‘Foster kid’ flourishing in adulthood
Despite a childhood of being jostled between her parents and foster homes, a young woman from Alexandria is flourishing into adulthood.
Haley Kuehl, 20, was recently named one of FosterClub’s Outstanding Young Leaders of 2013.
“I’m so proud because I worked hard to better myself in life and it felt good to be acknowledged for the hard work I’ve done,” she said.
FosterClub is a national network of more than 35,000 young people in foster care that works to affect positive change in the foster care system.
Each year FosterClub recognizes 100 young leaders who give back to their communities and improve the foster care system.
Kuehl was the only Minnesotan selected for the 2013 award.
In recent years, Kuehl took the initiative to help build a better foster care system through things like taking part in a trip to the state Capitol to talk to senators about homeless youth, hosting bake sales to raise money to buy luggage for incoming foster kids, helping create a pamphlet for foster kids to know their rights and more.
Kuehl said, “I feel like when kids go into foster care, they’re just so vulnerable and it’s so confusing ... I was 12 years old, my little sister was 10; we were kids and we didn’t understand.
“Helping with the foster care system is important to me because I’d like to see more people come out of the foster care system and succeed. They need to know that just because you had a crappy past it doesn’t have to define you.”
Kuehl entered the foster care system when she was 11 years old.
“My parents couldn’t take care of me,” she said.
She was put in a foster home for a week and later reunited with her parents.
“I lived with them for a little while … my parents split and we were homeless for a while,” Kuehl recalled. “We lived in a motel. My mom had a boyfriend who was violent with me.”
She was placed in foster care again and this time, at age 12, she was connected with foster care providers Randy and Marsha Sayre of Alexandria.
“It was a hard adjustment at first, coming from an abnormal living situation,” Kuehl said.
She lived with the Sayres for a year, was then reunited with her dad for a while, moved to another foster home for about three months and eventually, with persistence from the Sayres, Kuehl moved back to their home.
“They are amazing people,” Kuehl said. “They are my parents. That’s how they feel to me. They love me unconditionally, they treat me like one of their own kids; the whole family has treated me like one of their own.”
The Sayres’ house is still home for Kuehl.
“That’s my home. That’s still where I go home on the weekends from college,” she said.
Kuehl is currently a second-year student at St. Cloud State University where she’s working toward a nursing degree.
She plans to become a pediatric or obstetrics nurse.
When asked what she’s most proud of, she said, “I’m making something of myself, I’m going to school, working hard to pull good grades, I’m proud of the loving relationships I have.”