RENSSELAER, Ind. – A teenager is happy to have a permanent home, and it happened just in time for the holidays.
Scarlet McKinney, 17, barely remembers leaving her biological parents. All she remembers is waiting more than 4,000 days in state custody, hoping for a family she could call her own.
“I think it was 35 or 36 homes she was moved to,” Michael Owens, her adoptive father, said.
All of that changed, though, when the Owens family decided they wanted to adopt.
“I’ve always wanted to adopt. Since I was in my early 20s, it was just something I wanted to do,” Patty Owens said. “One day he was just like, ‘I’ve been wanting to do this.’”
The Owens set out to adopt a younger child. When they went to the meet-and-greet events, though, they met Scarlet.
“We were sitting at the far end of the table. She eventually walked in, came in and sat down next to us,” Michael recalled. “She didn’t say a whole lot right away but by the time we were done at the end of the day we knew there was something.”
“At the end of the day, my husband and I were talking on the way home and I asked, ‘What did you think of her?’” Patty said. “I was like out of all the kids she drew my attention the most.”
They watched a video that the IndyStar posted about Scarlet and that’s when they say, they fell in love. Michael and Patty met with Scarlet a second time and decided she was going to be the daughter they never had. They applied to adopt her and five days later, were approved.
“We got a text, ‘it’s a girl!” Patty laughed. “We were so excited.”
“My wish came true,” Scarlet said. “It was a miracle for me.”
In November 2018, Scarlet and the Owens made the adoption official in court.
“I cried happy tears,” the teen remembered. “They took a lot of pictures, and then I got to hit the gavel.”
Scarlet spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s with her new family not worrying about where she would be headed next.
“It means everything that I can give her a great Christmas, a family for Thanksgiving, that she didn’t have before,” Patty said. “It’s kind of like she picked us.”
Records indicate that even though a record amount of families adopted in 2018, there are still 150-175 teens waiting for a forever home in Indiana.