For many people, Christmas is a joyous time to celebrate the birth of Christ and to reconnect with family and friends. However, sometimes children whose stories begin in crisis situations are left hoping to build new traditions with loving adults who will claim them as their own.
According to The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) 2015 Report, nearly 428,000 children in the United States live in foster care.
Miguel Coppedge is a 12-year-old sixth grader who defies those statistics. The honor roll student, author and philanthropist is already building a bright future with the help of his adoptive mother, Yolanda Coppedge.
Before entrepreneur Yolanda Coppedge who works with children in the fitness industry through her company called “No Obesity Family Fitness, LLC” took Miguel into her home, he was being cared for at the St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home, now called St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families.
Miguel now gives back to St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families (St. Ann’s), a faith-based organization in Hyattsville, Maryland, which operates transitional housing programs for pregnant and adolescent mothers, a high school and a day care facility.
On December 22, 2017, Miguel delivered coats that he collected for the place that was his homes since he was approximately a five-day old infant.
“I sometimes give them (St. Ann’s) checks or money, or I just give back to them,” Miguel said. “It is important to me because they really took care of me there. I just wanted to give back for everything they’ve done for me.”
Yolanda Coppedge was introduced to Miguel when a friend asked her to take care of the two-month old as a foster mother. Her friend was already taking care of Miguel’s older brother and she didn’t have any more room in her home.
Yolanda embraced the idea of caring for Miguel temporarily and became certified to legally be able to do it. Ironically, she found out that could not have her own biological children due to reproductive issues a few months before Miguel was born. A pre-school teacher at that time, Yolanda ultimately moved forward with a petition to adopt Miguel when he was six months old. Yolanda and Miguel have officially been a mother and son team ever since.
“I feel great because she (my mother) really takes care of me, and she really, really, really loves me,” Miguel said cheerfully.
Yolanda describes her son as a loving, caring child with a magnetic personality. She added that he does have issues—such as ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and a mood disorder but none of that has stopped Miguel from earning recognition as a young philanthropist and the author of three books. Miguel began a self-published book journey when he was just nine years old. His favorite hobbies are playing video games, basketball and writing.
“I want to keep on writing when ideas come to me,” Miguel said, mentioning that it feels great to have books of his own.
In addition to “The Adventures of Fire Man” and “The Adventures of Fireman and the Case of the Stinger,” Miguel penned his third book, “Friendly Officers.” He heard children talking about being afraid of police officers, and he didn’t want them to be fearful.
Miguel crafted a plan to help St. Ann’s through selling his books. Yolanda added that St. Ann’s was ecstatic about Miguel’s idea to give back to the organization. They were happy and proud of how far he has come.
“When he wrote his first book, the first things he said is he wanted to give a portion of [the] proceeds to St. Ann’s. I never said anything about giving back. That is something that just came right out of his mouth,” Yolanda said. “I guess he kind of got that from me (giving back to causes and organizations), because I’m always giving to people.”
Yolanda and Miguel can be spotted sporting ugly sweaters, while enjoying Christmas fun with family and celebrating the time that they now have to treasure each holiday season together. Yolanda says she always saw something different in Miguel and she is glad that he ended up in her care. The nurturing mother would encourage other like-minded individuals to adopt children.
“If I had more room, I would adopt more kids,” Yolanda said with joyous laughter. There are a lot of kids out there who need a loving home, and a lot of them are good kids. They might come from rough backgrounds but a lot of them just really need love.”
To learn more about Miguel’s books, visit https://www.facebook.com/theadventuresoffireman.