In the spring of 2011, we met a young man who had overcome many obstacles in his life. From a very young age, Nathan Delafield knew his life was different from other kids his age. He had almost no relationship with his father, and his mother moved from home to home to homeless shelter during his most influential years. And then, when Nathan was only eight years old, she left.
After being placed in foster care, Nathan was given the opportunity to move in with his Aunt Kate and Uncle Randy.
“It was a roller coaster,” said Kate. “We had only been in our house for a few months but Randy and I totally jumped into Nate’s life. He’s always been a great kid, and I knew everything would work out.”
Kate and Randy became licensed through through Arizona's Children Association specifically for Nathan and maintained their license until he turned 18.
“My first night in the house, when I went into the cupboards to start to make myself dinner, my aunt told me that adults do the cooking here but asked if I wanted to help her,” recalls Nathan. “I knew from that moment on that life was going to be very different from the life I knew up till then.”
Nathan grew up to be a successful young man. After graduating high school, Nathan graduated from Arizona State University with an award for most outstanding senior graduate for the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the “Spunky” Award (achieving a college education through adversity with Spunk) through the College of Liberal Arts and Science.
But, where is he now? After graduating from ASU, Nathan decided to further his education at the Indiana University School of Medicine. About a month ago, as he began his second year in medical school, Nathan received confirmation that he was awarded an all-inclusive scholarship through the National Health Service Corps to continue to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor without the outstanding indebtedness that many young physicians face. In return, Nathan has committed to enter into a primary-care medical field and he is particularly interested in working in the field of pediatrics. In Nathan’s opinion, working with children, particularly those in the underserved population will bring his “story” and life experiences full-circle.
Kate and Randy are thrilled with Nathan’s success and are proud of the man he has become. “My son is an exceptional inspiration and such an amazing man,” explained Kate.
“I can’t stress enough how my foster family changed my life,” Nathan says. “Up until I arrived at my Aunt and Uncle's home, I never even had my own bed to sleep in, and my shoes were hand-me-downs from my older brother. I was just a kid trying to survive and get by with the basics. This amazing opportunity changed my life, gave me a chance to thrive, and parents to guide me as I achieved my personal goals.”
“If there’s one thing I can remind potential foster families and foster kids, it’s to be patient with each other,” said Nathan. “Most of the kids in the foster program have seen or experienced things in their young lives that most adults will never encounter.”
For Kate and Randy, the past years were a learning process about raising a child and the foster care system. "Nate has touched our hearts in so many ways. He is an inspiration to the masses and we have been truly blessed to have him in our life,” said Kate. “I would encourage all families to educate themselves about the system. The more knowledge you have, the more power you have.”
We’re happy to say that Kate has been employed with Arizona’s Children Association for three years. She is currently working in our Prescott office in the ICPC program as a Sr. Resource Family Specialist and PSMAPP trainer working with kinship families and licensing. “I have always wanted to work for this agency,” said Kate. “They’ve given us so much help and support throughout the years. I have an amazing opportunity to work with families who face similar situations and use my experience to help guide them through this process.”
To learn more about the foster care and adoption programs at Arizona’s Children Association visit www.arizonaschildren.org.
*Photo (Left to right): Kate, Nathan and Randy Delafield