Adoption is not an undertaking for the faint of heart, particularly when the child you’re taking in is the very reason you want to quit your career. But that’s exactly what 24-year-old Chelsea Haley did for a 12-year-old “trouble student” named Jerome Robinson.
“At certain points, his behavior got so bad I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be a teacher,'” confessed Haley.
As the chairwoman of the College Republicans at the University of Georgia, the educator had joined an organization called Teach for America, which placed her in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana elementary school.
It was there that she would meet the “problem student” who would later become her son.
All the teachers struggled with controlling Jerome’s behavior, but Haley was somehow able to crack through the boy’s tough exterior and earn his trust. While it also earned her the respect of her colleagues, it certainly did NOT make her job any easier.
“I got a lot of thankful emails and knocks on my door,” said Haley.
The 12-year-old and his baby brother Jace lived with their birth mom at the time, but the impoverished family was having a lot of trouble making ends meet.
“It was really hard on [his mom] after she lost her husband,” said Haley, adding that Jerome also lost a little sister. “It was just a combination of tragedy coupled with the other social situations you face when you live in poverty.”
The boys spent a lot of time moving from one place to the next, including their grandparents’ house, but they were never able to find a stable place to call home.
It was around this time that God began working on Haley’s heart, preparing her for the role of motherhood.
In 2015, she was wrapping up her two-year Teach for America contract, but she had a gut-feeling her time in Baton Rouge was not up.
Sure enough, the principal ended up asking Haley to stay “for Jerome,” so she agreed to come on staff for another year as a special education teacher.