Melissa and David's Story

Melissa and David's Story

One Week with Blake: Melissa and David Haehl's Story

David and Melissa Haehl have long had a heart for children in foster care. Melissa is the vice president and a founding member of KC Kansas Angels, a non-profit that supports children in foster care and their caretakers. Ready to begin fostering themselves, they received a call that changed their lives forever when they agreed to provide short-term foster care for a teen boy.

Blake* was evicted from his home by his mother. He'd endured years of neglect and volatility during his childhood, alternating between living homeless in Oklahoma with his father and with his mother, who suffered from addiction. His occasional safety came from short times living of his grandmother, who is now terminally ill and no longer able to care for him. 

After his mother kicked him out, Blake found himself in the hands of authorities. He spent the first night in a juvenile detention facility, the only shelter available at the time. Hours were spent making calls to locate a safe, temporary home for Blake while assessing a more permanent home.

While Melissa and David were ready to be foster parents, they preferred younger children who could share a room in their available space. When they received the call asking them to take a 17-year-old for one night, they agreed, but with some trepidation. 

Blake arrived traumatized, with no clothes or personal items. Melissa and David spent that first night listening to his heartbreaking story and just being there for him. What was supposed to be one night, turned into a week. It was a week that will forever touch the hearts of Melissa, David and their children. "I spent years praying for a curly, red-headed child and in walks this curly, red-headed teen boy", Melissa said. 

Over the next week, Blake and the Haehl family bonded. He played joyfully with Melissa and David's three younger children, who adored him. Melissa and David spent many hours talking with Blake about his future. They felt lucky because Blake developed trust quickly, which isn't easy for a child with trauma. 

Melissa describes him as "funny, caring, and insightful." She and Blake would talk over coffee in the morning and make plans for his future. Upon learning Blake wanted to join the Army, they took him to meet with a recruiter.

Another day, they went to court with him, where a decision was made that reunifying him with his mother was not a possibility.

"We had some rough nights where Blake admitted he was thinking about running away and taking a bus to Oklahoma to find his dad. We had some real talks with him about what that would look like to do," says Melissa.

After consulting with our team, the plan was for Blake to join our Pathways transitional living program. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 precautions, the process would take longer than usual. In compliance with these precautions, Blake had to be tested for COVID-19, which returned negative. Our team was able to expedite his paperwork, and Blake moved to a Pathway's apartment eight days after arriving at the Haehl house. 

Blake was both excited and extremely nervous about the move and kept finding reasons to stall departure. Running an hour late, he left the Haehl home with a new wardrobe and apartment items all donated from KC Angels and the Haehl's church. 

Blake's plans for his future are to complete high school and join the Army. With the security of a place to lay his head at night, 24/7 support from Pathways staff and knowing he won't go hungry, Blake's future looks brighter than it has in a long time and the Haehl family are excited to be part of it.

"We hope to be in Blake's life forever and look forward to his visits," Melissa said. She continued, "If you're skeptical about taking in a teen, rethink it. It's been the best experience of my and my husband's life."

Learn more about becoming a foster parent here.