Kolby's earliest memories are in foster care.
Kolby’s two older sisters were already in the foster care system when he was born. By the age of 2, it was clear there were two options – grow up in foster care or be adopted.
For Kolby, growing up in foster care seemed likely. He and his sisters were set on a path where they cycle through foster homes. As the number of moves increased, so did confusion around who their family was and where they would be sleeping.
Kolby had an especially hard time. His confusion turned into frustrations. Kolby began to throw tantrums that foster parents said were too much to handle. Without a family of his own invested in his future, it was easy for foster homes to request Kolby be moved.
Eventually, Kolby’s older sisters were adopted by their grandma. Kolby was seen as too challenging. His grandma requested he be raised by another family.
By the age of 5, Kolby was unwanted. On paper, he was viewed as too scary for any family to take him.
When our Boys & Girls Aid recruiter first met Kolby, he was 5-years-old and living in a residential treatment facility – a place for children who have run out of foster homes willing to take them. We saw Kolby as a child who had been put through so much and was being misunderstood. We didn’t see an aggressive child who would be unwanted by a family.
Our recruiter started advocating for Kolby. She saw the behaviors as a result of his environment. In the right family, she believed Kolby could shine.
Karen Turlak was that family. Karen, a recent empty nester, decided she needed to be a parent again when she heard Kolby’s story. Karen said she saw Kolby needed a family. She said he was more than just scary words on paper and other people’s negative opinions.
“Here was a little boy who was just a bunch of words in files - other people’s opinions,” she said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be the easiest and he was going to push all the limits and he may not like me somedays. But I knew he needed a parent like me. I have loved him since the first smile.”
After our recruiter successfully had Kolby released from the facility, we expedited the adoption process so Kolby would go home with Karen. On March 28, 2016, Kolby went home to Karen. It would be his eighth and final home.
Since becoming a Turlak, Kolby has thrived. Karen said he is a completely different person. He is happier and more playful. With the help of Karen, he has caught up in school and is now excelling. He even got first-place in a recent spelling bee at school.
“I can easily say not only has he enriched my life, but so many lives he has touched,” she said. “He just needed a chance to shine. He needed someone to believe in him.”