological family is a part of our family. I really think sometimes we villainize or at the very least really misunderstand parents whose children are in care. They love her very, very much. Our job is not to replace them. Our job is to help them provide stability for her, so that she can keep having relationships with them, and keep growing as a person," Amanda explained.
Amanda offered her advice for parents considering fostering or adoption:
"The biggest thing to know is that just because a kid has been through trauma doesn't mean that they're not deserving of love. I think sometimes people shy away from this idea of fostering or adopting an older child because of the things that they could have gone through and what that could mean. And yes, certainly there can be attachment issues, and yes, certainly it can be more challenging in some areas. But when you create that trust and when that love really starts to grow, it is so worth it. It is the most amazing experience….So I would say go for it, and know that your own experiences, if you've had any struggles yourself, your own experiences can really help you parent better."
The gift of tuition was life-changing, like the shared gift of adoption and a new family member. Amanda summed it up beautifully in saying, "We have three biological children and I really do love Ashley just as much. She has taken a piece of our heart in a really good way and it's surprised me how much I can love this amazing kid."
Alison Tedford is an Indigenous freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC, Canada. She blogs on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops and operates Feel Better Marketing.