Nearly 18, Teen Finds Forever Family

Weeks before he ages out of the foster care system, Mario chooses adoption.

Denalee Chapman October 11, 2016


Just a couple of weeks before turning 18 and aging out of the foster care system in Tampa, Florida, Mario met the Cooke family. The Cookes, however, were first introduced to Mario when he was 14 because of this video.

Maria and Mike Cooke have always been interested in adoption. They have had their hearts set on adopting a teen. They began training to become certified to adopt a child through foster care and during that training a relative placed a little girl, Kylie, for adoption. Maria and Mike adopted Kylie but couldn’t get Mario off their minds.

Although Mario had been introduced to two other families interested in adopting him, he never felt a connection with them. But when he met the Cookes, just two weeks before his 18th birthday, he felt the pull. He chose adoption over a life on his own.

In the courtroom, Mario had to be reminded to wrap his arms around his parents as they posed for a photo. And just as he did, he new mother whispered something to him that made him smile his perfectly white smile and show his dimples. Clearly, a lovely family has been created!

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Denalee Chapman

Denalee is an adoptive mother, a motivational speaker, a writer, and a lover of life. She and her husband have adventured through the hills and valleys of life to find that the highest highs and the lowest lows are equally fulfilling. Book Denalee to speak to your group, or find Denalee's writings, including her books on her website at

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