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.
Then, one evening in October, the teacher got an earth-shattering revelation from God in her sleep. She says He came to her in a dream and told her it was her destiny to be Jerome’s mom.
Initially, Haley literally laughed aloud at the silly idea. But the next day at school, the dream about her student proved too powerful to shake.
As Jerome sat next to her taking a test, she felt an unexplainable peace overcome her.
“He just asked me if he could live with me,” said Haley. “I told him I had been feeling the same thing.”
And her confirmation didn’t end there. When she went to dinner with Jerome’s family the next day, the boys’ mom weighed in as well. When the teacher shared her intentions of returning to Georgia, she simply replied, “You can go back, but I want you to take Jerome and Jace with you.”
In that moment, Haley knew exactly what she was supposed to do. God couldn’t have aligned these events any more clearly if He spoke audibly from the sky.
In December of 2015, Haley filed for permanent custody of 12-year-old Jerome and 18-month-old Jace.
“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,” shared Haley, attesting to yet another mini-miracle God planted along the way.
Now settled in a Marietta Georgia school, Jerome’s behavior has drastically improved since his days as the notorious rebel student.
“He used to fail all of his classes and just didn’t care,” says Haley. “Now he has made honor roll both quarters of his eighth-grade year so far.”
The now 26-year-old single mom took money out of her retirement savings to buy a home for her new family of three, and she couldn’t be happier to provide for the special little boys she now calls her sons: