Katrina Mullen, a neonatal nurse and single mother of five in Indiana, US, remembers being struck by her 14-year-old patient, who always sat with her premature triplets alone. She wondered why Shariya Small, then an 8th grader, never came with a packed lunch or snacks to eat. Triplets Serenitee, Samari, and Sarayah were born at 26 weeks, spending over five months in the neonatal intensive care unit in 2020. Mullen, having been a teen mom, ended up giving her phone number to Small, telling her to reach out to her if she needed to talk or had questions. Small was living on a couch at a relative's house when the US Department of Social Services (DSS) declared Small and her babies needed to be taken into foster care. Mullen, already a mom to three kids at home and two grown 20-something year-olds, didn't hesitate. "I knew it would be impossible to find a foster home that would take all four of them. No one was going to take a teen mom and her preemie triplets. I just kept thinking, I have to do this. I knew Shariya was intelligent and resilient and she just needed a safe place to put her roots. I knew it would be hard, but we'd figure it out," she said. Small, now 17, has graduated from an alternative high school with an A- average, and is exploring nearby colleges with plans to pursue a career in social work. After fostering Small and the triplets for 668 days, Mullen officially became Small's mom on February 6, 2023. "I'm so proud to be Shariya's mom," Mullen told Today, "She just amazes me every day. When she's frustrated with the babies, she never raises her voice. She's just blossoming into this incredible woman."
Watch video below.