Boy's Bad Behavior Almost Drove His Teacher to Quit -- Then She Adopted Him


Chelsea Haley/Faceboook

While many adoption stories start off as heartbreak and end in something beautiful, others begin in ways that are a little more unconventional. The story of this frustrated teacher, on the brink of quitting her job, and the troubled student she felt compelled to adopt more than proves that families can come together in all sorts of ways.

  • Chelsea Haley was teaching at an elementary school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when she encountered her first problem student, Jerome.

    Haley, a member of Teach for America, says that at one point, the fourth grader even made her consider ending her teaching career. "At certain points, his behavior got so bad," she told CNN. "I thought, 'I can't do this anymore. I can't be a teacher.'"

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  • Haley recognized that Jerome wasn't acting out of malice, but out of pain, and began working to gain his trust.

    Jerome was in the custody of his birth mother, who was struggling at the time with the sudden deaths of her husband and daughter. "It was just a combination of tragedy coupled with the other social situations you face when you live in poverty," Haley said. "They spent a lot of time living with their grandparents."

    Over time, Haley developed a close bond with Jerome, so much so that Haley's care and influence started making the boy a better student. "I got a lot of thankful emails and knocks on my door," she said.

  • In 2015, shortly before finishing her two-year contract with Teach for America, Haley found that she didn't want to leave.

    When the principal of the elementary school where she worked suggested that Haley stay on as a teacher there for 12-year-old Jerome's sake, she jumped at the chance. 

    Haley told CNN that shortly after extending her contract, God came to her in a dream, telling her that she was meant to be Jerome's mother. 

    While she laughed it off at first, her feelings changed when, the next day at school, Jerome asked her a very serious question. "He just asked me if he could live with me," Haley recalled. "I told him I had been feeling the same thing."

  • That same night, Haley went to dinner with Jerome, his little brother Jace, and their birth mother.

     After the teacher informed the boys' birth mother that she planned on moving back to Georgia once her teaching contract was up, the woman made a bold demand of her. "You can go back," Haley recalled her saying. "But I want you to take Jerome and Jace with you."

    Haley was a little shocked at first, "I never thought I'd be a single mom at age 24, especially of two boys, one of which was my 12-year-old student. And the other one who was only a year-and-a-half." But she rose to the challenge. 

  • Haley filed for permanent custody of Jerome in December 2015, then Jace a little while later.

    "You have to be 12 years older than somebody to obtain custody of them, and I am 12 years and three months older than him," she said. 

    The teacher says that it hasn't always been easy. In becoming a mother, her entire life shifted. After moving them to Marietta, Georgia, and starting a job as a middle school teacher, she had to pull money from her retirement fund to put a down payment on a house for her and the boys.

    Still, Haley says that all of their lives have improved tremendously. Two years later and the boys are adjusting well to their new life and Jerome is doing really well in school. "He used to fail all of his classes and just didn't care. Now he has made honor roll both quarters of his eighth-grade year so far," she said. 

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    Ultimately, Haley says that her decision to adopt Jerome and Jace was one of the best she'd ever made. "I always knew I wanted to be a mom and I wouldn't trade this for anything."

    In efforts to get Jace into preschool and fund both of her boys' college educations, Haley has created a GoFundMe Campaign. The mother is asking for $50,000, and even after only a few hours up, donations are pouring in. 

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