(WXMI) — On a dreary day in West Michigan, Monette Rodriguez knows anything but gloom.
“I feel wanted,” said Rodriguez. “I feel like somebody claimed me. I’m not a foster child anymore, I’m now an adopted child. I’m just her daughter.”
As she answers a FaceTime call, Rodriguez’s smile shines when she greets, for the first time formally, her mom.
“She’s very dedicated to anything she does and anything that she feels is important, like me,” said Rodriguez. “She helps me out continuously.”
At a young age, Rodriguez became one of an estimated 670,000 kids apart of the United States foster care system. She bounced throughout Southern California.
“I don’t know how many, I don’t want to try to give an amount, but many, many, many, many fosters homes,” said Rodriguez.
By age 11, Rodriguez went to live with Rosalee McEntyre.
“She had beautiful long hair and she was very, very social,” said McEntyre, while video chatting from her home in Lancaster, California.
However, too traumatized from past houses, Rodriguez ran away from McEntyre’s home at 14 years old. Trouble followed her into her young adult life, which strained the relationship.
“By the time I had got to her, I was pretty well figuring that nobody was going to ever stick with me or love me,” said Rodriguez. “That I was just going to keep getting passed around like a potato.”
Rodriguez eventually though made her way to Montcalm County and reclaimed herself. She got married, raised two daughters, and earned a few degrees around age 40.
It’s during that time that Rodriguez and McEntyre reconnected.
“I think once she seen that I was being more productive and stuff that that gave us the chance,” said Rodriguez.
Nearly 20 years later, they talk and visit each other whenever possible.
“She always so thoughtful,” said McEntyre, when describing her daughter. “She sends me cards all the time. They’re just beautiful cards she has looked up and found.”
With the relationship strong, over the summer, 85-year-old McEntyre asked 58-year-old Rodriguez if she wanted to officially be adopted.
This week, the two signed off on the adoptive papers. Rodriguez is now awaiting the family certificate so she can get a new birth certificate with McEntyre’s name on it.
“With her being 85 and me going through cancer, it was just a nice time for it to happen for both of us,” said Rodriguez.
It’s a moment not too soon that shows even the darkest days can be bright.
“It’s lovely to feel like you belong and you’ve got a family,” said McEntyre.
November is National Adoption Month. The family is asking people consider purchasing “Xander Friends” from Lavender Life Company.
The Caledonia-based business makes stuffed animals for kids in the foster care system. They have helped nearly 60,000 in a few years.
To learn more, click here.