“I gave them permission to adopt me.”

Lakeshia Clark had nowhere to go after the foster care home where she lived closed, but the help of a determined social worker and loving family changed her life forever. 

On Easter weekend in April 2021, Barbara Grose faced a dilemma. The family were hours away from leaving for spring break when she received a phone call from Lisa Barber-Atwell, lead recruitment and certification specialist with St. Joe’s about Lakeshia Clark. The 17-year-old, who was born with cerebral palsy, was wheelchair-bound and staying in a hotel room with a nurse’s aid, because her prior foster home closed suddenly. She had nowhere else to go, and Lisa hoped she could temporarily stay with the Grose family. Barbara wanted to help but figuring out the logistics was tricky. 

They weren’t sure the lake house they’d be staying in for their vacation would be wheelchair accessible, and they didn’t think they could transport her. 

“I called Lisa back and told her we were not comfortable with saying yes and she said, ‘I understand. It looks like we might have found another home for her. They are taking her to that home right now so I think we are fine,’” she says. 

An hour later, Lisa called Barbara again asking about whether they would reconsider taking Lakeshia. “The place they were going to take her was owned by the parents of the place that closed and Lakeshia didn’t want to go.” “I talked to my husband and both of us agreed that we couldn’t leave this baby in a hotel room by herself with a nurse’s aid over the holiday.” The family planned on leaving shortly but Lakeshia was 2.5 hours away from them and Barbara didn’t want the kids to wait. “I didn’t know what to do.” Desperate for a solution, Lakeshia’s social worker drove her to the vacation home. 

When she arrived, Lakeshia clicked well with the family – despite the shock of learning she would be sharing a space with eight other kids. “I was overwhelmed at first, because I was only told they had an 18-year-old daughter,” she says with a chuckle. “We dyed Easter eggs together and she participated in an Easter egg hunt with us,” says Barbara. 

Lakeshia didn’t anticipate staying with the family long-term because she had been told they would meet with the social worker to determine another plan for placement after the vacation – and she playfully reminded them. 

“She spent all weekend in a hoodie with the hood pulled up over her head telling us, ‘I am only with you until Tuesday.’” But a weeklong vacation with the family turned into a permanent stay for Lakeshia who had already lived in seven homes before meeting them. “She said, ‘ain’t nobody got time for moving again. I just want to stay here.’” Lakeshia wasn’t ready for adoption at the time, but she knew she had found her home. “In December, her social worker was here and she [Lakeshia] said, ‘I am giving you permission to adopt me.’” The Grose family adopted her in May 2022 and since then, Lakeshia has been happy with her new family. “To this day, we still look at each other and say, ‘you’re just here until Tuesday,’” says Barbara. Lakeshia has bonded with her adopted siblings and says she wants to teach her 6-year-old sister Katrina, who also has cerebral palsy, about mastering independence. “I want to be a good role model for her,” she says. 

We asked Lakeshia what she wants others to know about adopting teenagers without and with special needs. 

The Grose family includes Katrina (6), Emma (14), Ethan (14), Justus (16), Lakeshia (18), Faith (19), Zachery (22), and two 4-year-old foster kids.

“I wish people would take a chance and understand that just because you are a teenager and just because you are in foster care, that doesn’t make you a bad person.” Barbara and Bobby took the chance when they started fostering medically complex kids and teens while raising four kids of their own. “I work with special needs children, and my husband has been in the medical field for 17 years.” The couple is parenting nine children which include their four kids, three adoptees and two foster children.

“All the kids just love and care for each other and that is what makes my heart happy. Our 22-year-old adores our 6-year-old and so anytime he is around, he will pick her up and dance with her. Our 4-year-old and 16-year-old are best buddies and Lakeshia has a great relationship with all of the kids…they love to jump on her wheelchair and go for a ride, because they think she’s the coolest. She is a wonderful kid.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Lakeshia!



P.S. This mother didn’t believe adoption was the right choice for her, but these words from a friend changed her mind

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St. Joseph Children’s Home
2823 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 893-0241
(877) 893-0241